Research News Release

Aurora doctor receives research award at Cardiac Problems in Pregnancy conference

Dianne Zwicke, MD, develops way to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension during pregnancy

March 2, 2018

Aurora Health Care cardiovascular disease specialist Dianne Zwicke, MD, recently received the Clinical Researcher of the Year award at the Cardiac Problems in Pregnancy conference in Bologna, Italy. Additionally, the latest edition of the Cardiac Problems in Pregnancy textbook will, for the first time, include a chapter on pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in pregnant women, with Dr. Zwicke as the author.

PAH is a rare but serious condition that causes critically high pressure in the pulmonary arteries, which connect the heart to the lungs. Women with the condition are counseled to avoid pregnancy as it could be fatal.

Sixteen years ago, Dr. Zwicke developed a protocol for treating PAH in pregnant women, which, to date, has been successful in keeping alive 100 percent of the mothers and children her team has treated.

“The death rate of the mothers with PAH is 35 to 57 percent in the best of situations in the U.S. and abroad,” she said. “Except here at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, where it is zero. Since 2002, we have had 100 percent survival.”

Dr. Zwicke’s research into PAH goes beyond treating pregnant women. She opened six new clinical trials with Aurora Research Institute in 2017, bringing her current total number of enrolling trials with the institute to 12. The trials study various oral and inhaled drugs for a range of conditions associated with PAH.

“Dr. Zwicke feels every study has potential significance to benefit future patients,” said Linda Boehm, RN, research coordinator on seven of Dr. Zwicke’s open trials. “Every study, each unique pathway and any opportunity to provide help for the PAH population is worth exploring, since there is so little available to them.”


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Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin-area health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 30 counties throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is Wisconsin's most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics, more than 70 pharmacies and more than 33,000 caregivers. As evidenced by more than 300 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today and to defining the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account.

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Aurora Research Institute is a not-for-profit, limited liability company of Aurora Health Care. Aurora has emerged as a national destination for patient-centered bench, translational and clinical research, and Aurora Research Institute unifies the innovative research efforts throughout the health system. Aurora researchers focus on rapidly translating new discoveries from the scientist’s bench to the patient’s bedside and into the community we serve to improve options and outcomes that change not only the lives of individuals, but transform the health of populations.

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