A CONSULTANT cardiologist has urged women to be “fearless” in pursuing their dreams after being recognised for her pioneering heart research.

Prof Barbara Casadei said her specialism was becoming less male dominated after she was placed on the 10-person shortlist for the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) “Woman With Heart” award.

The winner will be announced tomorrow, on International Women’s Day.

The 54-year-old Wolvercote resident conducts research for the charity alongside her medical role at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

She researches atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that affects more than a million people in the UK and increases risk of heart failure and stroke.

She said: “More women are coming up through the ranks in cardiovascular research now.

“But it has traditionally been more of a man’s territory.

“I’m glad times are changing. I hope women will aim high and be fearless career-wise and look after their own heart health too.”

The mother-of-one hails from Italy and has stayed in the city since graduating in medicine in 1989. Her partner Prof Roy Collins is also a cardiologist.

Prof Casadei said: “I’m very proud to have had the privilege of the training I’ve received, particularly because cardiology is traditionally populated by males.

“I enjoy what I’m doing and I have a lot of very positive interaction with my patients and the people who work with me in the lab.

“I’m dedicated to finding ways for patients to get better and I’ve maintained that desire to do something that directly affects them.”

She said: “Seeing something happen in the lab for the first time is exciting and hugely motivating.

“But working directly with patients means one keeps the ultimate goal in mind – helping people get better by developing safer and more effective treatment.”

“It’s good for people to know how many people are committed in doing something important just because they think it’s right.”

BHF senior cardiac nurse Maureen Talbot said: “Women like Prof Casadei make an essential contribution to helping heart patients across the UK, whether they’re young or old, a man or a woman.”