February is American Heart Month, but it’s also Black History Month. So here’s a glimpse at where the two commemorations intersect.

Daniel Hale Williams

Have you ever heard of Daniel Hale Williams? If you’re not a cardiac surgeon, you may not have. But Dr. Williams was the first African American to perform pericardium surgery to repair a wound (from a stabbing). In fact, he was one of the first physicians in the world to do this, which is impressive enough. But the fact that he carried out this procedure in 1893 is even more amazing. (You read that correctly; it is not a typo.)


Today, efforts by the American Heart Association focus on educating the public and encouraging healthy heart habits. But when we think about heart care, we have to thank Dr. Williams and other pioneers who have advanced the way physicians and specialists help us care for the most important muscle in our body.

Learn More

If you’d like to read more about unsung African American medical heroes, we encourage you to check out this list of 25 Medical Pioneers to Celebrate This Black History Month from Becker’s Hospital Review. 

And to discover all the ways you can help take care of your heart, visit the American Heart Association website.