Sarah C. Hull, MD, MBE is a cardiologist at Yale Medicine. She specializes in general cardiology, echocardiography (imaging of the heart using ultrasound), and cardio-oncology, which is a field that encompasses both cancer patients with underlying heart disease and cancer patients who are undergoing therapies that put them at risk of cardiac complications.
Dr. Hull first became interested in cardiology in junior high school when she saw a schematic image of a heart in a textbook—and how it delivered oxygenated blood and nutrients through the body. “I just remember thinking that there was something unbelievably simple and elegant and beautiful about it,” she says.
She went on to complete an undergraduate degree in biochemical sciences at Harvard, her medical school education and internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and her cardiology fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. She joined the clinical faculty in 2014.
One of the things Dr. Hull enjoys the most about cardiology is the variety of challenges she faces every day: “There’s a mix of acute problems where you have to understand complex physiology and think quickly in order to stabilize patients,” she says. “Then there’s also a lot of chronic care that involves developing relationships with patients and figuring out how you can improve their lifestyle habits and medication regimens to improve their longevity and quality of life.”
Before meeting with each patient, Dr. Hull reviews their chart extensively beforehand to get a sense of their medical history and current condition. This includes studying their cardiac testing, lab work, and reason for referral. This all helps direct her questioning when meeting with patients. From there, Dr. Hull will ask patients about the details of their condition and see how that fits with the information she already has.
Once she arrives at a diagnosis or treatment plan, Dr. Hull explains it to the patients in simple terms, sometimes drawing diagrams or using what she calls “if/then statements.” These statements give patients an idea of what to expect if a certain treatment option provides a certain result and what further steps they will take. “I think knowledge is power. Patients want to understand their illnesses. They don’t just want to be told, ‘Get this test,’ or ‘Take this pill,’” she says.
Ultimately, Dr. Hull believes that helping patients improve or maintain their health is connected to empowering them to understand and commit to a treatment plan with which they feel comfortable. “One of the things I like to tell them is, ‘You’re the boss and I’m the expert. Ultimately, you’re the one in charge, because it’s your body.’”
Dr. Hull is fluent in French and English. She is also board certified in cardiology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale Medicine