Destined to Heal Hearts: Supreeti Behuria
It isn’t often that a 4-year-old’s career goals stick. Three decades after she chose “heart doctor” as her occupation, Supreeti Behuria wakes up each morning excited to help her patients find their best quality of life — a childhood dream that she realizes daily as a cardiologist at Prevea Health.
Born in India, Behuria was already familiar with the pronounced
wealth discrepancies around her. At just 4, Behuria was on her way home from a young friend’s birthday party. Clutching party favors of various snacks, the car she was riding in stopped for a prolonged traffic signal — a common occurrence on Indian roadways.
“I remember the exact moment,” Behuria said. “There was an old man. He was in his 70s, bald, wrinkled, with very few teeth and carrying a cane and wearing sunglasses. His granddaughter told me he was blind and had heart issues, but he was too poor to get health care. I gave him everything I had from the party. I just wanted to help him. My mom said, ‘When you grow up, you can make a bigger impact helping people.’”
Her mother’s words sparked an idea for that little girl with the thick, long braid resting on her shoulders. And in that moment, Behuria chose
to care for people’s hearts.
“Even in medical school and residency, I never found anything I wanted to do more than cardiology,” Behuria said. “I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
That’s not to say her father didn’t try to persuade her down a less rigorous path, though. “My dad didn’t want me to be a doctor. He wanted me to have a more laid-back schedule — he didn’t want me to work too hard,” Behuria said.
“He’s really into academics — both of my parents have Ph.D.’s. I tried literature and math, I tried to go with a more academic path but I never fluctuated in what I really wanted to be.”
ROAD TO GREEN BAY
Behuria’s route to Green Bay took plenty of twists and turns. Born in India, the Behuria family moved to the Phillippines, where she lived until
she was 10. Then, they returned to India, where she stayed until she graduated from high school. After graduation, Behuria moved to Chicago
to earn her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. She received her medical degree from New York Medical College and completed both an Internal Medicine residency and a Cardiology fellowship at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York.
And now, she has settled in Green Bay. Her mother, Parvinder Behuria, and father, Sutanu Behuria, are now retired and still reside in India. Her younger brother, Pritish Behuria, teaches developmental studies at the University of Manchester in England. Though they are scattered across the globe, the family remains tight-knit.
“I think the distance makes you realize how much you love your family,” Behuria said. “We are very close. I Facetime twice a day with my mom, and talk daily with my dad and brother.”
Her parents visit Green Bay during the summers and she and her brother visit India over the Christmas season. In fact, it is thanks to Sutanu
that she has the supportive social network here in Green Bay. He’s an avid bridge player and joined a Green Bay bridge club while visiting.
“He plays three times a week, so wherever he goes he joins a bridge club,” Behuria said of her dad. “We can go anywhere and my parents
will put down roots and make themselves at home.”
Behuria rises early each day to focus on her mind-body connection. Whether it is yoga — at home or at the nearby Grace Yoga Studio — or a
ride on her Peloton bike in her home overlooking the Fox River, she makes it a point to start each day with exercise.
“These activities are all good for heart health. In fact, there is data showing how yoga is beneficial for cardiovascular disease,” Behuria said.
As a child attending school in India, yoga was taught as part of the classroom curriculum. And Behuria tries to make those types of connections with her patients, too. In 2019 Prevea sponsored a series of events hosted by Behuria at Gather on Broadway focused on preventive cardiology and women’s health. She explored the benefits of wine and dark chocolate on heart health and yoga and smoothie mixology at the events.
Preventive care is at the crux of Behuria’s practice. “Taking care of people’s hearts is one of the best ways to contribute to their life happiness,” Behuria said. “I try to focus on preventive care. It’s easy to treat things once they happen, but to prevent them is where the most impact happens. My patients trust me. I give them an improved quality of life and they have confidence in me.”
DAY IN THE LIFE
Behuria spends the majority of her work day seeing patients in clinic. Her first appointment is typically scheduled for 8:00 a.m. and appointments continue until 4:30 p.m. But she often also has patients who are being treated at either St. Mary’s or St. Vincent hospitals, so she conducts rounds on them either before or after her clinic appointments. She also occasionally takes call at the hospitals. The majority of her clinic work involves performing stress tests and transesophageal echocardiograms. Behuria uses ultrasound to take pictures and gauge the functionality of a patient’s heart muscles and chambers along with the valves and blood vessels that connect to it.
These tests are part of treatment for a myriad of cardiac diseases including coronary artery disease, valve diseases, rhythm problems and heart failure. “I love what I do,” she said. “It is much more than a job for me.” Her cardiology emphasis extends beyond patients, though. Behuria also is a clinical assistant professor for the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Medical School Regional Campuses. So she has a hand in guiding the next generation of physicians as they rotate with her.
OUT OF OFFICE
A busy work schedule doesn’t leave a ton of time for Behuria to goof off, but when she gets a chance, she’s drawn to outdoor activities like golf and tennis at the Green Bay Country Club. Of course, winter halts those activities, so she’s trying to embrace the cold and learn to cross-country ski this year.
Ingrained in her DNA, however, is the desire to travel. She and her family visit each other often, but she also makes time to explore throughout the year.
“On weekends that I’m not on call, I like to travel — usually to Chicago or New York to visit my friends,” Behuria said. “I try to go on a friends’ weekend trip once or twice a winter and two big trips each year. I’ve actually traveled to 37 countries so far. But that’s nothing: my brother has been to more than 50 and my dad has traveled to around 100.” w