Louisville native brings prestigious medical training back home to treat heart patients

Dr. El-Refai enjoys the high stakes of treating heart attack patients and is gratified by the number of patients he is able to help.

For Mostafa El-Refai, M.D., interventional cardiology is the best of both worlds. He gets to perform lifesaving procedures — inserting stents to open blocked arteries after heart attacks. As an interventional cardiologist with Norton Heart Specialists, Dr. El-Refai also gets to develop long-term relationships with patients and their families.

“It’s important for patients to understand I am here to take care of them like my family, like they’re my closest friends,” Dr. El-Refai said. “If every day, I work as hard as I can and do the best I can for my patients, that’s success.”

Born and raised in Louisville, Dr. El-Refai was offered a full scholarship to attend the University of Louisville. Having grown up comfortably in the city’s suburbs, Dr. El-Refai decided to challenge himself and go outside his comfort zone en route to becoming a physician.

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Louisville Native Sought New Experiences in Family’s Homeland

Dr. El-Refai turned down the University of Louisville scholarship and attended a combined college and medical school program at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, the country’s premiere medical school, set in a metropolitan area of 20 million people.

“Moving to a developing country, you see struggle. It grounds you,” said Dr. El-Refai, whose parents emigrated from Egypt to the United States. “It reminds you how fortunate we are, and everything we have here. Practicing in a resource-limited environment teaches you to strengthen your clinical skills, talk to your patients, examine them, and treat the patient not just the test results.”

After medical school, Dr. El-Refai did his medical residency at the prestigious Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, where he was named chief resident for internal medicine. Dr. El-Refai then trained in cardiology and interventional cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center in Houston, Texas, where he was chief interventional cardiology fellow.

Back Home, Dr. El-Refai Sees Interventional Cardiology’s Quick Results

Dr. El-Refai returned home to Louisville and joined Norton Healthcare in 2018. The young doctor enjoys the high stakes of treating patients following heart attacks and is gratified by the number of patients he is able to help.

“Interventional cardiology gets my blood rushing a little bit because we get to treat patients with heart attacks who come in unstable, and I get to really make a huge difference very quickly,” Dr. El-Refai said.

“You invest a lot of years in education and training in hopes you can make a difference every time you meet a patient,” he said. “And my hope is even when they come in very sick with a heart attack I can get them at ease, they can feel comfortable, and let the phenomenal team that we have, not just physicians but everyone else, take care of them and do the best we can for them.”

Dr. El-Refai said he is glad to be back in Louisville, close to his parents and brother. At home, Dr. El-Refai likes reading, as well as watching educational videos and TED talks. He enjoys traveling, exploring foreign cultures and learning from how others live.

“I am a lifelong learner,” Dr. El-Refai said. “I always want to feel like I am learning and expanding.”

In addition to his medical degree, Dr. El-Refai earned two master’s degrees, one in research, the other in business.


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