The Path Forward to Health Equity

Williams HeadshotThis post was authored by Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC, immediate past president of the ACC.

Throughout my ACC presidency, I focused on bringing attention to health disparities and finding solutions to ensure all patients receive the cardiovascular care they deserve. While my presidential term has come to a close, I am determined to continue advocating for the underserved.

As part of National Minority Health Month, I joined colleagues and lawmakers in Washington, DC, last week at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for the Democratic Forum on Achieving Health Equity: The Path Forward. I was honored to be invited by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (collectively known as the Congressional Tri-Caucus) to speak on a panel titled, “Examining Disparities Across the Continuum of Care through the Lens of Heart Disease.” Continue reading

Taking a Closer Look at Centralized Systems of Care

Kovacs headshotThis post is authored by Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC’s Clinical Quality Committee.

As a result of continued hospital and practice integration, as well as an ongoing evolution to a health care system focused on value, not volume, a trend towards more highly centralized and organized systems of care is emerging as a means of meeting the triple aim of improved outcomes, better care and lower costs.

As a concept, centralized care allows for common standards and goals across a system, making identifying problems or gaps in care, monitoring progress and achieving results more streamlined and arguably easier. However, moving from concept to reality does have its challenges given the need for alignment among a diverse group of stakeholders across the care continuum, as well as the need to overcome clinical, administrative and macroeconomic factors that differ from system to system.

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A Sister’s Love Uplifts Hearts

Robert Beekman HeadshotThis post was authored by Robert Beekman, III, MD, FACC, chair of ACC’s Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology (ACPC) Section.

This year at ACC.16 several congenital heart disease (CHD)-focused sessions and events will take place, including an ACPC Section “CHD Community Day” focused on “Using Data to Improve CHD Care Across the Lifespan.” Other events include the 47th Annual Louis F. Bishop Lecture given by Carole A. Warnes, MD, FACC, on “Adult Congenital Heart Disease: The Challenges of a Lifetime” and the 2016 Dan G. McNamara Lecture on “Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in CHD: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” given by Jane Newburger, MD, MPH, FACC. (Check out the Congenital Heart Disease Learning Pathway for more CHD sessions).

I am personally excited, however, to showcase the winner of ACC’s first “Design-a-Tie: Raise CHD Awareness” contest. The contest was open to anyone with a connection to CHD and a vision to share. The submissions we received from across the country were all amazing. However, one stood out from the rest. Continue reading

‘I am CardioSmart’ Contest Recognizes Inspiring Heart Health Stories

This post was authored by Marth Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, editor-in-chief of CardioSmart.org.

This month, CardioSmart announced the winners of its annual “I am CardioSmart” contest, which has been held every year since 2013 to recognize people living well with heart disease. People from across the country submitted their stories about how they have taken control of their health after a heart disease diagnosis.

CardioSmart asked their Facebook fans to “like” the story that inspired them the most, and Christian Jacobs from West Jefferson, OH, was selected as the overall winner. He won a trip to Chicago during ACC.16 where he will have the opportunity to share his story with ACC.16 attendees and be recognized at the CardioSmart Patient Engagement Reception. Continue reading

Congenital Heart Disease Awareness: Transitioning ACHD Patients Into Specialty Care

Marion Rae headshotThis article was authored by Marion McRae, ACNP-BC, a nurse practitioner in the Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) occurs in close to 1 percent of births with over 90 percent living to adulthood. There are now more adults living with CHD than children due to successful surgical and medical treatment over the last six decades. Unfortunately, many adults with CHD have fallen out of congenital heart care either because they were told they were surgically “fixed” or because they were never referred to adult congenital heart disease (AHCD) providers upon reaching adulthood.

It is now known from decades of follow-up that there can be life-long consequences of even the simplest congenital heart surgeries. In addition, we now know that many individuals with complex CHD repairs that have a single ventricle or a systemic right ventricle will experience early heart failure, arrhythmias, and far-reaching manifestations of surgical procedures, such as the Fontan operation, that subject the body to systemic venous hypertension leading to liver cirrhosis, pulmonary hypertension, esophageal varices, protein-losing enteropathy, plastic bronchitis, etc. Many of these individuals will go on to need a heart transplant or multi-organ transplantation in their second to fourth decade of life.  Continue reading

American Heart Month: Making Informed Care Decisions

Williams HeadshotThis post was authored by Kim Allan Williams Sr. MD, FACC, president of the ACC.

At the beginning of each new year, we make resolutions to create healthier habits, typically we try new activities and engage more with friends and family. February is American Heart Month – a month dedicated to raising awareness of cardiovascular disease and the benefits of heart health – and is a great time to renew or continue these resolutions – especially those related to health – so they become lifelong habits.

This year the ACC is taking part in several activities to raise awareness for Heart Month, with a particular focus on patient engagement and making informed care decisions. The month will also focus on initiatives within the College and ACC’s CardioSmart, including calling attention to special awareness weeks for congenital heart disease (Feb. 7 – 13), cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) (Feb. 14 – 21) and heart failure (Feb. 14 – 21). Continue reading

Fitness For the FIT: Practicing What You Preach

Nicholas Ierovante_Cardiology_PGY-4This post was authored by Nick Ierovante, DO, a fellow in training (FIT) at the Wright Center For Graduate Medical Education.

As I sat in the office discussing Mr. R’s recent hospitalization, I felt fine discussing his cath findings, percutaneous coronary intervention and new medications. Though soon after, I noticed a familiar apprehensiveness coming from myself. As I was discussing his statin regimen, the little voice in my head started quietly whispering. As I started to discuss his cardiac rehab and diet modifications, it grew louder. By the time I was discussing daily activity recommendations, my inner monologue was screaming “HYPOCRITE!!!”   Continue reading

The Stethoscope Lives

Williams HeadshotThis post was authored by Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC, president of the ACC.

A recently published Washington Post article, “Heart doctors are listening for clues to the future of their stethoscopes,” highlights important issues in cardiology, claiming that the stethoscope “is having a crossroads moment.”

The stethoscope is certainly not dead. Recent digital technology has upgraded the functionality of stethoscopes.  They now allow volume accentuation and frequency selection, as well as digital file transfer for teaching on rounds, competence testing, or audio file archival for comparison with prior or future recordings. Continue reading

Diabetes Education: Helping Our Patients Understand and Manage Their Condition

Martha_Gulati_image_comm_2015_08_04This post was authored by Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, editor-in-chief of ACC’s CardioSmart.

The global diabetes epidemic continues to grow at an alarming pace. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, with deaths from diabetes expected to increase by more than 50 percent in the next decade. In the U.S. alone, a recent study estimates nearly half of adults have diabetes or prediabetes.

Diabetes also comes at a high price. The total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion and the average medical expenditure among people with diabetes is more than two times higher than those without the disease. Further, indirect costs amount to $69 billion (disability, work loss and premature mortality). Continue reading

The Role of the Cardiovascular Genetics Counselor

Marion Rae headshotThis article was authored by Marion E. McRae, MScN, ACNP-BC, CCRN-CSC-CMC, a nurse practitioner in the Congenital Heart Program at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

Genetics counselors have specialized training in medical genetics and counseling at either the masters or doctoral level and are certified through the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Many states offer genetic counseling licensure. Genetic counselors working in cardiovascular genetics have additional clinical training and/or continuing education with regard to cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that there are currently about 50 – 60 cardiovascular genetics counselors in the U.S. Continue reading