The opening day of our 95th annual meeting set the pace for the rest of the weekend, discussing lessons learned and urgent challenges facing worldwide cardiovascular health.
Saturday’s Opening Session, moderated by American Heart Association President Dr. Michelle Albert and Dr. Manesh R. Patel, chairman of the Committee on Scientific Sessions Program, included former US Surgeons General Dr. Regina Benjamin and Dr. Jerome Adams, FDA commissioner Dr. Rob Califf and the president of the World Heart Federation Dr. Fausto Pinto. Together, they discussed hereditary conditions, lifestyle habits and environmental contexts which comprise the ever-expanding definition of what influences our total health. As Dr. Benjamin said during the presentation, health doesn’t just occur in the doctor’s office. It’s in everything we do.
At the end of the session, each panelist was asked “what can the AHA do?”, and the answers showcased the breadth of the American Heart Association’s mission and the significance of the work we’re doing.
What can the AHA do?
The AHA needs to continue to focus on structural issues within healthcare and its delivery systems to reduce health inequalities.
We need to continue to increase diversity in clinical trials, so that each patient that we treat can receive the individual, specialized care that they deserve.
The AHA needs to continue funding research, and providing science to the public to combat rising and rampant misinformation.
It’s time to send strong messages to our communities and to our decision makers to increase the focus and attention on improving the effectiveness of care in a post-COVID-19 world.
That post-pandemic world was the focus of its own session a little later in the day. Dr. Peter Libby, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said “I’m afraid with this pandemic we may have sowed the seed for an increase in cardiovascular disease risk.” He told attendees we all have a responsibility to combat misinformation and be prepared for the next pandemic. The session went on to discuss impacts of COVID-19 on a range of topics from health disparities, to stroke, pulmonary embolism, and even the cells lining each of our blood vessels.
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