Penn Medicine Cardiologist is Honored with American Heart Association Top Award: 2023 Edward S. Cooper, MD Award

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Dr. Richard Snyder of Independence Blue Cross Receives Regional Award from American Heart Association

On February 8, 2023, local leaders come together to celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Richard Snyder at Penn Medicine’s Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine’s CPR Kiosk. Dr. Snyder received the Leadership Legacy Award from the American Heart Association’s Eastern States Region, an award given to only a select few. Dr. Snyder has volunteered with the Association for many years, including being the Philadelphia region’s board chair. He has always been passionate about CPR, raising awareness and teaching those in the Philadelphia region Hands-Only CPR.

Why It Matters: Each year more than 350,000 people suffer out of hospital cardiac arrest, only 10% of those people survive. Dr. Snyder has played an integral role in helping to improve those odds by helping to create the CPR Ready Coalition in Philadelphia. This coalition was created in 2016 with a goal of increasing the number of people who are trained and willing to perform hands-only CPR. This coalition is comprised of: American Heart Association, American Red Cross, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, CPR/AED Public Awareness and Training Network, The Health Care Improvement Foundation, Independence Blue Cross, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Penn Medicine, Philadelphia Fire Department, and the School District of Philadelphia.

Dr. Snyder was also instrumental in bringing the first CPR Kiosk to the Philadelphia Region, at Penn Medicine’s Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, where people can learn CPR at their own pace, and beready to help someone in crisis.

“Hands-Only CPR is a powerful tool that takes only 60 seconds to learn and can double or even triple a victim’s chances of survival. said Richard Snyder, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer at Independence Blue Cross.

Kevin Mahoney, CEO University of Pennsylvania Health System, was on hand to help present the award to Dr. Snyder, along with the Fire Commissioner of Philadephia, AdamThiel, Gregory Deavons, CEO of Independence Blue Cross  and Jennifer Litchman-Green, Executive Director of the American Heart Association of Philadelphia, all of whom shared the same sentiment, that Dr. Snyder always puts the patients and the community at large first.

 

Damar Hamlin’s Inspiring Recovery: CPR Saves Lives 

While playing in the Buffalo Bills – Cincinnati Bengals game on Monday Night Football on January 2, Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after a hit and was administered CPR on the field before being transferred to an area hospital.

Hamlin reportedly experienced a cardiac arrest – when the heart stops abruptly with little or no warning. Early recognition of cardiac arrest improves the person’s chance of survival and is key to starting the correct care of CPR and the appropriate use of defibrillation to restart the heart. The on-site medical team evaluated the situation and appeared to quickly remove his safety pads, begin CPR and apply the automated external defibrillator (AED).  

CPR can help keep the heart pumping and blood flowing to vital organs until an electrical shock from a defibrillator is available to restore the heart to a normal heart rhythm. Then the patient can be safely moved for further medical treatment, supportive care, testing to determine what the cause of the arrest may have been and recovery, including both physical and mental health resources for the person and their family.

Possible causes

Cardiac arrest can have several causes. Since Hamlin collapsed immediately following a tackle on the play, one potential cause could be commotio cordis. Commotio cordis is a rare phenomenon from a sudden blunt impact to the chest causing sudden death in the absence of apparent cardiac damage. The blow to the chest at precisely the wrong time in the cardiac cycle causes an electrical abnormality in the heart resulting in  an irregular heart rhythm that cannot pump blood to the body.  Immediate CPR and a shock to reset the rhythm can help the heartbeat return to normal function.

Another cause of cardiac arrest that additional tests are likely to attempt to detect or rule out is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) or a thickened heart muscle – a more common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people and athletes specifically. The thickened heart can be due to a genetic condition or can be caused by athletic conditioning that thickens the muscles of the heart and can make it more susceptible to an irregular heart rhythm like ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia.

“This was traumatic for everyone, especially Hamlin’s family and teammates but also for so many others involved and witnessing the event. More than 70% of cardiac arrests that do not happen in the hospital, occur in a home where access to medical professionals and an AED is not as readily available,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association. “Recognizing a cardiac arrest, calling 911 immediately, performing CPR and using an AED as soon as it is available are critical for survival.

Statistically speaking, it is likely that the person will need to be helped by a family member or a friend to survive.”

Having community members trained in CPR and AEDs in public spaces can increase the chances of survival. The rate of bystander CPR in North America is estimated at only 39-44%, and only about 1 in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Improving the rate of bystander CPR is critical to increasing survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).

The skill to perform CPR and use a defibrillator are the foundational components of preparing laypeople to respond to cardiac arrest. People also need to feel emotionally prepared to respond and be able to cope with the aftermath of performing CPR.

Resources for learning CPR

Each year in the United States, an estimated 350,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest in the community. Anyone who witnesses a cardiac arrest in the community (i.e., not in a hospital) can perform CPR. Roughly 70% of cardiac arrests that do not happen in the hospital, occur in homes and private residences, therefore, a friend or family member is mostly likely to be the person who needs to take action. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double, or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

For adults and adolescent children, Hands-Only CPR is an easy-to-learn skill that requires only two steps: call emergency services and push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute.

For more information, visit heart.org

 

Eating for Heart Health

There are a lot of things we can do to improve our health. Eating a heart healthy diet is one of them. Bayhealth Primary Care Physician, Preeti Gupta, MD, explains, “Maintaining a healthy way of eating can help prevent many ailments, including heart health issues. And I always say, prevention is better than a cure.”

One of the best ways to eat for heart health is with a plant-based diet. It’s a healthy way of eating that won’t have you sacrificing flavor. Better yet, countless studies suggest that eating less meat decreases the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Here are Dr. Gupta’s suggestions to transitioning to a plant-based way of eating.

Plant-based eating
There are three main types of plant-based eating. The strictest is vegan, which eliminates all animal products such as meat, eggs and milk. Next, is vegetarian, which eliminates meat but still allows eggs and dairy products. Both are very heart healthy ways of eating but if they are too much of a leap for you, perhaps you could try the third type of plant-based eating called, “plant-forward” eating.

The plant-forward lifestyle
Eating a plant-forward diet means that you eat vegetables and fruit more often and as your main dish. You can still enjoy meat, eggs and dairy as side items. When you do choose meat, try to stick with lean, skinless poultry and fish, which are excellent sources of protein. Other meats are more likely to be high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can contribute to poor heart health. You should also avoid processed meats such as deli meats and bacon, which are typically high in sodium.

Load up on veggies
In plant-forward eating, vegetables are the main portion of each meal. Did you know that most vegetables contain protein? Broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, corn, potatoes and peppers are some that provide needed protein. Beans are another source that can add flavor and texture to your meals. Also, have healthy fruit servings throughout the day which will help satisfy the sweet cravings.

Whichever plant-based eating plan you try, remember to choose foods lower in sodium and avoid added sugars, saturated fats, and especially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans-fat. Watch portion sizes and use nonstick cooking sprays rather than added fats when cooking. Don’t forget healthy whole grains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Eliminating certain foods may be easier than you think. Once you begin a plant-based diet, your body will start reaping the benefits almost immediately – and you’ll feel better in general. “Don’t put off living your healthiest life by waiting until Monday to start your nutrition plan,” said Dr. Gupta. “You can do this. Just start now.”

 

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Greater Washington Executives and Companies Make Bold Commitments to Heart and Brain Health

On the ninety-eighth anniversary of the founding of the American Heart Association, Greater Washington Region leaders are making bold commitments to stand with the Association as it drives toward its 2024 Impact Goal which is focused on improving cardiovascular health for all while identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.  

 “As champions for health equity, the American Heart Association believes that everyone everywhere deserves the opportunity to live a full and healthy life” said Owen Billman, chair of the Greater Washington Region Board of Directors and president of Blake Real Estate “Although we have made tremendous progress in fighting heart disease and stroke in our community, our work is far from complete. The American Heart Association Founders Day provides a great reminder that we must continue the fight so every single person in our community has access to the resources they need to be healthy.” 

The American Heart Association, the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, was founded in 1924 by six cardiologists, and the distinguished achievements of the organization over nearly one hundred years are the result of the passion of more than 40 million volunteers, supporters and employees who together have raised – and funded — more than $4.8 billion in research 

For nearly a century, the American Heart Association has saved and improved lives, pioneered scientific discovery and advocated for healthy public policies in communities across the country. These bold moves have helped transform the nation’s overall health and significantly reduce heart disease and stroke death rates. 

Reaching for bold goals is made possible because of like-minded leaders who share in the vision of better health for Greater Washington. Leading supporters of the American Heart Association in the Greater Washington Region include: The Bender Foundation; Harrity & Harrity, LLP; The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Charitable Fund, a fund of the American Endowment Foundation, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Linda Gooden & Laird Lott, Kaiser Permanente, SAIC, and Sheehy Auto Stores 

Another bold commitment made by local leaders is the commitment to serve as chair for Greater Washington Region signature events through 2024. These seven chairpersons have demonstrated the leadership needed to catapult the American Heart Association into achieving their 2024 Impact Goal, signing on to chair future campaigns:   

  • Cynthia Cifuentes, Vice President of Brand, Communications and Community Engagement at Kaiser Permanente, and Dr. Ameya Kulkarni, an interventional cardiologist and the lead for cardiology and cardiovascular surgery at Kaiser Permanente, serving as 2022 Heart Challenge Co-Chairs 
  • Deb Wells and Kara Walsh of the Women’s Board of the American Heart Association serving as 2023 An Affair of the Heart Luncheon & Fashion Show Co-Chairs
  • John Harrity, Partner of Harrity & Harrity and David Jaffe, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at American University Washington College of Law, serving as 2023 Lawyers Have Heart 10K Race, 5K Run, and Fun Walk Co-Chairs  
  • Sanjay Sardar, Senior Vice President at SAIC, and Vishal Tulsian, Senior Vice President at SAIC serving as 2023 Heart Ball Co-Chairs 

 ”We are just getting started on the next chapter of our relentless work to end heart disease and stroke,” said Vishal Tulsian, Senior Vice President of SAIC.  “We know that we can’t achieve our monumental goals alone and are grateful to the Greater Washington community for the passion and commitment they give to support the mission of the American Heart Association.” 

Driving to achieve the 2024 Impact Goal, the American Heart Association will continue to lead breakthroughs in science and technology, improve health care and advocate for federal, state and local policies drive healthier lifestyles.  

To learn more about the American Heart Association visit, heart.org/FoundersDay or contact elizabeth.treble@heart.org for more information.