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Cushman and Lakoski Represent AHA at Brazilian Cardiology Society Prevention Congress

(Left to right) Susan Lakoski, M.D., Donna Arnett, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., and Lynne Braun, Ph.D., C.N.P.
(Left to right) Susan Lakoski, M.D., UVM assistant professor of medicine; Donna Arnett, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., president of the American Heart Association and chair of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health; Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., UVM professor of medicine; and Lynne Braun, Ph.D., C.N.P., professor of nursing at Rush University College of Nursing. (Photo provided courtesy of the American Heart Association.)

Though American Heart Association (AHA) advocacy, education and research initiatives are making promising strides in the U.S., cardiovascular disease remains the world’s largest killer. On December 1, 2012, University of Vermont cardiovascular physician-researchers Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., and Susan Lakoski, M.D., M.S., took a long-distance step toward helping address this international public health issue.

Lakoski, an assistant professor of medicine, and Cushman, a professor of medicine, were part of a four-person leadership volunteer delegation, including current AHA president Donna Arnett, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., that attended the Brazilian Cardiology Society’s (BCS) III Prevention Congress, where a new AHA-BCS partnership to address CVD and stroke in Brazil was announced.

CVD causes a reported 315,000 deaths annually in Brazil – Latin America’s largest country – and disproportionately affects people under the age of 60. A recent European Society of Cardiology press release stated that mortality from CVD in Brazil has increased 3.5 times more than in other developing countries, despite successful prevention campaigns.

“The Brazilian Cardiology Society is excited to partner with the American Heart Association and be change agents in our country to encourage individuals to make the smart choices that will help them protect their health,” said BCS president Jadelson Pinheiro de Andrade, M.D., in the AHA’s press release on the event.

The AHA has had a long-standing relationship with the BCS, which has focused on fostering scientific exchange and building in-country capacity for health care professionals in emergency cardiac care. Through their new partnership, the two organizations aim to strengthen their collaborative efforts to advocate for an increased focus on CVD control, prevention and the development of joint initiatives that will support prevention efforts in the country.

The partnership will recognize that every sector has a critical role to play in reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease and stroke and empowering individuals with information to make heart healthy choices in their lives.

“Women will play a central role in any country’s efforts to address heart health and we see a great opportunity in partnering with the Brazilian Cardiology Society on this campaign,” said AHA’s Arnett.

Cushman, who serves as a member of the AHA Science Advisory Coordinating Committee, chair of the AHA Council Operations Committee, and a member of the AHA National Advocacy Coordinating Committee, presented a talk titled “Programs for Primary Cardiovascular Prevention: Searching for Simple and Effective Tools for Immediate Large-Scale Application.” Lakoski, a member of the AHA Interdisciplinary Committee on Prevention and member of the AHA Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, delivered two presentations – one on “Guidelines and Recommendations for Patients with Previous Myocardial Revascularization: from Percutaneous to Surgical,” and the other on “Secondary Cardiovascular Prevention:  is there Evidence Beyond Statins?”

In addition to scientific research presentations, the Congress highlighted the AHA’s global Go Red for Women campaign, which marks its 10th anniversary in 2013.

“We provided critical education and information to the Brazilians regarding how to build programs – using the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 as a model – and infrastructure , such as cardiac rehabilitation, to modify cardiovascular risk and improve survival from heart disease,” says Lakoski. “We received very positive feedback across a spectrum of health professionals, including student researchers, practicing cardiologists and health administrators, in the region. It is a great start to initiate change in the region and developing countries in general to prevent heart disease!”

Cushman also serves as president and Lakoski as a member of the AHA Vermont board of directors.

(Source: American Heart Association Nov. 30, 2012 press release)