Last October, a group of Illinois legislators visited the University of Chicago Medical Center for two days of education and discussion about cardiovascular medicine and health care reform, part of a nationwide “Legislator in the Lab” program. In addition to laboratory tours and panel discussions, the legislators and their staffs heard a series of brief, informative lectures on different cardiology topics, from prevention of sudden cardiac death to the use of stem cells for heart tissue regeneration. Many of these lectures were videotaped and posted to the Medical Center’s YouTube channel, and I thought I’d share a couple of them here today.
Dr. Matthew Sorrentino on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease
Everyone knows a little bit about risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, age, family history, and tobacco use. But it’s important to remember that these factors don’t exist in isolation – instead, they interact in a way that can dramatically increase a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke. As such, cardiologists keep a scoresheet on their patients, adding up risk factors to determine a patient’s risk for heart attack. Matthew Sorrentino, professor of medicine in the section of cardiology, breaks down how doctors use these risk assessments, and how they can guide interventions that offer fast, powerful risk reduction.
Dr. Rupa Mehta on Heart Disease in Women
The undisputed leaders in the arena of women’s health awareness are breast cancer organizations, which routinely organize charity walks and fundraisers that draw thousands of participants and light city buildings pink. But as Rupa Mehta, assistant professor of medicine in the section of cardiology, reminded the audience in her talk, breast cancer and other diseases trail far behind cardiovascular disease as a killer of women. 460,000 women in the United States die from heart disease each year, which breaks down to about one death a minute. Mehta talks about the challenges that face physicians and patients in recognizing and treating heart disease in women, including watching out for the different set of symptoms – including fatigue, sleep disturbances, and shortness of breath – that signal an oncoming heart attack in females.