South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 22, 2019
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December 2007 - Volume 4 - Issue 6

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2007: A Year of Accomplishment and Promise

As the year draws to close and we think about all the tasks we have before us, it is always wise to look in both directions: to the past to appreciate all that we have been able to accomplish and to the future to understand how much more remains to be done. This process is no different for us at the Florida Heart Research Institute. Our core mission of stopping heart disease through research, education and prevention, is a somewhat daunting one. Not only is the goal, no matter how noble, an extremely challenging one, but the approach is somewhat difficult to quantify.

Cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly one million deaths each year, and, as such, remains the leading cause of death in America. However, the task before us, although extremely ambitious, is not insurmountable. Due to the research findings of the past several years, mortality in men and women has been on the steady decline. Moreover, due to research, we now know that, to a very large degree, the atherosclerotic process which accounts for the majority of heart disease is, to a very large extent, preventable.

Research and education, however, are both very difficult to quantify. Research in the most skilled of hands, grinds along at a slow and methodical pace, intermittently accelerated by remarkable breakthroughs and insights which suddenly propel the field to a new levelóa new level of slow and methodical endeavor. Education and Prevention are similarly unpredictable. Any teacher will tell you that it he/she never knows the full impact of his/her educational efforts. The rare student may come back years later, thankful for his/her remarkable accomplishments, all of which can be directly attributed to the education received. This, unfortunately, is the exception rather than the rule.

Despite these many limitations, it is fair to say the FHRI has enjoyed many notable research achievements in the past year:

  • FHRI research into the hormones of heart failure has yielded a novel therapy which is now entering clinical trials
  • FHRI studies of bone marrow stem cells have started to elucidate the mediators and control mechanisms related to heart attack
  • FHRI has organized a new initiative to study the genetics of sudden cardiac death
  • FHRI studies have demonstrated new mechanisms of myocardial protection
  • FHRI has launched a national follow-up study comparing surgery and PCI for coronary heart disease
  • FHRI has launched a major study to assess cardiovascular risk in Miamiís Hispanic population
  • FHRI published studies defining the long-term quality of life of patients undergoing valvular heart surgery
  • FHRI completed data collection on the largest long-term study ever performed on the use of the internal mammary artery in coronary bypass surgery The accomplishments in the field of education and prevention have been no less substantial:
  • FHRI has performed cardiovascular screenings for thousands of participants with outreach increasing each year
  • FHRI has launched a unique and innovative community-based program of education and prevention in the Pan-African community of Miami-Dade County
  • FHRI has completed a year-long community based health initiative for elderly residents of Miami-Dade County
  • FHRI has begun a unique program of corporate wellness, focusing on the small to mid-sized businesses of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties
  • FHRIís STOP HEART DISEASE license plate has heightened the awareness of heart disease throughout the state and continues to gain in popularity
  • FHRI lectures and teaching sessions have reached hundreds in the medical and lay communities
Despite these accomplishments, we at FHRI feel as though the job is just beginning. Each accomplishment, whether it be in research, in education or in prevention, brings with it an opportunity for further efforts, and thereby defines the agenda for our future.
Dr. Paul Kurlansky, board certified cardiothoracic surgeon, Director of Research at the Florida Heart Research Institute, can be reached at (305) 674-3154 or pak@floridaheart.org.
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