Patients Help Us Get to the Heart of Cardiovascular Disease
Pioneering medical educator William Osler said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” More than a century after his groundbreaking career, the American Heart Association and PCORI are taking Osler’s observation to heart.
As American Heart Month comes to a close, it is a fitting time to highlight how our organizations are working together to discover and guide cardiovascular disease treatment that’s more personalized for patients. Patients are at the epicenter of this research and we recently launched a project that explores new ways of listening to them.
Cardiovascular diseases affect more than one in every three adults. Heart disease and stroke cost the nation an estimated $316 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity, according to the AHA.
The good news is that our organizations play a critical role in research that’s improving treatment for heart disease and stroke. The AHA supports more cardiovascular research than any organization outside the federal government, and PCORI funds projects that compare the effectiveness of treatments and preventive measures. Yet the complexities that characterize heart disease still leave patients without answers to many of their questions—questions that the AHA and PCORI want to answer.
The Power of Teamwork
In one PCORI-supported study, a research team from Vanderbilt University aims to improve outcomes for ER patients with acute heart failure.
“Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure” is an AHA quality improvement program that’s typically used in inpatient settings. But this study compares “Get With The Guidelines” in an emergency department versus standard discharge in reducing hospital readmissions and cardiovascular deaths among people with low incomes and in racial and ethnic minorities.
In another example, PCORI last year awarded $18.6 million for a three-year pragmatic clinical trial to determine the best aspirin dose to protect patients with heart disease. This first study using PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, is comparing two aspirin doses commonly prescribed to people with heart disease to prevent heart attack and stroke. Called ADAPTABLE, the study will enroll up to 20,000 patients identified through several of PCORnet’s participating networks, including the Health eHeart Alliance, a patient-powered research network that’s supported by both PCORI and the AHA.
Working together, our two organizations are examining how we can ensure that research answers the questions that matter most to patients, while leading to more precise cardiovascular treatments and prevention strategies. Ironically, to figure that out, we need to ask even more questions.
A PCORI-AHA joint initiative will do just that, inviting a cast of thousands to help us of find the most important questions. We’ll combine the power of crowdsourcing with the lure of prizes. Our goal is to pinpoint critical gaps in evidence about how to prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease for specific patients based on their needs and circumstances.
Using input from patients, clinicians, family caregivers, and researchers, we’ll generate a prioritized list of critical research questions. Topics might range from high blood pressure to quality of life to women’s heart health to health disparities. We’ll select the most innovative, scientifically sound, and patient-centered research ideas to fund.
Our goal is not only to home in on the greatest needs in improving cardiovascular health, but to learn how we can best apply this crowdsourcing model to a range of other conditions.
We look forward to working with communities across the country that want to help us change the heart health landscape. We’re moving fast, and we hope you’ll join us. The challenge will be posted this spring. Stay tuned for more information.