CVLC


Cardiovascular Medicine at BWH 

Extending the Frontier of Cardiovascular Medicine

Heart disease is America’s leading health threat. Each year, more Americans die from heart attacks and strokes than from all cancers combined. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is facing this problem head on. At the center of our vision is our three-pronged approach: prediction, prevention and treatment. All have important ramifications for cardiovascular medicine today, and for the near future. Please contact Patty Shea at 617-424-4380 for more information about any of these programs and initiatives.

ADVANCING PREDICTION

We know that predicting heart disease is the key to preventing it. If we can identify the earliest genetic and biologic indicators of cardiovascular disease, we can find ways to prevent it. This approach harnesses the promise of “personalized medicine” in which the right treatment is used for the right patient, at the right time.

  • Predictive Personalized Medicine
    “Personalized medicine” matches a specific therapy with a person’s individual expression of heart disease. BWH’s OurGenes, OurHealth, OurCommunity project holds the potential to help predict early in life who is at risk of heart disease decades in the future so that we may stop the process well before a cardiovascular event occurs.
  • Using multimodality imaging techniques, including PET and MRI, our cardiologists are using the latest technology to visualize the earliest states of heart disease. From these observations, they may identify appropriate corrective treatments earlier in the disease process.
  • Research under way in the BWH Cardiovascular Genetics Center is probing how gene mutations can lead to the development of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in athletes and children.

PREVENTING HEART DISEASE

We know the best way to cure heart disease is to prevent it from happening at all. In an ideal world, we would all eat a healthy diet, exercise, and limit stress. Because such a utopia is unlikely, we must launch comprehensive individual and community-oriented screening efforts; provide educational and preventive programs; and influence health policy to help reduce heart disease in the U.S.

  • Promoting Wellness The Cardiovascular Wellness Service is a multidisciplinary effort that aims to create a measurable increase in cardiovascular wellness among program participants; eliminate health disparities among populations most at risk for cardiovascular disease; build an extensive database and undertake robust evaluations of all our programming to inform progress and potential replication; and raise awareness on a local, state and national level about effective approaches to improving heart health.
  • Disease Prevention Prevention exists at every level of the healthcare continuum. It is prevention before a heart attack, prevention of a second heart attack, and prevention of debilitating conditions that may develop when heart disease is present. It is about improving quality of life, and helping guide patients to make the best health choices for them. It is also about empowering patients to make health decisions by giving them access to information and resources.

IMPROVING TREATMENT

Many patients already suffer from heart disease or have underlying conditions that predispose them to future cardiovascular problems. For these patients, we are expanding our efforts to repair, rebuild or reverse the damage of injured heart muscle and blood vessels. We are working on regenerating and restoring damaged tissue by employing human tissues generated in the laboratory; developing minimally invasive surgical techniques; and creating new devices for correcting structural and electrical defects.

  • Restoring Damaged Heart Tissue Heart attacks (and sometimes cancer treatments) may leave the heart damaged. Depending on the severity of the attack, patients rely on medication to improve heart function. Some patients suffer from extensive damage, and depend on mechanical devices to survive. Still others endure a progressive degeneration of heart function, requiring more drugs and enduring a compromised quality of life. Our cardiovascular researchers are developing ways to regenerate and restore damaged heart tissue.
  • Arrhythmia Cardiac arrhythmias not only cause palpitations and chest pain, but they can also bring on more serious conditions such as congestive heart failure, clotting that can lead to a stroke, or even sudden death. BWH’s Cardiac Arrhythmia Service is working on developing more effective treatments for atrial fibrillation, including catheter, needle, robotic, cardioscopic, and MR-guided techniques. BWH’s Center for Advanced Management of Atrial Fibrillation. promotes the development of new technology and innovative therapies and supports research into the mechanisms of arrhythmias.
  • Advanced Heart Disease “Advanced heart disease” describes a number of conditions in which blood flow to the heart is reduced, causing damage to the heart muscle. This in turn, often leads to debilitating and life-threatening conditions. In some cases, patients with advanced heart disease are told they have exhausted traditional treatment options. At BWH, our Center for Advanced Heart Disease is providing best care for these patients, while also initiating several game-changing programs designed to yield profound improvements for our patients.These include the Brigham Cardiac Recovery Program which seeks ways to both to restore adequate heart function prevent the need for more radical treatments; the Cardio-Oncology Program which aims to address some of the heart ailments that may occur following cancer treatment, including left ventricular dysfunction, pulmonary hypertension and high blood pressure; and the Brigham Ambulatory Cardiac Triage, Intervention, Education (ACTIVE) program, a multidisciplinary approach to patient care provided by a dedicated team of heart failure clinicians including physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and advanced-care planning specialists.
  • Structural Heart Disease Approximately one million Americans are born with structural heart disease. Brigham and Women’s cardiologists are finding new ways to help these patients, including developing a Percutaneous Valve Replacement,  a pioneering technique in which diseased aortic valves were replaced by using a catheter threaded through blood vessels, saving patients who would otherwise not be candidates for surgery.

    In collaboration with some of our affiliated medical institutions, we have launched the Right Heart Failure Program, the nation’s first coordinated right ventricular failure working group to develop new models of care delivery. BWH offers an ideal setting to develop innovative treatment options using non-surgical techniques for relieving strain on the right ventricle and we are rapidly moving towards creating a standardized training program in this area.

Now is the time and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the place to make a philanthropic investment that could reshape the landscape of cardiovascular care. Our work will improve the lives of not only BWH patients and their families but men and women with heart disease around the nation and throughout the world. We hope you can join us as we strive to make a better world for our patients today, and for future generations.