In that context, more than 15,000 of the nation’s best and brightest heart researchers, scientists, cardiologists, and other heart care professionals gathered at the American Heart Association’s 2014 Scientific Session in Chicago earlier this winter to share advancements in heart research and care.
Researchers shared results from a variety of research and clinical initiatives that are leading to improved cardiac care, better mortality rates for heart attack patients, and a better understanding of the genetic and lifestyle underpinnings of the disease — and researchers and clinicians from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute were at the center of some of the most influential and important research presentations.
One example of the Intermountain Heart Institute’s influence: Brent Muhlestein, MD, lead author of an Intermountain study highlighted by the AHA as a pivotal “late breaking” abstract, presented results of the study to more than 5,000 peers and over 100 journalists from across the country. The study found that routine heart imaging screenings for high-risk diabetics who had no symptoms didn’t help them avoid heart attacks or hospitalization, and that instead, high-quality diabetes management is still the most effective way for diabetics to avoid heart attacks.
Researchers used advanced coronary computer CT angiography to determine whether interventional screening would result in a reduction in death, heart attacks, and hospitalizations for these patients.
“We found the best treatment to prevent heart attacks and death among diabetics is excellent diabetes management,” says Dr. Muhlestein. “Fortunately, we’re already delivering that high-quality care and high level of disease management within the Intermountain system.”
Robert Harrington, MD, who chairs the AHA’s Committee on the Scientific Sessions Program, was very impressed with the research, and with the fact that a complex study of this kind was carried out within the Intermountain system. “It’s impressive to see a randomized clinical trial like this in a single healthcare system,” he said.
That study was one of 21 abstracts the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute presented for peer review at the scientific session.
“Amazingly, the abstracts our research is based on came from our own database and our own experiences here at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute,” says Jeffrey Anderson, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Research. “In research, this doesn’t always happen, since not all facilities have the database or tools needed to perform the kind of research we do. This allows us to do unique things that not many other institutions in the nation can do.”
One other unique feature of the Intermountain research presented in Chicago: Many of the studies are led by practicing clinicians. That unique perspective allows researchers to identify questions firsthand as they interact with patients and seek to provide the best evidence-based care.
“Our questions typically arise from concerns we have in the treatment of our own patients,” says Dr. Muhlestein. “We then design a study to find the answer, and based on the results, change our practice patterns by setting up guidelines backed by that research.”
The conference also marked a first for the Intermountain Heart Institute: The team unveiled a new interactive booth in the exhibit hall that featured examples of innovative heart care and ways the institute is improving heart care. The Intermountain booth was located near booths from the Mayo Clinic, Duke University Hospital, and other leading heart care programs.
“This was one of our most exciting and effective conferences we’ve ever been involved in,” says Don Lappé, MD, Chair of the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. “Between our impressive research findings and the new booth, we’re well on our way to establishing the Intermountain Heart Institute as one of the premier heart programs in the nation. I’m very proud of the work that’s being done to build our reputation and raise awareness about the amazing care we provide to our patients.”
Reporters from media outlets around the world covered the Intermountain Heart Institute’s research abstracts in roughly 200 TV news stories, newspapers, and journal articles, in media outlets ranging from U.S. News & World Report to the Salt Lake Tribune.
David Grauer, Intermountain Medical Center’s Administrator, adds: “The prominence of our cardiovascular team at this conference — and the attention their research earned around the world — are powerful validations of the high respect they have among their peers and their practical influence in improving how heart care is provided in hospitals nationwide. Congratulations to them for their impact and leadership. Truly they’re models of Intermountain Medical Center’s goal of being a model of how care should be delivered, regionally, nationally, and personally.”
View all of the abstracts Intermountain Heart Institute researchers presented at the conference.