A Heart-to-Heart for Researchers
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research symposium encourages conversations, collaboration to improve cardiovascular health care
By Janet Byron
Evidence-based protocols for controlling high blood pressure — which were pioneered in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region — are now helping to improve heart health globally, Kaiser Permanente endocrinologist Marc Jaffe, MD, told the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) Regional Cardiovascular Research Symposium on March 14.
The second Cardiovascular Research Symposium drew approximately 80 people including researchers, sub-specialty physicians, quality and operational staff, and others from across Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region. It was convened at the Division of Research (DOR) in Oakland by Alan S. Go, MD, DOR’s associate director of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Conditions Research.
“The symposium showcases the incredible research being done by Kaiser Permanente researchers, and provides opportunities to engage about how to use research to improve our practice and expand our collaborations to take on the next challenges,” Go said.
Jaffe, the symposium’s keynote speaker, currently serves as senior vice president of the Resolve to Save 100 Million Lives campaign. He is spearheading the nonprofit’s Cardiovascular Health Initiative, which seeks to spread the basic elements of Kaiser Permanente’s “simple, evidence-based, and scalable” protocol for hypertension control.
“The world is at a tipping point. This year, more people on the planet will die from hypertension-related diseases than all infectious diseases combined,” Jaffe said. “My role is to take the great work that we’ve done here at Kaiser Permanente to the world.”
Throughout the day, a dozen speakers shared new and innovative Kaiser Permanente cardiovascular research on population-based heart care, specialty care, clinical trials, geriatric cardiac care, telestroke, emergency medicine, and more. Go led a group discussion on the opportunities and challenges around conducting clinical trials in a large, integrated health care system, and throughout the day participants had the opportunity to weigh in on research questions using interactive mobile technology.
“This symposium underscores the power that we at DOR have to convene conversations that bring researchers, clinicians, and operational leaders into productive interactions,” DOR director Tracy A. Lieu, MD, MPH said.
Following Jaffe’s presentation, Stephen Sidney, MD, MPH, DOR’s director of research clinics, presented data showing that mortality from heart disease and stroke at Kaiser Permanente Northern California declined significantly faster than national rates, especially among people 45 to 65 years old.
“We have implemented preventive programs, besides our excellent medical care and medical interventions, with the PHASE [Preventing Heart Attacks and Stroke Every day] program and a systematic attack on hypertension,” Sidney said. “Those programs have been enormously successful and that’s a good part of the reason that we’re touching younger populations and preventing mortality.”
Jamal Rana, MD, acting chief of cardiology at the Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center and a DOR adjunct researcher, previewed ongoing research linking cardiovascular health metrics with clinical outcomes at Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
“What’s incredible is that we had data for all six measures for cardiovascular health in almost a million patients,” Rana said. “This is a very powerful database, and it gives us a really nice report card for where we stand.”
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