As our nation celebrates Heart Month this February, I think of the remarkable work around cardiovascular disease that occurs every day at VCU.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America among both women and men, accounting for almost a quarter of all deaths. More than 70 million Americans live with the effects of heart disease, and it claims more than 600,000 lives every year.
We are dedicated to reversing those numbers. At the Pauley Heart Center, for example, my faculty colleagues have been leaders in cardiovascular research for more than 30 years — not just during Heart Month — and have made significant strides in combating this terrible disease.
They are undisputed leaders in their field, from writing the American Heart Association’s guidelines for acute cardiac care, to performing their first heart transplant in 1968, making VCU’s the longest-running transplant program on the East Coast and second oldest in the nation. We also performed the first artificial heart implant on the East Coast a decade ago and continue to make significant breakthroughs in valve surgery and mechanical assist devices, including with state-of-the-art ventricular assist devices.
From our recently renovated downtown Richmond hospital to outpatient centers across Virginia, our faculty bring together teams that include cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgeons with interventional cardiologist and imaging specialists. We also educate the next generation of heart health specialists, ensuring that leading-edge cardiovascular care will always have a home in Central Virginia.
That is why thousands of cardiovascular patients come to us every year for help, and why VCU Pauley Heart Center — made possible by $10 million in gifts from the Pauley Family Foundation since 2006 — is nationally ranked for its clinical care.
Beyond Pauley Heart Center, researchers all across VCU — in places like the schools of Medicine, Social Work and Business — are leaders in their fields of combating obesity in children, diabetes, cholesterol, stress and tobacco use, all of which contribute to heart disease.
In recognizing February as Heart Month, I am proud to highlight the many people at VCU who are dedicated to saving lives through their discoveries, clinical care, education and outreach — this month and every day.