Skip to main content

Chinese Cardiologists Visit UNC Medical Center as Part of American Heart Association Collaboration

December 11, 2017
School of Medicine

“Time is muscle” is a saying used by physicians to express the importance of quick treatment in patients experiencing ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a very serious type of heart attack that can leave patients with chronic heart failure or send them into sudden cardiac arrest.  Guidelines established by the American Heart Association (AHA), including the Mission: Lifeline program, recommend how a hospital should prepare for treatment of STEMI by developing a complete system of care. Now the AHA is working to implement those same guidelines in China with help from cardiologists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“For the last several years, the AHA has been engaged with the Chinese Society of Cardiology (CSC) in a variety of quality improvement projects in China,” said Louise Morgan, director of international quality improvement for the AHA.

The China National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) invited the AHA to cooperate with the CSC on a project related to STEMI systems of care. In 2016, the formation of the project, Improving Care for Cardiovascular Disease in China (CCC), allowed the AHA to visit several Chinese hospitals and view their methods of treatment. In return the AHA invited a group of Chinese cardiologists to visit U.S. health care facilities.

“Part of the reason we’re in North Carolina is the state-wide effort of the Regional Approach to Cardiovascular Emergencies (RACE) initiative. And of course UNC’s Dr. Sidney Smith, with his wonderful relationships with the China cardiologists, was instrumental to bringing that China-U.S. connection together,” said Morgan.

Sidney Smith, Jr., UNC professor of medicine and former president of the AHA, has been aiding the AHA in its work with the CSC.

“Hospitalizations from STEMI represent an increasing health burden for China,” he explained. “There are a number of highly effective therapies that can significantly improve outcomes and reduce recurrent events in patients, but adherence to evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular care that implement these therapies for patients remains incomplete and highly variable.”

The CCC project aims to develop and implement an emergency medical system and hospital-based program to care for heart attack patients in China, where cardiovascular disease accounts for 45 percent of total deaths, as opposed to about 33 percent of deaths in the U.S.

During a visit to the UNC Medical Center Wednesday, about a dozen Chinese cardiologists from hospitals in Tianjin, Jiangsu, Hangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai toured an Orange County EMS ambulance, and toured UNC’s emergency department, helipad and cardiac catheterization lab. They also discussed UNC’s STEMI system of care with multiple UNC representatives. Jason Katz, associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Cardiac ICU, and Cristie Dangerfield, nurse manager of the Cardiac ICU, gave presentations about the management of patients who have been resuscitated from cardiac arrest. Kaitlin Strauss, coordinator of the medical center’s Chest Pain Center, explained UNC’s methods of gathering patient data, and noted they could improve that system by learning from Chinese methods, a benefit of the AHA partnership.

Read more on the School of Medicine website.

More News