DALLAS-The InterAmerican Heart Foundation⇓ (IHF) has begun a broad program of activities in its mission to “reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the Americas.” Since it was incorporated in 1995, the IHF has grown to 26 member organizations in 16 countries (see Table⇓). The foundation seeks to bring physicians, nurses, and other health professionals together with lay people into cooperative and coordinated efforts to fight cardiovascular disease (CVD). IHF programs concentrate on efforts to intervene against and mitigate the scientifically established risk factors for heart attack, stroke, infectious heart disease, congenital heart disease, and high blood pressure.
While many of the initial programs of the IHF are now directed toward medical and healthcare professionals, future programs will be developed for the general public in cooperation with its member organizations. Members now include foundations, associations, and professional societies in cardiology and other fields with an interest in prevention. Membership is open to any organization that wants to help in the fight against heart and blood vessel diseases in countries of the western hemisphere, including nations of the Caribbean.
The IHF issued its first medical and scientific recommendations for practicing doctors, Secondary Prevention of Coronary Disease and Other Vascular Diseases: A Proposal for Latin America, in 1996. Herman Schargrodsky, MD, of the Center for Prevention of CV Diseases at Italian Hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who is senior author of the statement, said, “Much information has been published...that makes us optimistic about significant and positive changes in the prevention of heart diseases and stroke, and, especially, the secondary prevention of these pathologies.” The IHF statement is published in Spanish and Portuguese and was based primarily on a consensus document published by the American Heart Association and endorsed by the American College of Cardiology (Circulation. 1995;90:3125-3133.). Thousands of copies of the IHF statement have been distributed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. IHF task forces are working on two other statements: one on primary prevention of heart attack and one on the underrecognized problem of heart disease in women in Latin America.
Every president of the IHF to date has pointed out the seriousness of CVD in the Americas. According to Ricardo J. Esper, MD, a cardiologist at the School of Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and former IHF president (in 1996), the main objectives of IHF are (1) to promote a healthy environment for prevention; (2) to help heart foundations grow in terms of their influence on professional and public education; and (3) to promote joint efforts between physicians and health scientists and business, industry, and government to reach common goals.
The current IHF President, James H. Moller, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) and past president of the AHA, has also emphasized the importance of recognizing CVD as a pediatric disease, a problem of children and teenagers. In October 1996, he told an audience in Buenos Aires that in industrialized nations one third of all children have at least one risk factor for heart disease and another third have two established risks, including the key risk of family history.
The foundation has received a grant from the AHA to help incorporate antismoking activities in at least 10 medical school programs in Latin America. Under study by a volunteer task force is a program to encourage physicians to guide their patients toward a life free of tobacco.
IHF has teamed up with its member organizations and other emergency care groups to promote the distribution of materials for and the development of emergency cardiovascular care educational programs. IHF has set up a program staffed with volunteers to persuade patients who have high blood pressure to take medications as prescribed and adopt heart-healthy lifestyles.
The foundation acts as a communications conduit by supporting the exchange of programs and materials between heart foundations. IHF recently worked with the World Health Organization Collaborating Center, headed by Dr Andreas Wielgosz at the University of Ottawa Medical School, to produce the statistical reference Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Diseases in the Americas, 1996. This document will be updated in 1998. It portrays the scope of heart disease and stroke in the American continents. IHF also has begun an English/Spanish newsletter, Hearts of the Americas (Corazones de América), for its member organizations and others interested in its programs and objectives. Every March, IHF sponsors an “Orientation to the American Heart Association” for staff and volunteers from similar organizations around the world.
IHF was created after establishing the need through many discussions with foundations, associations, and societies of the American continents. An organizing committee composed of Branco Mautner, MD, Richard Lauzon, Rodman D. Starke, MD, and Beatriz M. Champagne, PhD, took the formal steps toward incorporation. Dr Mautner is with the Favaloro Foundation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mr Lauzon, of Ottawa, Canada, is now Vice President of the International Society and Federation of Cardiology. Dr Starke, of Dallas, Tex, is the AHA's Senior Vice President for Science and Medicine. Dr Champagne, also of Dallas, is Executive Director of IHF.
IHF is housed at the AHA National Center in Dallas and began its work with financial support from the InterAmerican Society of Cardiology and the AHA. It has since been able to attract additional monetary support from the International Society and Federation of Cardiology and corporate sponsors in addition to membership fees.
Members of the 1996-1997 Board of Directors, in addition to Dr Moller, Dr Schargrodsky, and Dr Esper, are Bartolomé Finizola, MD, Medical Director, ASCARDIO, Barquisimeto, Venezuela; Elinor Wilson, PhD, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Ottawa; Romeu Meneghelo, MD, of the Dante Pazzanese Cardiology Institute, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Trevor Hassell, MD, of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Bridgetown, Barbados; and Ricaurte Arrocha, MD, School of Medicine, University of Panama, Panama City. Three volunteers who hold key positions on task forces are Dr Wielgosz; Palmira Pramparo, MD, of Posadas National Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Fernando Florenzano, MD, a cardiologist in Santiago, Chile.
The foundation is actively seeking membership by foundations, lay-oriented groups, and professional organizations throughout the western hemisphere that are interested in the worldwide problem of cardiovascular disease. Individuals and organizations that would like copies of publications or other information or to be placed on a mailing list for the newsletter and other information should contact the IHF at 7272 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75231-4596. Phone: 214-706-1218, Fax: 972-562-3807. Dr Champagne may also be reached via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Copyright © 1997 by American Heart Association