The American Heart Association's New Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine
"One size does not fit all."
These 6 simple words represent the fundamental concept driving an unprecedented initiative of the American Heart Association, the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine. In the field of heart disease and stroke research, we have seen enormous knowledge advances in recent decades, all of which have led to breakthroughs in our ability to treat and prevent these illnesses. We celebrate these advances because they are allowing us to save and improve more lives than ever before. Despite these great advances, there are still far too many patients suffering and dying prematurely. Through tremendous advances in cardiovascular science and the translation of knowledge into more effective therapies, a problematic aspect of many current therapies is that their efficacy can be variable. We are still not sure why some patients respond more favorably to certain medications, or certain dosages, than others. And we still cannot predict why a given surgical technique will achieve widely different results among patients. It seems clear that when it comes to providing patients with meaningful, efficacious solutions, one size does not fit all. We created the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine because we need to learn more, much more, about the patients who depend on us to provide care that is best suited for them. Each patient has a unique genetic profile, has unique lifestyle habits, and has been affected by unique environmental factors over the course of his or her life. All of these factors play a critical role in determining which approach might be best for addressing a patient's needs and in recognizing potential red flags that can complicate the treatment process or cause unnecessary risk. In addition to learning about patients, we want to find better ways to get to know patients. There is no shortage of discussions in the scientific literature about the need to improve doctor-patient communication and consider the quality of the overall patient experience as opposed to focusing solely on treatment outcomes. Patients should be given a platform to express their preferences and concerns, not only with respect to the clinical setting, but also in the design of research studies. All of us in the medical profession want to do our best on behalf of patients, and more effective listening to patients should improve their care.
- Received October 18, 2016.
- Accepted October 18, 2016.