Life May be on Pause. Your Health Isn’t.

“Life may be on pause.  Your health isn’t.”

This simple message came from a group representing the six largest health providers in Los Angeles County.  Both the message, and the fact that it was a combined effort from groups that are more often viewed as aggressive competitors, speaks to the manner in which this pandemic has put both patients and providers into a situation that they simply could not have foreseen.

Just a few months ago, almost all patients would quickly seek medical care if they were experiencing chest pain or another symptom possibly indicative of a heart attack.  But today, multiple providers around the world have reported on the alarming drop in patients presenting with acute cardiac events during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Unfortunately, for too many patients who delayed coming or never came to the hospital for cardiac symptoms, the opportunity passed for health care providers to make a difference.  This should be a startling wake up call for all of us.

It was encouraging, however, to see recently published harmonized guidance led by the ACC and AHA that discussed how we will ensure that physicians can make a difference for those who may experience an acute cardiac event in the days, weeks, and months to come, even as uncertainty around COVID-19 remains.  The guidance, which included input from no less than 15 North American clinical cardiovascular societies, was a thoughtful effort to balance ethical, safety, and public health demands.

So what did they say?  How do we move forward?  By working to maximize benefits carefully in terms of lives, or life years, clinicians can prioritize care for those patients who cannot safely be postponed.  Other recommendations were to minimize physical contact between patients and healthcare providers, incorporate more virtual visits, streamline invasive procedures, and conserve PPE for the most urgent cases.

As I considered this guidance, it reinforced for me why cardiac CT should be at the center of that effort for many patients.  Whether as part of an emergency department clinical pathway to provide a so-called quadruple rule-out (pulmonary embolism, aortic aneurysm, CAD, COVID-19) or to assess recurring typical angina in an outpatient setting, cardiac CT minimizes direct patient-staff contact, yet still enables physicians to confidently move toward treatment with increased understanding of each patient’s individual risk.

In the same way that providers are partnering in ways unforeseen 90 days ago, I am encouraged to see how these efforts to hear and learn from clinical data and experienced voices will change cardiac patient care moving forward.  Of course, our future will look different than our past.  But as clinicians, provider groups, and patients move forward arm-in-arm, we will have opportunities to deliver changes that will be better for all.

Read the Guidance

— A perspective from HeartFlow Chief Medical Officer, Campbell Rogers, MD
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Campbell Rogers, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Campbell brings a wealth of experience to HeartFlow, where he serves as the Chief Medical Officer. Prior to joining HeartFlow, he was the Chief Scientific Officer and Global Head of Research and Development at Cordis Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, where he was responsible for leading investments and research in cardiovascular devices. Prior to Cordis, he was Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-M.I.T. Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization and Experimental Cardiovascular Interventional Laboratories at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He served as Principal Investigator for numerous interventional cardiology device, diagnostic, and pharmacology trials, is the author of numerous journal articles, chapters, and books in the area of coronary artery and other cardiovascular diseases, and was the recipient of research grant awards from the NIH and AHA.

He received his A.B. from Harvard College and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School.