January 01, 2012

Heart of the Matter



Heart of the Matter

An estimated 1.3 million Russians die each year of cardiovascular disease. In St. Petersburg region alone, one out of every four citizens suffers from heart disease and its complications. The causes are legion: excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, unhealthy eating habits, insufficient education, socioeconomic factors, and of course genetics. Heart attacks, strokes and sudden death are commonplace; mortality rates are staggering – four times that of the U.S.

These stark realities are what has brought a group of six cardiac specialists from Yale New Haven Hospital to St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk as part of a long-term program for training and mentoring Russian cardiologists. They are led by cardiac surgeon Michael Dewar, president, team manager and American coordinator of the Almazov Foundation of North America. Other team members include Timothy Dutton, perfusionist (heart-lung machine operator), diagnostic cardiologist Jaime Gerber,* critical care nurse Zuzana Svitek, interventional cardiologist Howard L. Haronian, and anesthesiologist Amar Lamba.

Over the past five years, 28 select Russian physicians and surgeons have completed 4-5 week fellowships at Yale-New Haven’s Heart and Vascular Center, working alongside cardiac specialists, learning about American medical practices. But the training does not stop there. Soon after the Russian fellows complete their U.S. training, their mentors travel to Russia to reinforce those skills, to complete the circle.


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