Dr Richard Kovacs on How ACC Is Leading the Charge for Credible Clinical Data Amid COVID-19

March 28, 2020

We need more than ever credible clinical data both on the pandemic, but also how to understand how the pandemic’s going to affect patients in the cardiovascular field, said Richard Kovacs, MD, FACC, clinical cardiologist and president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

We need more than ever credible clinical data both on the pandemic, but also how to understand how the pandemic’s going to affect patients in the cardiovascular field, said Richard Kovacs, MD, FACC, clinical cardiologist and president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Transcript

Much of the focus of the COVID-19 news right now is on patients who have underlying health conditions. How can ACC use this as an opportunity to engage the public about things like healthy eating or smoking cessation?

This is more important than ever, and with this being together with the WHF [World Heart Federation] and the World Congress of Cardiology (WCC), prevention worldwide is so important now and so important that we're going to push this out. The meeting itself is focused at our core membership, but certainly at CardioSmart and its editor Martha Gulati are doing a wonderful job at the patient facing information that's coming out on how to stay healthy during the pandemic. It also importantly is our clinician wellness and prevention for our care team to make sure that they're both healthy, that their families stay healthy and safe, and that we're able to continue to care for the cardiac patients that we need to care for during COVID-19.

One of your areas of focus coming into your year at the helm was data management and registry participation. How does the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for these tools?

Never before, has the need for credible clinical data been stronger. We understand from our registries that we need these data in order to be able to care for our patients in the best way possible. Now with COVID-19 on top of that, we recognize that these data—they have no borders. We need more than ever credible clinical data both on the pandemic, but also how to understand how the pandemic’s going to affect those patients, for example, who are awaiting transcatheter valve procedures and they're being delayed. How do we manage those patients through this in a safe way? We need these data more than ever.

What lessons have you learned from this experience that you will bring to your research and clinical practice going forward?

First of all, I've never been prouder to be an ACC member, and I've never realized more strongly the value of ACC membership because of our ability to pivot the meeting to a virtual space, get this information out, I continue to recognize our science going forward to engage our fellows in training to have a COVID-19 hub that is second to none in the world. This has been a very enlightening moment for me going forward in my clinical practice realizing the need to be part of a strong professional organization that can react in real time.

The second thing, and this is a reinforcement for my research and my practice in that we are in a global fight against cardiovascular disease. We're so appreciative of our partners at WHF and the WCC. We wish that this had been demonstrated in a different way than with a pandemic, but now we realize that our fight clearly has no borders. Many of us have recognized this for year—we can build up our strong relationships. As evidence of that, just a few days ago, more than 18,000 people were on a webinar on the ACC Hub led by Harlan Krumholz interacting with our colleagues in China.

I had the privilege—I was in Wuhan, China about 3 years ago teaching cardiovascular care leadership. We are a global family, we are a global profession, and never before has this become more evident. Then finally, going forward, I really want to give a shout out to the staff of the organizations–both to ACC and WHF. They have turned on a dime and pivoted to turn this meeting into a virtual meeting. There are no better staff in the world, and I really want to recognize them and recognize that going forward, cardiovascular care depends not only on the frontline clinicians, but so many of those people behind the scenes who support us in caring for our patients.