Philadelphia, PA—October 17, 2009
“Lupus patients are battling systemic inflammation, which in itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said Doruk Erkan, M.D. the program’s director and co-director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “But many of them do not know their risk, so it is extremely important to get counseling to manage risk factors such as smoking, obesity and hypertension, which may help decrease their chances of cardiovascular disease.”
Launched in March 2009, the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Counseling Program for Lupus Patients helps lupus patients think beyond their primary condition and take steps for future wellness. To assess the impact of the program, patients were given satisfaction surveys at the end of their initial visit and asked to rate aspects of the program, including quality of counseling and educational materials, likelihood of recommending the program to others, and improvement in the patient’s knowledge about cardiovascular risk. Overall, the results of the survey showed that patients were well satisfied with the free counseling program.
“Out of 27 patients, 25 – or 93 percent – have filled out the satisfaction survey,” said Virginia Haiduc, M.D, the program’s coordinator. “We found that over half of those patients were not aware that lupus was a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This program educates them about that risk and then helps them begin to decrease other risk factors that they have control over, such as poor diet and lack of physical activity.”
Monica Richey, R.N., ANP-BC/GNP–M.S., the program nurse, feels that the counseling not only helps lupus patients change their behaviors and lifestyle, but also extends to those around them. “One young woman who came to our program was 24 years old, morbidly obese and had three kids,” Richey said. “The next time she came back, she brought her kids because they were all upset with me. She had gone home and thrown out all the soda, cookies and chips. She was helping the whole family make a change to a healthier lifestyle.”
Based on their chart and information gained during the appointment, patients may also be referred to a nutritionist or a physical therapist to help them make changes that will lower their risk for cardiovascular disease. Sotiria Tzakas, M.S., R.D., CDN, from the Nutrition Department and Josephine Park, MSPT, OCS, from the Rehabilitation Department are consultants for the program and co-authors of the abstract being presented.
The authors say that their study highlights that programs designed to help patients understand the cardiovascular risks associated with lupus are very well received by patients. The counseling helps patients increase their knowledge and begin to make behavior changes.
“Physicians should recognize that patients do not understand their cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Erkan. “Educating them about these risks should be considered a part of standard lupus care. We would encourage other hospitals to create similar programs.”
As the program continues, Drs. Erkan and Haiduc will also analyze clinical factors to determine whether, in addition to behavioral change, there is a decrease in the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in the patients who have undergone counseling.
The counseling program is jointly sponsored by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Community Trust. The program is one of the patient education and counseling programs within the new Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care, which also provides lupus patients with comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessments, support programs and access to clinical trials. For more about the program and the center, please go to www.hss.edu/lupuscenter.
About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the eighth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2017-2018). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic on musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.