Heart doctors gathered in Grand Cayman to share the latest in cardiovascular research and technology as part of Cayman Heart Fund’s 10th annual symposium at the Marriott resort on Thursday.
The event focuses on heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the Cayman Islands, said the fund’s vice chairwoman, Dr. Bella Beraha.
“Education is number one,” Dr. Beraha said. “If we don’t stay current, we don’t know what to offer people. Medicine now moves at a speed that is comparable or equal to technology. Just like you change your iPhone every year, the same goes for medicine,” she said.
“Prevention is key. We are a very small hub, so that means we can have a very big impact as well.”
This year’s program brought doctors to present on their latest research from several U.S. health providers: Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute, Cleveland Clinic of Florida, Holy Cross Hospital, Jackson International, and Memorial Healthcare System.
Dr. Steven Bibevski of Memorial Healthcare System, who presented on congenital heart surgery and pediatric care, said coming to Cayman offered an opportunity to build cross-border relationships with other specialists.
“I take great pride and pleasure in coming to hospital systems outside the United States, identifying areas with the locals that they want improvement on and sharing protocols and being available as a resource,” he said.
Dr. Constantino Peña of the Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute reflected on measures to avoid a leading Caribbean killer.
“Cayman Heart Fund and having awareness of vascular disease is crucial for us in terms of future disease and events,” he said.
“Modifying the behaviors we can modify – smoking, watching high blood pressure, watching glucose and knowing what our cholesterol level is – is very important for the future. If we can do that at an early age, we can control that. I think our risk of a heart attack or stroke would go down significantly.”
Dr. Charles Russo of Holy Cross said that genetic testing can also provide early diagnostics.
“There are certain cardiac conditions relating to cholesterol and thickening of the heart muscle, as well as weakening of the heart muscle, that are very good candidates for genetic testing,” Dr. Russo said.
He emphasized the importance of leveraging resources between clinics to connect patients with the best specialists for their situation.
Dr. Robert Cubeddu of Cleveland Clinic spoke about realistic goals for a small jurisdiction like the Cayman Islands.
“I think the potential for the Cayman Islands is always there. Certainly technology brings along costs for resources and a certain degree of infrastructure that is needed at times,” he said. “So it is truly the responsibility of the leaders in healthcare to dictate and determine whether the cost benefit of these new and evolving therapies is worthwhile in smaller populations.”
For certain conditions, he recommended patients travel for treatment and seek post-operative care with specialists on island.
All of the visiting doctors spoke about the potential for partnership and the hope that Cayman will continue to solidify international bonds for heart health.
Dr. Beraha highlighted preventive public initiatives throughout the year, including screening and educational programs and a children’s task force.