With Paris And Beirut In Our Hearts: Life Is Why

In light of the horrific massacres in Paris and Beirut, it is difficult for me, as one of the Early Career Voice bloggers at Scientific Sessions, to complete the task of writing a summary piece on the conference without addressing how these events might motivate us to continue with our global mission to improve cardiometabolic health and ultimately save lives.
This mission is agnostic to political inclinations, nationality, and religion. It will not directly impact the occurrence of violent crimes against humanity such as those committed in the past few days. However, as our hearts ache for citizens of both cities that are still suffering from these tragedies, remembering why we do what we do may provide some inspiration when we march on in a world that is grieving.

Anyone affiliated with American Heart is intimately familiar with the succinct yet powerful phrase, “Life is why.” In the context of the recent senseless loss of lives, this phrase has become even more poignant. As we return to our own lives and work, I would like to take a minute to reflect upon how we as members of the AHA family serve a positive role in the global community.

Life is …
… why cardiologists, cardiology nurse practitioners, and physician assistants don white coats 
     and stethoscopes to counsel patients with cardiovascular disease in their clinics and to round on  
     the acutely ill in the hospital.
… why cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists trained in interventional procedures jump into
     their scrubs and rush to the hospital in the middle of the night.
… why members of a clinical care team certify and re-certify in BLS and ACLS.
… why nurses spend long shifts tending to patients’ needs directly at the bedside.
… why medical trainees spend 80 hours (sometimes more) a week learning how to treat patients and
     think critically in applying evidence-based medicine.
… why scientists from a diverse range of training backgrounds devote so much time applying their
     expertise to cardiovascular research, testing their hypotheses, and passionately persevering to
     keep their research programs running so that they can continue to contribute knowledge advancing
     us closer to precision medicine and improvements in life-saving therapies.

In thinking back to Scientific Sessions, I felt the special buzz of energy created by thousands of people united in the AHA mission and working towards that mission in their own way. Whether we were learning to do chest compressions to that Bee Gees song people have come to know so well, presenting the latest results from a mechanistic wet lab study or from a large-scale clinical trial (e.g. SPRINT), inspiring youths to become the next generation of cardiovascular clinicians and scientists, or just catching up with long-distance friends and collaborators, we were engaged in a “celebration” of life, as Dr. Pankaj Arora, fellow EC Voice blogger, would say.

Our efforts to celebrate, improve, and save human lives provide a positive counter to recent unfathomable and troubling actions. Although we are battling a different kind of threat to human health and human lives, right now our work to eradicate the leading causes of morbidity and mortality is more important than ever. And life is why.

Jennie Lin, MD
Nephrology Post-Doctoral Fellow
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Philadelphia, PA

Jennie is an Instructor of Medicine in the Renal, Electrolyte, and Hypertension Division within the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Her research interests include an interdisciplinary, functional genomics approach to studying 1) macrophage biology in cardiometabolic diseases and 2) acute kidney injury.

Posted by Kelly Kozakowski on Nov 16, 2015 10:18 AM America/Chicago