Newswise — LOS ANGELES (Dec. 20, 2018) -- From testing barbershop-based care for hypertension to being the first to use new devices to treat aneurysms, 2018 at Cedars-Sinai’s Smidt Heart Institute produced clinical-based advances with the power to transform cardiac care and patient lives.

“It was a fast-paced, high-impact year for patient care and science,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Smidt Heart Institute. “Our team is dedicated to giving not just our own patients, but all heart patients around the world, the best chance at living a healthy and fulfilling lives.”

Highlights of the Smidt Heart Institute’s work during 2018 include:

  • Hypertension -- Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that African-American men lowered their high blood pressure to healthy levels when pharmacists stationed in African-American barbershops were able to meet with patrons and prescribe medications.
  • Structural Heart Disease -- Our structural heart disease program targets all major heart valves with innovative interventions. New percutaneous approaches to closing a patent ductus streamline the care of newborns, while transcatheter valve replacements give new life to elderly patients too frail for conventional surgery.
  • Women’s Heart Disease – Investigators at our Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center showed that often, women with chest pain are reassured by their doctors that there are no blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart attacks in men. But the study, published in Circulation, showed that about 8 percent of those women have scars on their heart, indicating they experienced a heart attack.
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest – Our research showed that weekday mornings are no longer peak times for sudden cardiac arrest and that obesity is an independent predictor of the usually fatal heart rhythm failure. Each finding edges a little closer to being able to prevent deaths from this sudden electrical glitch in the heart.
  • Biomarker Discovered for Most Common Form of Heart Failure -- Researchers discovered a biomarker for the most common type of heart failure, heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), affecting more than 6.5 million Americans annually. A simple blood test now can reveal whether a patient’s heart is not making enough of an important protein, enabling physicians to diagnose and treat heart failure sooner, slowing disease progression.
  • New Devices – Cedars-Sinai physician-researchers were the first to perform surgical procedures following FDA approval of new devices to treat leaky heart valves and aneurysms.

“But perhaps our most significant development of the year was receiving a $50 million gift from Eric and Susan Smidt and The Smidt Foundation, the largest gift in Cedars-Sinai’s 116-year history,” Marbán said. “The Smidts’ generosity will enable us to continue pursuing the innovations that improve cardiac health around the world.”