Addressing disparities in cardiovascular health through precision prevention

By Katarina Fiorentino Klatzkow

Thomas Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., a professor emeritus holding dual appointments in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions department of epidemiology and the UF College of Medicine, served as a lead author on an article examining the current science of precision prevention to improve cardiovascular health, which appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Pearson and his co-authors’ article, titled “The Science of Precision Prevention: Research Opportunities and Clinical Applications to Reduce Cardiovascular Health Disparities,” recommends the use of new analytical methods to better understand data and create tools to determine patient risk for cardiovascular health disparities. Furthermore, their article emphasizes the importance of training medical practitioners in these novel approaches and precision prevention to close gaps in health equity.

Their analysis found that the advent of new data analytics tools has ushered in opportunities to create treatment strategies based on individual effects and risks to prevent cardiovascular disease. Such opportunities, as well as challenges, were discussed in a workshop held virtually last year by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which serves as the basis for their recommendations.

“The wealth of new data that are increasingly becoming available can be used in qualitative and quantitative analyses to create new estimates of individual or community risk and other tools that support clinical decisions, community policies, or other interventions,” the authors write. “These data and tools must advance the state-of-the-art beyond prediction to prevention, in which interventions can demonstrate changes in individuals’ or communities’ behaviors and burdens of disease.”

Additionally, report the authors, a well-trained and diverse scientific workforce with skills in precision prevention research is needed to forge sustainable improvements in cardiovascular health.

“Practitioners in clinical medicine and in public health require knowledge and skills to co-create and apply appropriate, effective precision prevention practices at the right time in the right individuals, families, and communities,” said the authors.

Both the workshop and paper were commissioned by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to refresh their strategic plan with updated research needs and approaches. Additionally, the institute recently completed a request for information for further input on the topics and issues raised by Pearson and his co-authors in their paper.

“This paper appears to be a positive contribution to national research policy related to cardiovascular health and disease,” said Pearson.