Cheney Cardiovascular Institute Announces Education Program Targeting Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 2, 2008 Contact: Anne Banner 202-994-2261

WASHINGTON, DC – The GW Cheney Cardiovascular Institute will hold an educational program on April 14, 2007, in Washington, DC. The program’s focus is on helping healthcare providers to implement new guidelines aimed at preventing sudden cardiac arrest, a condition responsible for 250,000–450,000 deaths every year in the United States.

Sudden cardiac arrest usually strikes with little warning, when the heartbeat abruptly stops as a result of an electrical malfunction in the heart. Until recently, victims of sudden cardiac arrest survived only if bystanders acted very quickly, shocking the heart back into rhythm with a device called an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and giving CPR until medical help arrived. Today, as a result of decades of clinical trials and other research, physicians are able to identify patients at the highest risk for sudden cardiac arrest and treat them with proven strategies outlined in new guidelines issued jointly by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and European Society of Cardiology.

“We now have means for identifying patients at the highest risk for sudden cardiac arrest, and we have valuable tools for preventing death in these individuals. At this program, we’ll be teaching physicians how to use the new risk-stratification criteria to predict which patients are at risk and then how and when to use implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), new surgical therapies, and drugs that have demonstrated efficacy in these patients,” says Dr. Cynthia M. Tracy, who is the program chair for the one-day course as well as director of the Electrophysiology Laboratories at The George Washington University Hospital and associate director of the division of Cardiology. Dr. Tracy will lead a faculty of renowned experts, in the program co-sponsored by The George Washington University Hospital.

“Leveraging the enormous resources of The George Washington University is a key part of how the Institute is approaching its mission to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, reduce mortality and improve the quality of life of Americans with cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Richard J. Katz, who is the Director of the Institute and Director of the Division of Cardiology and the Bloedorn Professor of Cardiology. “Educational programs, like this one on preventing sudden cardiac arrest, which teach physicians the best ways to incorporate new evidence and new guidelines into their patient care are one of the ways we’re attacking cardiovascular disease and working to achieve our mission.”

The program, titled “Primary Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Arrest: New Evidence and New Guidelines,” will convene at the American College of Cardiology Heart House, in Washington, DC. The course has been developed for all physicians who treat patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest including internists, emergency physicians, family physicians, general practitioners and other primary care providers. For more information about the course or to register, physicians should visit

About the Cheney Cardiovascular Institute
The Cheney Cardiovascular Institute at The George Washington University was established in 2006 by a generous $2.7 million dollar charitable contribution from Vice President Richard Cheney and his wife Lynne. The Institute’s mission is to promote clinical research, education and patient care and community service with the goal of accelerating the pace of scientific discovery, reducing mortality and improving the quality of life of Americans with cardiovascular disease. To achieve these goals the Institute seeks to provide an interdisciplinary structure to integrate basic and clinical investigators, clinicians, medical educators, health-policy experts, and community leaders.

Available for interview:

Cynthia Tracy, MD
Director, Electrophysiology Laboratories
Associate Director, Division of Cardiology and Professor of Medicine
The George Washington University Hospital

Richard J. Katz, MD
Director, Cheney Cardiovascular Institute
Director, Division of Cardiology, and Bloedorn Professor of Cardiology
The George Washington University Hospital