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“Lupus patients are battling systemic inflammation, which in itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said Doruk Erkan, M.D., the program’s director and an associate physician-scientist at the
Caption: From left, Virginia Haiduc, M.D.: Doruk Erkan, M.D.; Monica Richey, R.N.: Josephine Park, MSPT, OCS: and Sotiria Tzakas, M.S., R.D., CDN
Monica Richey, R.N., talks about the program with the lupus patients she works with at the ambulatory care center and reaches out to Hospital for Special Surgery rheumatologists to encourage them to refer their lupus patients. A brochure that physicians can distribute to their patients has been developed and there is already an 800 number available for patients to call and make an appointment for counseling.
When a patient makes an appointment, the individual’s chart is sent to the program for review by Richey and the program coordinator, Virginia Haiduc, M.D. Then, using a presentation that the team put together and based on different guidelines, including those from the American Heart Association, Richey sits with the patient for 45 to 60 minutes walking through the risk factors and how they apply to the patient.
“Sitting with the patients and teaching them is my favorite part,” says Richey. “It has a ‘wow’ effect because they didn’t know that they are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. I can see that they really come away with something and it also helps us understand how to effectively communicate with patients so that they do understand the risks. It is a true information exchange.”
Based on their chart and information gained during the appointment, patients may also be referred to a nutritionist or a physical therapist to help them make changes that will lower their risk for cardiovascular disease.
After their initial visit, the program will continue to follow patients to judge whether the counseling can decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors in the short term and potentially cardiovascular events such as strokes or heart attacks in the long term. Two similar programs, one in
“The most important outcome is the education of the patient,” said Dr. Erkan, assistant attending rheumatologist and clinical researcher at the hospital. “Having patients understand their increased risk of cardiovascular disease will, we hope, ultimately improve their overall health and help prevent cardiovascular events.”
The counseling program is jointly sponsored by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Community Trust.