Feds and AHA to co-host conferences: Five federal health agencies and the American Heart Association — including its American Stroke Association division — have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to speed progress toward the heart disease and stroke goals set forth in Healthy People 2010, a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative. The federal agencies and the AHA will work to accomplish a series of public health goals through focused initiatives such as promoting professional education and training, including co-hosting of national conferences and the dissemination of “best practices” among the cardiovascular community.

The agencies are The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health; the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the NIH; the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of Public Health and Science; and the Office of the Surgeon General, Office of Public Health and Science (Department of Health and Human Services).

The need for this partnership was underscored by the findings from the NHLBI-sponsored National Conference on Cardiovascular Disease and Prevention, which revealed that progress in reducing the death rate from cardiovascular disease has slowed and that there are striking differences in cardiovascular death rates by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography.

Palm pilots rule at this year's American College of Cardiology annual meeting, held in March in Orlando. Tech-savvy participants were able to reach into a pocket for their Palm-OS personal digital assistant (PDA), and examine the complete ACC 2001 annual meeting program, including their personalized itinerary and a guide to the exposition. While attendees were on site, they had the latest ACC/American Heart Association practice guidelines beamed to their PDA for easy use when they return to their patients back home.

A recent survey indicates that approximately 57 percent of all U.S. cardiologists use a PDA, an adoption rate far exceeding that of other physicians. Beginning in February, PDA users were able to download the ACC 2001 Final Program from the ACC Web site (www.acc.org), including the entire educational directory, hotel and shuttle information, a roster of info@ACC classes, and exhibitor information sortable by company name, product category, and booth number. The information was also available in Orlando at PDA beaming stations in the ACC exposition hall. The application also promoted sharing: PDA users were able to beam the entire program to colleagues with PDAs.


Sleep, a hot CME topic: Lack of sleep is an important factor in many health problems, yet most primary care physicians don't ask patients about their sleep problems, according to a survey released in January by the National Sleep Foundation. The telephone survey of 3,000 physicians was conducted from May to July 2000 by an independent research firm.

More than two-thirds of primary care physicians believe they should raise issues about sleep with their patients, however, 96 percent say the discussion is more likely to occur if the patient initiates it. Time is the major factor; 70 percent of those surveyed said discussing sleep issues takes time away from other medical problems.

Doctors may be waiting for their patients to address sleep problems because they think the problems are less prevalent than what patients report. Physicians said about 16 percent of their patients have a sleep disorder, and 14 percent suffer from insomnia. Yet the NSF poll found 62 percent of adults experienced a sleep problem a few nights a week or more in the past year, and 58 percent reported symptoms of insomnia. In addition, the physicians do not consider insomnia as urgent as many other health conditions. Bottom line: More than three-quarters of respondents said they are not as knowledgeable about sleep problems as they should be; nearly all want more training in sleep issues during their residency, with continued education made available, particularly in the area of insomnia.

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