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A massive stroke marked a serious change in the weather for Mark McEwen, whose familiar face brought viewers the weather forecast on the 1990s’ “CBS This Morning.” McEwen keynoted the May 15 Cardiovascular Health Policy Summit in Washington, DC, describing how he struggled to regain speech, mobility and fine motor skills.

That struggle resonated with the summit’s attendees – including patients, advocates, clinicians, Capitol Hill staff and government representatives.  The day’s series of speakers and panel discussions illustrated how cardiovascular health issues are “both prevalent and personal,” as characterized during opening remarks by the Alliance for Patient Access’ Brian Kennedy.

Policy solutions also featured prominently.  In addressing the summit audience, U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, (R-Ind.) explained that he ran for public office because he thought the nation needed more health care providers in the federal government.  “Turns out I was right,” Rep. Bucshon noted.

Rep. Bucshon highlighted the challenges posed by the federal 340B drug pricing program.  He also lamented that the health care system overall does not provide incentives to bring down costs.

And costs are just one of the health care system’s challenges when it comes to cardiovascular care, as attendees and participants throughout the day explained.

The Diabetes-Cardiovascular Connection

A panel discussion on diabetes and cardiovascular health explored how comorbid conditions heighten risks and shape patients’ unique health care needs.

Access Barriers

Moderated by AfPA Cardiovascular Disease Working Group chairman Seth Baum, MD, a panel discussion on access barriers examined why heart patients struggle to get the care they need.

Overcoming Disparities

A third panel discussion explored how disparities impede cardiovascular care for certain patient groups.


Patients who survive heart attack or stroke often leave the hospital with an armful of discharge paperwork.  But do they read, understand or follow these instructions?  Most likely not, according to Corrie Health’s Francoise Marvel, MD, and Seth Martin, MD.  The duo spoke with AfPA’s Brian Kennedy in an on-stage summit interview.

“It’s not working,” Dr. Marvel explained of the current system, “and nobody’s doing anything differently.”

Nobody except Drs. Marvel and Martin, that is.  The pair joined forces with Johns Hopkins University to create Corrie, a smart phone app that helps keep heart attack survivors on track. From alerting the patient with reminders about medication and medical appointments to providing up-to-date research articles and videos, the tool equips patients to self-manage in the aftermath of a cardiac event.

The interview highlighted the growing space for technology solutions to improve cardiovascular health.

Despite obvious challenges in cardiovascular care, the summit’s overarching tone was one of hope.  From patients overcoming cardiac events to health care providers battling insurance barriers, Mark McEwen’s parting advice rang true for all of the summit’s attendees. “Don’t give up,” McEwen emphasized, “Pull your sleeves up and jump back in.”

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