AHVC Celebrates First Anniversary

The UCSF Asian Heart and Vascular Center (AHVC) celebrated its first year of Asian-focused care, outreach and education recently during a celebration at UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion. The event drew widespread community support and a declaration of May 10, 2007, as "Asian Heart and Vascular Center Day" by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. The first service of its kind nationwide, AHVC was founded in an effort to bridge the cultural and language gaps that often prevent Asian patients from getting the best possible cardiovascular care they need.

From left, Regis Kelly, executive director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research at UCSF Mission Bay, Gordon Fung, director of AHVC, and Karen Rago, administrative director of HVC, enjoy the reception.

"There is a myth that Asians are at low risk for heart and vascular disease, but that is definitely not true," said AHVC Director Gordon L. Fung, MD, MPH. "Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death of Asian Americans. But many Asians don't seek care or seek care late, either because they don't understand their risks or because they have trouble communicating with their doctors regarding their symptoms." Fung has dedicated his cardiology career to providing culturally sensitive and language-appropriate care. He co-founded the center to reach out to the Asian community, physicians and medical students. So far, the center has focused on Chinese patients, the largest group of Asians in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it plans to expand across the major Asian subgroups. The program includes Asian-focused clinical care, research and medical student training, as well as community education. Vital in AHVC's efforts to help patients understand the disease and take proper care of themselves is setting up a patient library with a collection of cardiovascular health information in major Asian languages, according to Diana Lau, RN, MS, CNS, AHVC's administrative director and co-founder.
Diana Lau, Karen Rago and Mary Lou Licwinko

From left, Diana Lau, administrative director of the AHVC; Karen Rago, administrative director of the Heart & Vascular Center; and Mary Lou Licwinko, executive director of the San Francisco Medical Society, enjoy the reception.

"Patients might seek care from health care providers a few times a year, but they are responsible for managing their chronic illness the rest of the time," Lau said. "So helping Asian patients learn in their own language and culture about disease processes, treatment options and especially symptom recognition is an important goal of our program." The center is also in a unique position to contribute to global medical research on Asian heart health, Fung points out. Traditionally, clinical studies on diseases, treatments and medications have focused on white males, he says, with other groups receiving care based on those parameters. Because of the center's Asian focus, it hopes to contribute new research knowledge about the unique characteristics of Asian cardiovascular health, diseases and management. Related Links: UCSF Opens First Asian Heart and Vascular Center in the United States
UCSF Today, May 15, 2006