World Heart Day 2014: Promoting Heart Health in Haiti and Beyond
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, according to the World Heart Federation. World Heart Day 2014 aims to draw awareness to the need for heart-healthy living around the world.
Six years ago, Finel came to HAS with intense chest pains, swelling in his abdomen and feet, and considerable difficulty breathing—unusual in a man his age. Because Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS) is open 24/7 for all patients who need care, the physician on call was able to immediately admit Finel to the internal medicine ward. Finel’s symptoms and an EKG test reading showing irregular heart function led to a diagnosis of congestive heart failure, a serious condition that if left untreated is often fatal. After three days of close monitoring in the hospital, his doctor determined the right combination of medications to help his heart recover and improve. HAS staff also educated Finel about how lifestyle changes could help to strengthen his weakened heart.
“I’ve had very good results here,” Finel beams, six years after his initial diagnosis. “All of the doctors have been great.” Finel is not just surviving, but leading a normal, productive life. “The medication helps me feel much better; I feel well,” he says.
HAS has recently seen a sharp rise in conditions such as hypertension, stroke, and heart failure, including cases like Finel’s. Patients in Haiti often lack the ongoing information, healthcare, and medications needed to manage these serious and often deadly conditions. At HAS, we know that to win the battle against cardiovascular disease, we must not only treat patients with life-saving interventions, we must educate patients about preventing these problems and encourage them to remain heart-healthy throughout their lives.
Dr. Judithe Narcisse, an internal medicine specialist at HAS since 2013, is currently managing Finel’s care. “His heart isn’t perfect, but he is much better,” Dr. Narcisse says. “He is stable and can live a very normal life.” Finel’s current treatment plan includes taking medications, like captopril (a common drug used to treat patients with congestive heart failure) each day, and he returns to the hospital every month for routine consultations to ensure that everything is working fine.
At HAS, we perform our work every day based on the principle of respect for human potential. Finel is just one of hundreds of patients that we see at the hospital with a chronic cardiovascular illness, and we are serious about providing compassionate, affordable, and high-quality care for them all.
Our patients learn how to manage their conditions, notice warning signs, and prevent future complications – all contributing to the intervention against cardiovascular disease in Haiti and throughout the world.