Letter from the President

Cheryl R. Dennison Himmelfarb, RN, ANP, PhD, FAHA, FPCNA, FAAN

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD

I am honored and enthusiastic as I begin my term as President of PCNA. I am committed to advancing the role and recognition of nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease prevention.

Cardiovascular disease remains the primary cause of death and disability in men and women worldwide. Nearly 84 million adults, including men and women of all races in the US are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease -- and this number is expected to rise.1 However, we have seen the number of deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the US decrease over the last decade. And by one estimate, 47% of the decrease was due increased use of evidence-based interventions targeted at secondary prevention and 44% to changes in risk factors in the population related to lifestyle and environmental changes.1,2  I have no doubt that PCNA, an organization with a robust network of partnerships, alliances, and highly-engaged members, has contributed substantially to the improvements we have seen in the last decade and will continue as a leading organization in the fight to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The increasing global burden of cardiovascular disease, an expanding ethnically diverse population, and an aging population with multiple comorbidities, characterize today’s complex healthcare environment. These transitions provide an abundance of challenges and opportunities for cardiovascular nurses and advanced practice nurses to provide leadership in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. I am currently representing PCNA on a group of cardiovascular nursing leaders to update the Cardiovascular Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice.3 The group delineated the following key elements of cardiovascular nursing: 1) development of programs that promote heart health; 2) education and counseling about heart health; 3) interventions that reduce risk factors; 4) individualized evidence-based interventions that maintain or improve physiologic, psychological, and psychosocial health; 5) interventions that facilitate and optimize behavioral change and treatment adherence over time; 6) conducting research; and 7) advocacy to support patients and families during the planning, implementation, and evaluation of their care. Excellence in cardiovascular nursing requires advanced cardiovascular knowledge and skills. PCNA is committed to the continuing education and support of nurses so they may successfully rise to this challenge. 

I continue to gain personally and professionally through my involvement in our vibrant organization.  I encourage you to increase your involvement in PCNA. There are numerous opportunities to enhance your cardiovascular nursing practice and leadership through our webinars, regional and chapter meetings, and our annual symposium. I invite you to utilize PCNAs extensive online education and clinical tools, including exceptional patient education resources, and let us know if there are educational programs or products you would like to see added. I urge you to publish your research and clinical papers in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, which is recognized internationally for its excellence and broad coverage of important cardiovascular topics. Let us know how we can improve our communication with you and provide you with the tools to better serve your patients and your community. Join us on Twitter and Facebook.  Help us to ensure that PCNA is meeting your needs as you lead efforts to improve cardiovascular disease prevention and management.

1. American Heart Association. (2015). Update on Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/12/18/CIR.0000000000000152.full.pdf+html
2. Ford ES, Ajani UA, Croft JB, Critchley JA, Labarthe DR, Kottke TE, Giles WH, Capewell S. Explaining the decrease in U.S. deaths from coronary disease, 1980–2000. N Engl J Med. 2007;356:2388–2398.
3. American Nurses Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. (2008). Cardiovascular Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. Silver Spring, MD: Nursesbooks.or