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Duke Heart Pulse — March 31, 2024

Duke Heart Pulse – March 31, 2024

Highlights of the week:

Happy Elite 8 Easter Weekend

To all those celebrating the holiday this weekend with family and friends, we wish you a very Happy Easter, and to all those celebrating the advancement of their favorite NCAA teams in the men’s and women’s tournaments, a big congratulations!

We’re excited to see Duke MBB take on the Wolfpack today at 5 p.m. and hopefully continue onward to the Final Four. Go Duke!



Gaca Appointed Section Chief, Adult Cardiac Surgery

We are pleased to share that Jeffrey Gaca, MD, has been appointed section chief for Adult Cardiac Surgery. The announcement was made last week by Dr. Carmelo Milano, MD, chief of the division of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

Gaca completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell University and medical school at Columbia University. His training in both general surgery and cardiovascular and

Jeffrey Gaca

thoracic surgery was accomplished at Duke University.

In 2008, after completing an additional aortic surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, Gaca joined the Duke Surgery faculty as an assistant professor in the Division of CT Surgery. In 2016, he rose to the academic rank of associate professor.

Gaca is one of our most talented cardiac surgeons and has developed a tremendous valvular surgery practice with regional and national referrals, Milano said. He has distinguished himself as a leading educator of our residents and is the recipient of the Dr. Dwight C. McGoon award for commitment to resident development.

In addition, he has been an important mentor for junior faculty, helping them navigate complex cases and challenging intraoperative situations. He is also known for his innovation and has worked closely with Dr. Don Glower to expand minimally invasive heart surgery, making Duke University a leading referral center for these procedures.

He has worked with Dr. Chad Hughes and the cardiologists to grow the transcatheter valve replacement program. In his new role, Gaca will work closely with Milano to develop young cardiac surgery faculty and further drive innovation and growth.

Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Jeff in this new role!


Kelsey to Receive SOM Master Clinician Award

Anita Kelsey

We are excited to share that Anita Kelsey, MD, has been selected as a recipient of the Duke School of Medicine’s Master Clinician/Teacher Award for 2024. This award was created to honor individuals for superlative accomplishment in teaching and/or clinical care at Duke’s School of Medicine. The intent is to honor those individuals who have made an extraordinary commitment “above and beyond” normal expectations. “Dr. Kelsey has certainly met the criteria and is most deserving of the honor,” said Edward Buckley, MD, in his notification letter.

The award will be presented to Kelsey at the annual Faculty Celebration at Duke Gardens on May 13, 2024.

Congratulations, Anita!



ACC.24: Fortified Eggs Did Not Raise Cholesterol in Modest-Sized Cardiology Study

There are often conflicting headlines about whether certain foods are good or bad for you, and the news about eggs has been especially confusing. Search the topic online and you’ll find a wealth of articles spanning back decades.

A study that will be presented during the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Sessions and led by researchers at Duke, offers new evidence on fortified eggs, which are eggs enriched with various vitamins or nutrients. In a modest-sized randomized trial, researchers found that fortified eggs did not have a negative impact on bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) or good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) over the course of the four-month study.

The study was sponsored by Eggland’s Best, a company that makes and sells fortified eggs. It also provided the eggs used in the research.

The study had 140 participants, all people aged 50 or older, who had experienced at least one cardiac event in the past or had risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as diabetes. Researchers randomized participants into two groups, asking half to eat two or fewer eggs per week for four months. The other half were provided with fortified eggs and asked to eat 12 per week for the same period of time.

While no significant changes in bad or good cholesterol were found, a secondary finding hinted there could be some benefit associated with fortified egg consumption for older patients and patients with diabetes.

That secondary finding was not statistically significant due to the number of study participants, but cardiologist and senior researcher, Robert Mentz, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, said it’s an interesting signal that the researchers would like to investigate in future work.

“If we can explore this area further, in a larger study, specifically focusing on the type of patients who appear to have potentially experienced some benefit, and over a longer period of time, we could see if it is possible for fortified eggs to improve cholesterol,” Mentz said.

The study’s first author, Nina Nouhravesh, MD, a cardiology fellow at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, said the study can be viewed as a pilot study.

“While it was modest in size, it did include a broadly generalized population,” Nouravesh said. “The average age of participants was 66 years, half were women, and more than 25 percent identified as Black.”

Mentz said the enrollment was representative of the community, especially for a study aimed at cardiology patients.

He said he would like to move forward with a larger study assessing clinical outcomes, particularly when considering the topic of equity and food access.

“There are disparities around access to food,” Mentz said. “Individuals who are the most socially disadvantaged (and likely have more instances of high blood pressure and diabetes), often have less access to healthy foods. Often what we hear described in the community is access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Those are really time-limited foods that may go bad quickly. Fortified eggs can be safely stored in the refrigerator for longer periods of time. Investigating potential health benefits of an easily accessible and less time-limited food is something we should be doing.”

“I think we are in this exciting time where people think of food as medicine,” Mentz said. “Some foods are fortified and nutritionally optimized before they’re disseminated, similar to medications, so it’s exciting to use the same rigor that’s applied in medication trials to food science.”

In addition to Mentz and Nouhravesh, study authors include Josephine Harrington, Laura H. Aberle, Cynthia L. Green, Kathleen Voss, Dave Holdsworth, Kurt Misialek, Bartel T. Slaugh, Mandee Wieand, William S. Yancy, and Neha Pagidipati.


Duke-DCRI Reception at ACC.24

For those of you attending the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Sessions (April 6-8), please join us at the annual Duke-DCRI Reception taking place on Saturday, April 6, 2024, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. EDT, at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at Centennial Park in Grand C Ballroom, North Tower-M4.


Team Builder’s Gift Launches Heart Innovation Hub

(This story was posted to Giving to Duke Health.)

Most people understand the importance of team building, but few take it as seriously as Bob Keegan: building innovative and successful teams was the tenet of his professional career. Now Keegan is empowering a pioneering Duke Health team with a transformational gift to kick-start the new Duke Heart Precision and Innovation Collaboratory headed by Manesh Patel, MD, chief of the division of cardiology and the division of clinical pharmacology.

“I am grateful for the many contributions Bob has made to Duke Heart,” Patel said. “We are excited to use his philanthropy to build our team, expand our cardiovascular knowledge base, and then translate that knowledge into new treatments, disease prevention, health promotion, and outstanding patient care. Most importantly, he is supporting our innovation efforts with the next generation of leaders.”

Keegan grew up around teams. His father was a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Sox, and while Keegan was a talented athlete who grew up thinking baseball was in his future, his love of academics prevailed. What followed was a degree in mathematics from Le Moyne College and an MBA in finance from the University of Rochester. Business, it turns out, was Keegan’s calling. He knew early on that what drove him was a heartfelt desire to build teams that would produce innovative products people would love and benefit from.

Decades later, it was time to scale back, be closer to family, and plan for the future. Keegan knew that living near a top-notch medical facility such as Duke was important, and with four grandchildren nearby, moving to the Triangle was an easy decision.

When he suffered heart trouble, Keegan experienced firsthand the incredible talent and skill of the Duke heart team. “My surgery was an amazing experience,” he said. “I benefitted from a tremendous group of talented people, before and after the procedure.”

The professionalism and team culture he witnessed ignited Keegan’s desire to bolster Duke Heart’s impact and accomplishments. So, when a friend suggested he join the Duke Heart Leadership Council, he leapt at the chance to contribute his time and business expertise. Currently serving as the council chair, Keegan is extending his support with his personal philanthropy toward the development of the new Duke Heart Precision and Innovation Collaboratory.

The Duke Heart Precision and Innovation Collaboratory aims to expand the boundaries of the possible and improve cardiovascular health worldwide with a comprehensive, long-range, and multi-phased team approach. Phase 1 will identify promising discoveries in precision genomics, device innovations, and human performance. Phase 2 will scale those discoveries to launch clinical trials, research grants, and new treatment options.

An effort this visionary and all-encompassing, with the potential for global impact, requires immense resources. With a stellar leadership team in place and eager to see the potential realized, Keegan contributed the first $1.5 million toward the Collaboratory’s $10 million fundraising goal.

This initial funding stimulates the process of collecting and compiling huge swaths of data to build the country’s first comprehensive cardiac genomic database and first comprehensive cardiac performance database. Such large volumes of data will allow Duke Health researchers to conduct in-depth analysis and gain a better understanding of trends and patterns.

A second area of further research is a deeper understanding of human heart performance. The gap between a high-performing heart and a failing one is surprisingly small, and the variations and drivers that account for the difference are not well understood. The Collaboratory aims to close this gap.

In addition to this work, the team will optimize devices capable of improving individual patients’ physiology. Duke Heart is an innovator in this space, with one of the largest heart failure device laboratories in the United States. Personalizing the future of device therapy for patients with heart failure will save countless lives.

Keegan built his successful business career by making teams better. Sometimes it was a matter of switching personnel, but often it was choosing the right stimulus to bring out the best of existing team members.

“Duke Heart is a great team that already produces a great product,” he said. “I’m just doing what I can to keep it moving forward so that people are as proud of Duke’s accomplishments in 40 years as they are today.”


Bova Campell to Join HRS Board

Kristen Bova Campbell, clinical pharmacist for Duke Electrophysiology, has been appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS). She will become the first PharmD to serve in this capacity when she begins her term in May during the HRS Scientific Sessions scheduled for May 16-19 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston.

“It is an honor to be selected as the first PharmD on the HRS Board and to represent all Allied Health Professionals within HRS,” says Bova Campbell. “I am excited to collaborate and contribute to the Society’s mission of providing optimal care to patients with heart rhythm disorders.”

Bova Campbell is director of the PGY2 Cardiology Pharmacy Residency and director of the Duke Heart Center Anticoagulation Clinic. She will join Jonathan Piccini, MD, section chief of electrophysiology, who also serves as a member of the Board, and Sana Al-Khatib, MD, currently serving as 2nd Vice President for the Board.

Congratulations, Kristen!


Rebecca Dial Named NM, Invasive Labs & CVSSU

We are happy to announce that Rebecca Dial, BSN, RN will serve as Nurse Manager, Operations for the adult Invasive Labs and Cardiovascular Short Stay Unit effective April 1, 2024.

Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2013. Her career spans cardiovascular telemetry, cardiac-surgical stepdown, and cardiac catheterization lab nursing. She has worked in the Adult Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Duke University Hospital since August 2020 and served in a variety of roles, including preceptor and charge nurse. In July 2023, she transitioned into the Assistant Nurse Manager role within the labs and has focused on improving scheduling practices and providing professional development opportunities to staff.

Rebecca is looking forward to partnering with leaders across the organization. Please join us in welcoming her to her new role!


Frye Regional TAVR Training

Dr. John Morrison, an interventional cardiologist with Frye Regional Medical Center and a community consulting associate with the division of cardiology at Duke, spent time throughout March with our Duke Heart Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) team.

Frye Regional Medical Center is a Duke LifePoint hospital and full-service cardiovascular center serving a large geographic area in the Catawba Valley region of NC. As an affiliate partner, members of Duke Heart and the Duke Heart Network have been working closely with the team at Frye Regional to help them prepare for the launch of their new TAVR program.

“The willingness of the Duke Heart team to collaborate with regional partners has been clearly evident to Dr. Morrison and he has commented on how wonderful every interaction has been,” said Lisa Kotyra, senior director, Duke Heart Network.

Under the guidance of Kevin Harrison, MD, Morrison had the opportunity to observe all Duke structural cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and our multidisciplinary team as they worked through the TAVR process and procedure.

Morrison is shown here with Drs. Harrison and Hughes.

Kudos to Gaca!

In a note forwarded this week from David Gallagher, chief medical officer for Duke University Hospital, we have a kudos for Jeff Gaca, our new section chief for adult cardiac surgery:

“We received this nice feedback (from Press Ganey HCAHPS) about the great care you and your team gave to a patient at Duke Hospital. Thank you for the high quality and compassionate care you provide to patients! I believe this is the third Press Ganey inpatient comment in a short period of time from patients who are so appreciative of you.” — David Gallagher, MD

“I can’t say enough good about the nurses in the ICU unit after open heart surgery. I came to Duke from Naples, FL and so glad I did. Dr. Gaca is an amazing surgeon.” — a grateful patient

Way to go, Jeff!


Shout-out to Cheri Wills!

A note of appreciation to Cheri Wills, health center administrator (HCA) for Duke Cardiology of Raleigh and Duke Cardiology of Morrisville, whose last official day with Duke Health is today, March 31. Erica Bradshaw is the new HCA for these locations; she has been training with Cheri since last summer.

Cheri, we wish you all the best in retirement, and thank you for your terrific work over the years!


Duke Heart & 2024 NC Walk for Victory

Duke Heart will again serve as the presenting sponsor of the upcoming NC Walk for Victory in support of Marfan Syndrome, LDS, VEDS, and related conditions, with Dr. Chad Hughes serving as co-medical chair for the walk with Carly Scarborough of Levine Children’s Hospital.

The event is scheduled for 12-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 at Laurel Hills Park in Raleigh. To learn more, please visit the NC Walk website and consider joining the Duke Aorta team to raise funds for research!


Last chance! Mere Days Remain to Support Frazier-Mills!

Camille Frazier-Mills

If you have not already done so, please join us in supporting electrophysiologist Camille Frazier-Mills, MD, one of the Triangle American Heart Association’s Women of Impact in her campaign to raise funds to support Go Red for Women.

Frazier-Mills is representing Duke Health as a Woman of Impact in the 2024 campaign and we want to help her reach her campaign goal. By donating, each of us can support her campaign and help ensure more women have equitable access to cardiovascular care and better representation in critically needed medical research.

** Check out Camille Frazier-Mills’ campaign page and please donate by April 4. **

Every year across the country, a select group of individuals are nominated to be a part of Woman of Impact because of their passion and drive to make a difference. This 9-week blind competition is relentlessly focused on women’s heart health. The campaign launched on National Wear Red Day (Feb. 2) and closes on April 4. During this time, the nominees work to build campaign plans, recruit Impact teams, and inspire their networks to support the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission.

At the end of the campaign, this special group of changemakers will be celebrated for the overall impact they have on the AHA’s mission and the Triangle community. The nominee who makes the greatest impact and raises the most funds locally will be named a local 2024 Woman of Impact Winner.

Additionally, the nominee who makes the greatest impact nationwide will be named the American Heart Association 2024 National Woman of Impact Winner.

Let’s help her reach and exceed her goal – let’s help her WIN! Go, Camille!


Upcoming Events & Opportunities


Cardiology Grand Rounds

April 2: SCERRI Stories: Mechanistic Insights Into Sepsis Induced Cardiovascular Dysfunction with Willard Applefeld, MD. 5 p.m., DN 2003 or via Zoom.

April 4: Using Nationwide Registries to Conduct Pragmatic Randomized Trials with Tor Biering-Sorensen, MD of the Center for Translational Cardiology and Pragmatic Randomized Trials, Denmark. 5 p.m., DN 2002 or via Zoom. *Special CGR event*

April 9: Heart Failure: Does Sex Really Matter? with Carolyn Lam, of Duke-NUS MD. 5 p.m., DN 2002 or via Zoom.

All Duke Cardiology Grand Rounds recordings are housed on Warpwire. To access recordings please visit:

NET ID and password required. Enjoy!


CD Fellows Core Curriculum Conference

April 3: EP Case Presentation with Joshua Rushakoff and Jawan Abdulrahim. Noon, DMP 2W96 (in-person only).

April 5: We will not meet today.


Upcoming CME Symposia

April 12: Duke Sports Cardiology & Sudden Death in Athletes

May 4: Duke Heart Failure Symposium

For any questions you might have about either event, please reach out to Christy Darnell.


2024 Feagin Leadership Forum

Consider joining members from throughout the Duke community for a special Duke Centennial event, the 15th Annual Feagin Leadership Forum at the JB Duke Hotel on May 17-18. The theme for the Forum is Compassion, Collaboration, and Compromise: Leadership in a Polarized World. World-class leaders from business, healthcare, the military, and athletics will share their leadership expertise and how they address the challenges of our complex world. There will be special welcomes from Duke leaders, and the future leaders of healthcare — this year’s Feagin Leadership Scholars — will share their work and leadership insights.

For more details, go to https://www.feaginleadership.org/schedule-1.

To register, visit https://www.feaginleadership.org/2023registration-1.


Improving Conversation Skills with Seriously Ill Patients

To ensure that clinicians feel comfortable and empowered to have difficult conversations regarding goals of care with patients and their families, members of the Duke Hospice and Palliative Care team offer VitalTalk communication training so that they can help clinicians do their best to take care of our patients.

VitalTalk skills training is open to those involved in conducting or supporting Goals of Care conversations for our patients with serious illnesses across Duke Health. The course consists of a 30-minute didactic lecture in the LMS system, followed by a 3-4 hour skills practice session. CME/CEU credits are available once both activities (LMS and live practice) are completed.

A limited number of seats are available in each of the upcoming online VitalTalk skills practice courses – use https://duke.is/VitalTalk to view available dates and times and to register.

If you have any questions, please contact Jonathan Fischer, MD, medical director of palliative care for Duke’s Population Health Management Office.


Have news to share?

If you have news to share with the Pulse readership, please contact Tracey Koepke, director of communications for Duke Heart at tracey.koepke@duke.edu. We would love to hear about your latest accomplishments, professional news, cool happenings, and any events or opportunities that may be of interest to our Duke Heart family. Please call with any questions: 919-681-2868. Feedback on Pulse is welcome and encouraged. Submissions by Noon, Wednesdays, to be considered for weekend inclusion.


Duke Heart in the News:

March 22 — Adrian Hernandez

Medpage Today

Tracking Trends in Lung Cancer Incidence, Death in the U.S.

March 22 — Jenny Wu, Brian Southwell, Jonas Swartz

JAMA Network

Patients Are Turning to TikTok for Health Information—Here’s What Clinicians Need to Know

March 23 — Susan Spratt

Senior Resource

Medicare to Cover Wegovy for Patients with Heart Disease

March 23 — Nishant Shah

Everyday Health

Weight Cycling May Increase the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

March 25 — Susan Dent (medical oncology)

The ASCO Post

Cardio-Oncology Is a Growing Subspecialty, but Where Are the Oncologists?

March 26 — Harry Severance

Becker’s Physician Leadership

The erosion of physician autonomy

March 27 — Stephen Greene


Most HFrEF Patients Eligible for Quadruple Therapy, but Few Get It

March 28 — Nina Nouhravesh

Good Morning America/ABC News

Eating a dozen eggs a week doesn’t hurt your cholesterol: Study

March 28 — Monique Starks

The Clemmons Courier

Demonstration of historic, first-in-the-nation, AED drone delivery held by FCSO

March 28 — Nina Nouhravesh

Today/NBC News

Are eggs bad for cholesterol? New study reveals how many you can eat

March 28 — Duke Health

The People’s Pharmacy

The Never-Ending Egg Dispute Continues

March 28 — Nina Nouhravesh


Scientists bust myth that eggs are bad for your heart

*also carried by 80 affiliate outlets including in Chicago, Dallas Ft. Worth and New York

March 28 — Nina Nouhravesh

Healio/Cardiology Today

Routinely eating fortified eggs may not adversely affect cholesterol

March 28 — Nina Nouhravesh


Eating 12 Eggs a Week Didn’t Raise Cholesterol Levels, New Study Finds

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