Michelle A. Albert, MD, MPH, past president of the ABC and current president of the American Heart Association, is featured in several articles in TIME Magazine’s recent end of year special issue, “The Future of Medicine.”
In “Where Do We Stand” by Janet Lee, in a section on “redefining health,” Dr. Albert explains how social determinants of health play a significant role in chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and how it can negatively impact our ability to lead healthy lives.
“Traditionally a lot of the focus for heart health has been on things like blood pressure and quitting smoking, but now we’re including social determinants of health as part of our guidelines,” says Dr. Michelle A. Albert, president of the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “For example, sleep impacts blood pressure and if you live in an environment where you’re under stress, sleep quality is poorer. So you just can’t tell people to get better sleep.”
Dr. Albert is also featured in the article, “Missing Link: Equity” by Janet Lee, in a section on “Training at Schools,” where she identifies workforce diversity as a critical factor in achieving health equity.
Besides teaching medical students about the importance of social determinants of health and how to screen for them (if clinicians can’t collect the data about the determinants, they don’t know what the contributing factors are), medical schools and other training programs should be diverse as well, says Dr. Michelle Albert, president of the American Heart Association and admissions dean at the University of California, San Francisco.
“We need to double down on having a workforce that’s representative of the demographics of the community so they can understand the lived experiences of the population they’re treating,” says Albert. “That’s really important. Having that understanding will engender research, care and the clinical concordance [incorporating the wishes and beliefs of the patient] that’s needed to address equitable health care.”
In the same article in a section on “policy making,” Dr. Albert states that “Health and health equity are not zero-sum games. It’s not about taking from community A and giving to community B. Our challenge in the next few years is to do a better job of communicating that. A lot of awareness has been raised and that gives me optimism.”
As part of the special issue, the magazine’s “Straight Talk” pages shares experts’ thoughts on the future of medicine and health care. Here’s what Dr. Albert has to say about it.
“You can tell people to make healthy lifestyle choices, but one of the root causes of health inequities is economic adversity. We have to focus on this. Within the American Heart Association, we’re addressing economic adversity as a root driver of poor health, especially cardiovascular health.” — Dr. Michelle Albert, president of the American Heart Association
“The Future of Medicine” is Time magazine’s special issue focused on new technology, innovative trends and the incredible breakthroughs that will help people stay healthy in the future. The issue can be purchased online.