ACC Council Addresses Need For Geriatric Cardiology Subspecialty

A distinctive geriatric cardiology subspecialty is needed to respond to the complex and unique cardiovascular needs of aging patients, according to a Council Perspective published Sept. 7 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The recommendation of a more robust geriatric cardiology subspecialty is the result of ACC’s Geriatric Cardiology Member Section’s examination of the future of geriatric cardiology and the evolution of the subspecialty. Susan P. Bell, MD, et al., expect that “aging baby boomers will demand greater health care resources … [and] to fulfill that need, we see the mandate... to formalize geriatric cardiology as a manifestation of ‘patient-centered care’ for older adults.” According to the Council, elderly patients differ in their capacity and desire for medications, devices and procedures, and may show more concern for qualitative and functional objectives over morbidity or mortality.

The authors argue that geriatric cardiology is similar to other subspecialties, like surgery, which require specific training above and beyond intuition and a number of years of experience. While training for the subspecialty has yet to be defined, competencies would include “improved skills in diagnosis, risk management, disease management and the process of care.” Such training would equip providers upon completion with the skills needed to effectively care for older patients.

Bell, et al., highlight that subspecialty training in geriatric cardiology has the potential to combat the decreasing numbers of geriatricians, as cardiology fellowships typically have higher enrollment. They further emphasize that “all cardiovascular trainees would benefit from a core knowledge base and skillset” in geriatric cardiology. 

The authors conclude that their “mandate is to optimize care and [their] opportunity is to invigorate practice patterns with [new, specialized] training.”

Clinical Topics: Geriatric Cardiology

Keywords: Aged, Disease Management, Health Services Needs and Demand, Morbidity, Patient-Centered Care, Population Growth, Risk Management

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