Rheumatic Heart Disease in the Dominican
The University of Virgina Cardiovascular Fellowship program, in
collaboration with Cedimat Hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican
Republic, provides free treatment for mitral stenosis to hundreds
of people a year who would otherwise not receive medical
attention. UVa faculty (a noninvasive and an interventional
cardiologist) and fellows (both noninvasive and
interventional) work with cardiology teams in several
field clinics to screen clients and provide life-saving therapy.
Despite a decreasing incidence in the United States, rheumatic heart
disease remains a major cause of morbidity and premature death and
imposes a substantial burden on health care systems in poor and
developing nations. Rheumatic mitral stenosis presents at a much
younger age, frequently in the late teen and young adult years.
Symptoms may begin with an episode of atrial fibrillation or may be
triggered by pregnancy or other stress on the body such as infection or
other cardiac disorders. Mitral valvuloplasty is a minimally
invasive therapeutic procedure that dilates the valve using a
balloon. Skills used to treat those living in poverty in the Dominican
Republic are transferrable to non-rheumatic mitral stenosis
in later practice.
The program provides transportation, lodging, and an unusually
satisfying educational opportunity for participating fellows. You agree
to provide charity care for rheumatic heart disease in the future to
other impoverished populations and to repay the program's investment of
$2500 within 5 years of graduation (< 1% of an average U.S.
cardiologist's earnings) to the UVa-Cedimat Charity (503b charity
status; tax deductible).