Dr. Robert Sanchez, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist at The Heart Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Director of Cardiovascular Medicine at Northside Hospital & Tampa Bay Heart Institute. Dr. Sanchez has been affi liated with the American Heart Association for more than 10 years. He’s been on the Greater Southeast Affi liate board for the past year, and on the Tampa Bay Metro Board of Directors for three years, most recently serving as the Board President. Additionally, Sanchez is board certifi ed by the American Board of Internal Medicine in both Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases; he is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology; and he is a member of the National Lipid Association, and the American Society of Echocardiography.

How long have you lived in the Tampa Bay area?

23 years

What is your favorite Tampa Bay restaurant?

That is a tough one. Tampa Bay has so many great restaurants. I have so many restaurants that I love, it is hard for me to just pick one.

Where is your favorite place in Tampa Bay to relax?

I like to relax at home with my family.

How important is it for physicians to be involved with their communities and how important is it to you personally?

I think it is extremely important for my colleagues and I to be involved in our local communities. Physicians are involved on a daily basis in the direct care of patients with cardiovascular diseases. We have a keen understanding of the healthcare issues involved and what needs to be done to overcome the challenges before us. Physicians can play a very important role at the community level in advocating for policies that improve health behaviors and health outcomes. This can be accomplished through policy change, improvement in health care systems and environmental changes.

High Blood pressure is considered the silent killer due to patients being unaware and not diagnosed. What are some of the current methods used for early detection and do you have any suggestions for primary care physicians that are on the healthcare front line?

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, especially stroke. The best method to detect high blood pressure is to have it monitored regularly. Blood pressure can be measured by a health care provider, at a pharmacy, or patients can purchase a blood pressure monitor and monitor it themselves at home. Primary care physicians are critical to the recognition and management of high blood pressure. Through adherence to treatment guidelines and aggressive management of the disease primary care physicians are instrumental in improving patient outcomes.

How have advances in technology impacted the field of cardiology? What advancement excites you the most?

Over the past 23 years I have seen many technological advances that have tremendously improved how we care for our patients. These have included coronary stents, defibrillators, ventricular assist devices, Trans-catheter valve replacement to name a few. I am particularly excited about the advances in genetics/genomics that will one day allow for personalized therapy based on one’s genetic profile. Not only will this genetic information allow for personalized therapies, this information will also allow for the identification of future risk factors that will then lead to genetically determined personalized prevention.

You are involved with the cardiac fellowship program. What kind of advice do you give to new physicians?

Physicians today face tremendous challenges from multiple sources. The doctor-patient relationship is being strained. These challenges unfortunately are creating a significant amount of job dissatisfaction amongst currently practicing physicians. As new physicians navigate these challenges it is important that they never forget why they chose medicine as a career in the first place. If they remain focused on the “why” they will be able to more successfully navigate through these difficult times. Our patients are counting on that.

Why is it necessary that we educate the community about heart disease and stroke, and the importance of prevention?

It is very simple, if we don’t effectively communicate to the community the importance of cardiovascular disease prevention as well as the importance of early detection and prompt treatment of heart disease and stroke, we will begin to see a reversal in the significant advances we have made over the past several decades. In fact we may see the next generation and future generations live shorter lifespans than the current.

The American Heart Association awarded the Tampa Bay Heart Institute at Northside Hospital the Get with the Guidelines™ Silver Award for Cardiac Care. How do you apply these guidelines with heart diseases like atrial fibrillation?

The AHA Get With The Guidelines supports our hospitals in a variety of ways. These guidelines allow us to access the most up-todate research and evidence based recommendations, professional education opportunities, clinical tools and resources, patient education resources, and performance feedback which will allow for continuous quality improvement.

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