'A First Step': ASNC Member's Visit to Local Church Raises Community's Awareness of Cardiac Amyloidosis

March is Cardiac Amyloidosis Month, and ASNC is highlighting creative ways members are raising awareness of this condition among people who may not have heard of it but could be at risk. 

From left: Saurabh Malhotra, MD, MPH, FASNC, Rosemary Coleman and Rev. Lawrence Jr. 

Let's start with Saurabh Malhotra, MD, MPH, FASNC, who recently spoke to a Chicago church congregation about cardiac amyloidosis. 
The Director of Advanced Cardiac Imaging at Cook County Health in Chicago, Dr. Malhotra has led ASNC's Think Amyloid and Refer Directly pilot programs, which are aimed at educating referring clinicians about cardiac amyloidosis. The pilot is based on the premise that clinicians are unaware of how prevalent the disease is in their communities, which clinical features are associated with amyloidosis and that there is a lack of pathways for connecting clinicians directly with an amyloid specialist.     

From One Patient to a Whole Community

The possibility of going directly to the public had occurred to Dr. Malhotra, but it was a conversation with a patient that made it happen.
Rosemary Coleman, who had recently been diagnosed with transthyretin cardiac amyloidosis, was concerned about relatives with cardiac symptoms as well as members of her church community. She connected Dr. Malhotra with her pastor, Reverend Lawrence Jr., who welcomed Dr. Malhotra to Praise Temple of Restoration a few weeks later. 
"I spoke extemporaneously – no slides – describing the symptoms and explaining that cardiac amyloidosis is a generational disease common in Black populations," Dr. Malhotra explained. "We handed out ASNC patient guides with my contact information so the attendees could look at it later and, if they have symptoms or a family member did, they would have a mechanism for reaching out to me. The goal is for them to be seen before they develop profound disease." 

'The Congregation Was Appreciative' 

Dr. Malhotra answered many questions after the service and has since spoken with Rev. Lawrence Jr. about speaking at other congregations. "The congregation was appreciative of someone coming to their home and talking with them about a disease that affects Black people," Dr. Malhotra says. "It was a first step, a small step, and all it requires is a continued commitment to reach out to our community in the county." 

Making at-risk communities aware of cardiac amyloidosis is key to the "aspirational thinking" that Dr. Malhotra has adopted. "I want us to think not just about diagnosis, but also about creating opportunities for prevention of disease progression," he says. "This will necessitate taking care to the at-risk populations instead of waiting for the patients to come to our hospitals." 
Are you taking creative action to raise awareness of cardiac amyloidosis in your patients' communities or with your referring colleagues? We would like to learn from you. 

Learn Strategies for Educating Referrers, Building Your Own Program
  • Would you like to learn strategies for educating referrers about cardiac amyloidosis?
  • Are you interested in tools that could help you launch or expand your own cardiac amyloidosis program? 
Dr. Malhotra will be speaking at this week's "Nuclear Cardiology NOW: Strategies for Optimization, Efficiency and Productivity." Attend this program to hear from, and brainstorm with, Dr. Malhotra and other cardiac amyloidosis experts. Plus, NC NOW attendees will have exclusive access to the NC NOW Toolkit, which includes cardiac amyloidosis tools, such as clinical posters for referring providers, the Think Amyloid Patient Guide and practice points; chest pain tools; as well as SPECT and PET imaging tools.