The ABC in China

Cardiology Review® Online, August 2007, Volume 24, Issue 8

The 150 cardiologists and doctors at Fuwai Hospital (Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College) who showed up for the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC)/Fuwai conference on "A Comparative Analysis of Cardiovascular Disease in China and the United States" probably showed up as much out of ethnic curiosity as for their medical and scientific interests. Most of them probably never saw a Black person and never met a Black cardiologist. Presentations by Drs Gerald DeVaughn, Keith Ferdinand, and Elizabeth Ofili from the ABC complemented presentations by our Chinese counterparts, Drs Gu Dongfeng, Hui Rutai, and Yang Yuejin. Given our expectations about "traditional Chinese medicine," we were surprised that cardiology in China resembled cardiology in the United States. They implanted pacemakers and stents, had the same diagnostic equipment available, and possessed the same medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol as in the United States. They followed the same clinical protocol for demonstrating efficacy and side effects of various treatments, many of them published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Hypertension, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Chinese herbs were nowhere to be found. Smoking was their major concern, as 50% to 60% of the population smokes, and although obesity prevalence is currently less than 15%, it is on the rise as the Chinese people have adopted western lifestyles. They were surprised to learn that so many people in the United States were obese. The Chinese cardiologists honored the ABC group by their graciousness and hospitality, their attendance at our joint meeting, as well as the attendance and engagement of all the top administrators at the hospital. The tour of the hospital was particularly enriching.

Dr Gerald DeVaughn, President of the ABC, commented that the 10-day visit to China was sensational, a perfect blend of science, cultural exchange, history, sightseeing, and fun. The 85 ABC representatives and their family members started their travels in Shanghai with tours of the city (old and new), taking in an awesome acrobatic show and attending lectures on Chinese investment and business climate. We visited the Shanghai museum, the Yuyuan Garden, and the Bund (the famous river walk).

We moved on to the splendor of the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, an awesome engineering feat. We boarded the good ship Viking and sailed for 4 days down the Yangtze River through the Wu and Qutang Gorges, and the visited the fabulous Snow Jade Cave and City of Ghosts. It was fascinating to see people putting every bit of land to use. For example, even the sides of the road were planted with corn and other vegetables. Our group emulated this approach with our available time, taking in 3 scientific sessions chaired by Drs Ferdinand and David Knox during the cruise.

We eventually arrived in Zian, where we spent a day viewing the incredible Terracotta Army. In previous generations, an Emperor took his army, family, and friends with him when he died to keep his company in the next life. In the 3rd century BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huang decided against killing so many people but made likenesses of them to be buried with him. We marveled at the thousands of soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots that were buried with this emperor more than 2000 years ago.

In Chongquin, we were entertained by a dozen pandas, strange looking koi, and other unusual animals at the Zoo, and viewed a large collection of Chinese art.

We eventually made it to Beijing, a city dating back more than 1000 years before Christ. The city includes many memorable sites, including Tiananmen Square, the world's largest public square (with the capacity to accommodate more than 1,000,000 people), the Forbidden City, and other elegant palaces, pavilions courtyards, and gardens. The climb on the Great Wall was a visual feast, and the elegant Sacred Way leading to the Ming Emperors' tomb featured stone elephants, lions, camels, and mythical beasts.

The shopping was great with incredible bargains but what really made the trip an awesome experience was the people. The ABC is proud to have the most friendly, supportive, funny, and insightful members of any organization. Our guides could not have been more entertaining, informative, and engaging. A good time was had by all—especially our youth.

Our next overseas adventure will be Ghana. At the invitation of the government and in cooperation with the Ghanaian Cardiologists (hosted by Prof Amoah) and the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (hosted by Prof Frimpong-Boateng) ABC members and guests will be visiting this nation from December 26, 2007-January 5, 2008. Please call Genesis Premier Travel (Nana Essendoh) at 410-774-4456 or

. We look forward to this adventure with the ABC family.

nanatrav@aol.com