Robert C. Hendel, MD: Cardiovascular Concerns in New Orleans

June 29, 2019

Why limited educational resources and a diverse population has made the region an area burdened by heart disease.

The burden of cardiovascular disease in New Orleans is among the most frequently used examples of regional health issues in the US. Though the layman may jokingly chalk it up to the sodium-rich foods that highlight tourist attraction, the local experts see it as a disparity of knowledge.

In an interview with MD Magazine®, Robert C. Hendel, MD, chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Tulane University, explained the basis of challenging heart disease rates in his hometown.

MD Mag: What challenges do you face in Louisiana-based health disparities?

Hendel: New Orleans is certainly a very unique environment. The population has a very rich culture, and a very diverse population overall. This raises a lot of concerns and questions regarding the delivery of care.

First of all, even standard cardiovascular disease such as hypertension is rampant here and very severe. So methods of delivery of care are also a challenge in this environment.

Overall, the population of New Orleans is rather indigent and sometimes access to care is a real problem. This is particularly concerning in patients not only with hypertension, but also with heart failure.

We can take care of them in the hospital, but then what happens afterwards? Are they compliant with their medications? Do they have access to provider education?

I think many of the residents of the New Orleans area just simply don't know about disease processes, especially related to the heart and vascular system. And they also don't know where to go.

So unfortunately, they seek emergency departments which often lack the continuity of care. I do think there's been a lot of new systems, of provisions of care, that have been provided recently. But overall, I think it can be greatly improved. We need to allow the residents of New Orleans to have continuous access and continuity with their providers.