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Heart Failure Society of America
Published: 13 September 2019

The Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), a professional society of clinicians, researchers, and patients focused on reducing the burden of heart failure, has announced that basketball great Shaquille O'Neal will be a keynote speaker at the 23rd HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting.

The 23rd HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting takes place September 13-16, 2019 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. O'Neal will speak during a session on Monday, September 16, 2019 at 3:00 PM.

O'Neal brings a unique perspective to the meeting's educational program, which offers the latest science and research in heart failure, following the recent launch of his campaign, Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure. In March 2019, O'Neal partnered with Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a U.S.-based specialty pharmaceutical company, to create a national initiative designed to raise awareness around the heart failure disparity in the African American community.

"We're honored to have Shaquille O'Neal join us in our mission to reduce the burden of heart failure and bring awareness of the condition to diverse populations," said Randall Starling, MD, MPH, FHFSA, President of the Heart Failure Society of America.  "Shaq is a star on the court and in the broadcast studio, and he is using that star to shine a light on this critical issue."

Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart's muscle gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. The heart can either become weak and unable to pump blood (systolic heart failure) or become stiff and unable to fill with blood adequately (diastolic heart failure). Ultimately, both conditions lead to retention of extra fluid or congestion.

Although O'Neal does not have heart failure himself, he recognized the need for greater awareness about heart failure throughout the African American community. Research suggests that African Americans may be up to 20 times more likely than white Americans to develop heart failure before the age of 50.1 African Americans are hospitalized for heart failure more often than whites.3,4 

"Since the African American community faces a higher risk of HF, I feel like it is my mission to try to help my community better understand and manage the condition," said O'Neal.

The session at the 23rd HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting is entitled, HF Awareness in African Americans will feature an introduction on disparities in African Americans, delivered by Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC, (Professor of Medicine [Cardiology], Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at Morehouse School of Medicine and first female president of the Association of Black Cardiologists).

O'Neal will then Get Real About HF in a conversation with Randall Starling, MD, MPH, FHFSA (Professor of Medicine, Kaufman Center for Heart Failure, Cleveland Clinic, Medical Director Heart Transplant Program and Mechanical Circ Support and President of HFSA), Dennis McNamara, MD, MS (Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Heart Failure/Transplantation Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), and Todd Brown (Director of Marketing, Cardiovascular Franchise at Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC.).

The 23rd HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting is anticipated to draw approximately 3,000 physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, scientists, and health care professionals who specialize or have an interest in heart failure. For more information about the HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, visit meeting.hfsa.org.

For more information about Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure, visit www.ShaqGetsReal.com.


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