By Kristen Cruz….
University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine neurology chair Ralph L. Sacco, MD, MS, is the new national president of the American Heart Association for its 2010-11 fiscal year, which began July 1.
As president, Dr. Sacco is chief volunteer scientific and medical officer, responsible for medical, scientific and public health matters. He became the first neurologist to hold the position when he was inducted into office during a ceremony in Dallas on June 22.
“Clearly, one of my goals as president and as a neurologist is to broaden the organization’s focus on stroke, especially through the American Stroke Association, a vital part of the AHA,” Dr. Sacco said. “We’ll also continue to broaden our mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
“With our nation’s constantly changing demographics, we not only want to reach out to all population groups through our programs, but also get more people from diverse backgrounds involved in our mission as volunteers.”
In addition to serving as neurology chair at the medical school, Dr. Sacco is the Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Diseases; Miller Professor of Neurology, Epidemiology and Human Genetics, and chief of the neurology service at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Sacco has been an American Heart Association volunteer for more than 25 years, beginning when he was a student at Boston University Medical School, after the association awarded him a medical student scholarship. He later served as president of the New York City regional board while on the faculty at Columbia University.
In 2007, he received the association’s Chairman’s Award for his pioneering role in Power To End Stroke, an initiative to heighten awareness of stroke risk among African Americans. He also is past chair of the association’s Stroke Advisory Committee (2005–08) and was lead author of the 2006 publication, Guidelines for Prevention of Stroke in Patients with Ischemic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack. He currently is a member of the organization’s Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee and Stroke Council Leadership Committee.
“This is an exciting time to be involved with the American Heart Association,” Dr. Sacco said. “We are taking a bold approach to preventing cardiovascular diseases through our new initiatives and strategic plan for the coming decade. Our 2020 goal is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, as well as continue to reduce death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.
“Most of my professional life has been focused on preventing these illnesses, so I am really excited to be playing a leading role as the AHA takes on this ambitious goal.”
Debra W. Lockwood, CPA, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Provident Resources Group in Baton Rouge, LA, will serve as the chair of the American Heart Association for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
To learn more about the American Heart Association, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit online at www.heart.org.