Duke-UNC Project Wins 3rd Place in American Heart Association Heart Failure Data Challenge

Originally published from Duke Health

A team from Duke University School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine was awarded third place by the American Heart Association for a project addressing the elements of structural racism that lead to poor heart health.

The American Heart Association and the Association of Black Cardiologists hosted a six-month heart failure data challenge in which research groups tested the relationships between heart failure and health disparities, social determinants of health and structural determinants of health. The results were evaluated by a peer review group of nearly 30 experts in the field. 

“Congratulations to these researchers for their exceptional work in the heart failure data challenge,” said Michelle A. Albert, M.D., past president of the Association of Black Cardiologists and president-elect of the American Heart Association.

"Improving our understanding of how social determinants of health impact certain populations in order to develop consequential targeted solutions requires harmonization of different types of data,” Albert said. “These teams must be commended for their efforts at addressing health equity, one of the most pressing areas in healthcare.”

The Duke/UNC project was led by Vishal N. Rao, M.D., an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology fellow at Duke, Robert J. Mentz, M.D., section chief of heart failure in the Duke Division of Cardiology, and Melissa Caughey, Ph.D., a cardiovascular epidemiologist from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Collaborators included Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., who serves on the steering committee for the American Heart Association's Get with the Guidelines program and as interim chief of UCLA's Division of Cardiology and director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center;  Amanda Coniglio, M.D., former Duke cardiology chief fellow now on faculty at Rochester Regional Hospital; and Duke cardiology and DCRI faculty Adam DeVore, M.D., Marat Fudim, M.D., Michelle Kelsey, M.D., and Roland Matsouaka, M.D.

The project explored the association between socioeconomic status disadvantage and in-hospital heart failure outcomes in patients from diverse neighborhoods in the Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure registry.

This project was inspired by Duke University School of Medicine Division of Cardiology-led efforts to improve heart failure outcomes across central North Carolina. The work prompted the research collaboration between Duke and UNC to better understand how neighborhoods were associated with quality of care and in-hospital outcomes for patients with heart failure.

The project team used the Precision Medicine Platform to investigate key questions around socioeconomic disparities and heart failure outcomes. The Precision Medicine Platform is an easy-to-use research interface that allows researchers to collaborate from anywhere in the world in a secure, cloud-based environment.

With artificial intelligence and deep machine learning capabilities, the Precision Medicine Platform gives researchers the power and speed to bring their data together collaboratively and accelerate their findings into impactful discoveries for patients faster than ever before.

The team hopes to translate the results into local implementation efforts to characterize and mitigate gaps in care defined by socioeconomic groups or neighborhoods.

The research findings from all the winning studies are currently under consideration for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals and are not yet publicly available.

Read more about the data challenge here.