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More than 300 employees in the medical field will be congregating this weekend for NCH’s third annual Naples Cardio Summit. The two-day event March 1-2 is targeted toward primary care physicians, nurses and first responders and is an opportunity for those in the world of cardiovascular medicine to showcase some of the contemporary practices, new developments and updated technologies in cardiology done both locally and across the country.  

Dr. Robert Cubeddu, president of the NCH Rooney Heart Institute, is one of the course directors for the event. He said that this is a unique opportunity to learn about new developments and provides important information for medical workers to learn about what’s being offered to patients who need cardiovascular care.  

Over the two days, there will be six different sessions discussed, with topics including coronary artery disease, cardiac prevention and treatment and management of women’s heart disease. Each section will be made up of various 15-minute talks, with opportunity for the audience to have a question-and-answer discussion at the end of each session.  

Viviana Navas, section head of heart failure at NCH, will be a co-director at the summit and is looking forward to sharing news in her field, such as efforts to fix tricuspid valve regurgitation. The tricuspid valve is a flap between the two right heart chambers and closes when blood flows into the right ventricle of the heart. NCH is in 35 total clinical trials, 3 of which are trials to fix when the tricuspid valve regurgitates the flow of blood due to not closing properly.  

“Tricuspid valve is one of those that operating on patients with that type of disease is very high risk, the mortality is very high,” Navas said. “Now, we’re part of clinical trials where we can fix the tricuspid regurgitation via catheters percutaneously.”  

Relating to Cubeddu’s field, interventional and structural cardiology, attendees will be learning about new advances such as being able to repair heart valves through minimally invasive catheter techniques, avoiding the need for open heart surgery. Cubeddu said that NCH was the first in the region to perform a transcatheter tricuspid and mitral valve replacement without the need of open-heart surgery.  

Pulse ablation is another newer technique, which uses electrical pulses through minimally invasive surgery to disable parts of heart tissue that can cause irregular heart rhythm.  

“It’s a very quick, safe technique to eliminate and avoid atrial fibrillation, which for many patients represents a unique opportunity,” Cubeddu said.  

Each year, NCH partners with another hospital organization to co-direct the cardio summit—this year, AlinaHealth Minneapolis Heart Institute will be partnering in the event. Previous partnerships include The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati and Northwestern Medicine.  

“These are all really top programs across the country that we partner and collaborate with,” Cubeddu said. “It strengthens our relationships as clinicians and enables us to really share on stage some of the exciting work that we’re mutually doing in different corners of the country.”  

Cubeddu said that the idea to partner with AlinaHealth was attributed to the support of Best Buy founder Richard Schulze, whose foundation last May donated $20 million to the organization’s future five-story cardiovascular center. NCH will be naming the building the R.M. Schulze Family Cardiovascular and Stroke Critical Care Center.  

“[Partnering] also gives us an opportunity to share experiences and meet the leading physicians in those areas from other places, so I think that’s one of the reasons this has been so successful,” Navas said. “The quality and the name of the speakers that we’re bringing to give these lectures are just phenomenal.” 

The attendees, who will be receiving 13 credits for continuing medical education, are not the only beneficiaries from the event—the cardiovascular team at NCH sees this as ultimately a way to serve the community.  

“And at the end of the day, the primary care [physicians] and cardiologists benefit, but the final point is going to be the patients,” Navas said. “The patients have been driving three hours to go to different centers to get management for cardiovascular diseases and flying up to Boston, or Cleveland or Minneapolis, to get the procedures done. That’s not necessary anymore, and people need to know the type of care that we’re giving patients now, so they don’t have to leave their home.”  

As the leader in cardiology at NCH, Cubeddu is looking forward to what’s ahead as NCH continues to evolve and improve what it can offer for the Southwest Florida community.  

“We are destined to become one of the top programs in America,” Cubeddu said. “We are excited of the journey that we’re on and the path that we’re on, and I think it’s good for a community to appreciate and acknowledge some of the great efforts that are being done locally.” 

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