Wits team in Dakar

Professor Karen Sliwa, the director of the Soweto Cardiovascular Research Unit and a primary investigator for NIH (USA) Millennium, gave three invited lectures:

1. Contemporary epidemiology of the heart
2. Managing advanced cardiovascular disease in pregnancy at Groote Schuur Hospital
3. A general lecture on peripartum cardiomyopathy

The common thread in all her lectures was to increase awareness. This can be achieved through the HeduAfrica site, as well as through the use of registries to investigate standard treatment for disease.

Contemporary epidemiology was discussed, which highlights the fact that 1:15 000 women in the United States suffers from peripartum cardiomyopathy, while 1:1 000 women in South Africa suffers with the same disease – this emphasises the fact that certain diseases target the African continent more extensively than other developed areas.

Ogar OS et al, 2013, a PhD student at Wits, gave a presentation entitled, “A study of awareness of the warning against smoking, perception of tobacco use and tobacco control measures among residents of Abia State, [Nigeria]”. This study was aligned to global international efforts to control tobacco smoke through the use of health education and health awareness. The study revealed that a high level of awareness improved positive perceptions about the harmful effects of smoking, thereby initiating more robust policies, programmes and interventions for tobacco control.

Pretorius S et al, 2013, a PhD student at Wits, presented a talk entitled, “Do environmental factors, including sleeping patterns, have an effect on the prevalence of obesity in an urban African population?”. Urbanisation and nutrition in South Africa are paired with increased cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly obesity. Furthermore, there are other environmental factors that also affect obesity. The results of the study show there is a higher prevalence of obesity in women. The negative effect of smoking was demonstrated and should be a precaution that is taken after the cessation of smoking. A novel finding was that subjects who napped had a lower BMI.

Tibarazarwa K et al, 2013, a PhD student at Wits, presented a poster entitled, “Familial aggregation of dilated cardiomyopathy in patients with peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM)”. PPCM is a form of pregnancy-related heart failure associated with considerable mortality. The findings of the authors’ study support the notion that over a third of all women with PPCM have familial dilated cardiomyopathy.