“Medical students should get a systematic approach and learning of cardiovascular medicine, both theoretically and practically”
Over the past two decades, the University of Nicosia (UNIC)- located on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, has led the development of life and health sciences programmes regionally and continues to strive for excellence globally. The 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings, ranked UNIC as the 32nd university in the world in the core area of Quality Education. In International Outlook, UNIC has been ranked 47th globally by THE World University Rankings. Below is an interview with Dr Joseph Moutiris, a clinician and professor of Cardiology at UNIC Medical School.
Can you provide some background about your career and specialization to date?
I am currently working as Head of Cardiology Department of Paphos General Hospital in Cyprus which is a public hospital offering multidisciplinary services within the Cyprus General Healthcare System. I am also a Clinical Professor of Cardiology at the Medical School of the University of Nicosia.
I am specialized, apart from Clinical Cardiology, in all aspects of non-invasive and invasive cardiology, with main interests in prevention, coronary artery disease, heart failure, nuclear cardiology and cardiac pacing/ICD.
How is cardiology approached in early medical education versus through specialization?
Cardiology has advanced very much during the last few decades. Although cardiovascular prevention remains largely the same, with a variation in the cutting points between normal and abnormal, based on new evidence from large-scale studies, the introduction of new diagnostic modalities such as cardiac MRI, echocardiography and PET, and the development of new therapeutic options, such as primary percutaneous coronary interventions and transcutaneous aortic valve interventions, makes cardiology training very demanding.
During medical studies, students become familiar with prevention measures and are introduced at the same time to the diagnostic imaging and therapeutic interventions during their placements in cardiology departments. They have also the opportunity for hands-on experience especially in non-invasive cardiology.
Is division of patient care, training and research, important for cardiovascular innovation?
Medical students should get a systematic approach and learning of cardiovascular medicine, both theoretically and practically. This is achieved by providing appropriate clinical skills knowledge and clinical placements. Involvement in basic research and explanation of the methodology for clinical research, is also advised. This is very important for their future development especially for those who are going to train in cardiology.
How do you see cardiology changing in the future?
Cardiology has already changed a lot. I remember giving streptokinase for acute myocardial infarction, in the past, with a success rate exceeding slightly 60%. Today, we take the patient to the catheterization lab for primary PCI, with a success rate of almost 100%. In the future, diagnostic imaging will further improve as well as interventions, most of which will be either percutaneous or with minimally surgical procedures. Genetics seem to be part of the development with therapies addressing the generation of new myocardial tissue. New well-designed large-scale studies will bring new evidence in the prevention of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease and in the treatment of heart failure, addressing both the adrenergic nervous system and the cholinergic system but also the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. I believe that there is still much potential for research addressing the neurohormonal systems.
How are you and others, prepared to deliver specialized and well qualified cardiologists for the next generation?
Providing good and updated training in cardiology is a challenging task. The tutors need to fill the gap between traditional cardiology training and contemporary ones. They need, not only to follow up on the recent studies, but also to be actively involved in research and encourage trainees to be an active part of the research team. Medicine is progressively becoming evidence-based and the cardiology training should be designed in this way.
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