Revving up Research for Prevention

This story appears in the Winter 2016 issue of the Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. donor newsletter.

“We may think genetics control our fate when it comes to heart disease, but prevention is so important,” says Mark Rosenzweig, a longtime supporter of the Heart & Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Jorge Plutzky, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology at BWH, has been Rosenzweig’s physician for the past decade. “Dr. Plutzky makes it clear it’s not just chance,” Rosenzweig says. “Even modest lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.”

Plutzky’s renowned biomedical research has deepened the world’s understanding of how metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes cause dramatic increases in heart attacks and strokes. This has important implications for an increasing number of patients who, without early intervention, will develop metabolic-related heart conditions at younger ages.

“We must be aware of the association between diabetes and heart disease, and how the same lifestyle modifications may prevent both,” says Plutzky. “Prevention is often the place where clinical medicine meets leading-edge science.”

Rosenzweig credits his former neighbor, the late Lawrence H. Cohn, MD, one of BWH’s pioneering cardiac surgeons and researchers, for introducing him to Plutzky and advocating for the importance of research funding.

“Our conversations helped me see the urgency of strengthening research,” Rosenzweig says.

He first began providing regular seed funding for Plutzky’s research and education efforts through Shark/Ninja, the appliance company he leads. In the past several years, Rosenzweig has seen the company surge in popularity and value. Recently, Shark/Ninja pledged $350,000—its largest contribution to date—to help Plutzky and his team through a critical funding shortage for their prevention studies. Rosenzweig’s connection to the research intensified further when he discovered he had atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that can lead to stroke if left unchecked.

“I had lots of concerns when I found out, but I received amazing care at the Brigham and was fortunate to have Dr. Plutzky on my care team, as well as Dr. Morris and Dr. Stevenson,” he says.

Thrilled that Shark/Ninja can help Plutzky make a difference for others, Rosenzweig adds, “It’s wonderful to support a doctor who strikes the perfect balance with his research and work with patients.”