5 Questions with Dipti Itchhaporia, MD
For this issue, Cardiology Today spoke with Editorial Board Member Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, FACC, FESC. Itchhaporia is the Eric & Sheila Samson Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Health and director of disease management for Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute, Hoag Memorial Hospital, Newport Beach, California, assistant clinical professor of medicine at University of California, Irvine, and vice president-elect of the American College of Cardiology.
Itchhaporia received her medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine and completed her internal medicine residency at Stanford University School of Medicine, which was followed by a staff appointment at Moffitt-Long Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco. After finishing a CV medicine fellowship at Georgetown University Medical Center, she completed an interventional cardiology fellowship at Stanford. Since then, she has served in a variety of positions at Hoag Memorial Hospital.
Itchhaporia has been extensively involved with the ACC, having served as its secretary, president of its California chapter, chair of its board of governors, chair of its journal club and a member of its board of trustees. She is an adviser to the ACC’s innovation program and co-chairs its Middle East Conference. Itchhaporia became vice president-elect of the ACC in July 2019. She has also served on the Western Affiliates Board of the American Heart Association and was past president of its Orange County, California chapter.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
Dr. Itchhaporia: There are many individuals who had an influence on my career, so it is hard to pick one. When I was a cardiology fellow at Georgetown, there were many attendings I interacted with that were very encouraging and provided great mentorship, including Manuel Cequeira, MD, Dan Diver, MD, William J. Oetgen, MD, MBA, FACC, FACP, and David L. Pearle, MD. They all were instrumental in me finding my love of cardiology. Then, Stephen N. Oesterle, MD, recruited me to Stanford for my interventional cardiology training. Subsequently, at my institution, Pravin Shah, MD, MACC, has been very encouraging and supportive. He encouraged the educator in me to start putting on a Cardiovascular Update course, a course that focuses on new developments in CV medicine. The course is now in its 11th year and also hosts the annual Fellows in Training Jeopardy contest, where the winning team represents the California chapter at the ACC Scientific Session for the national competition.
What area of research in cardiology interests you most right now?
Dr. Itchhaporia: I am interested in the digital transformation that hopefully will occur in medicine. I have been interested in the applications of artificial intelligence in cardiology. When I was a fellow, my very first paper was about artificial neural networks in cardiology. I have been involved with the innovation program at the ACC as an adviser. When John S. Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA, FESC, was named chief innovation officer of the ACC, he created an advisory group, which I have been a part of. John, Harlan Krumholz, MD, SM, FACC, and I recently co-chaired the first Institute of Computational Health Applied Artificial Intelligence Summit to discuss current challenges in the application of artificial intelligence to improve CV care and optimize health outcomes. The Institute for Computational Health (ICH) is a joint effort between the ACC and the Yale University Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation with a vision to accelerate the application of advanced computational techniques to health-related data sets with the goal of providing information to improve health care delivery and health outcomes.
And this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the ACC helped develop a Disruptive Health Care track at which I spoke. We expect to play a bigger role at CES next year. There is so much to learn and share with our tech colleagues. There are clinicians that fear digital transformation, they use the electronic health record as an example and note that this did not make their lives easier. But I believe that true digital transformation in medicine will enhance the delivery of care and improve the lives of ourselves and our patients. Given my interest in global health, I think that digital transformation is going to be the way we do capacity-building to help deliver CV care to more people.
What advice would you offer to a student in medical school?
Dr. Itchhaporia: Medical school is an incredible opportunity. I would encourage them to embrace all the opportunities to learn as much as they can, participate in clinical research, learn from various mentors as they go along and spend time really thinking about what they are doing and want to do in terms of medicine. I would encourage them to think big; We are taught the traditional ways of delivering care, but can they envision different ways of delivering care? I would say, appreciate the opportunity to become part of a revered profession. Find joy in mastering your work, always continue to learn and figure out along the way what your limitations are. And remember to keep the patient in the center, remember compassion for both the patient and yourself. And at the end of the day, have a lot of fun. It is a joyous time. A lot of people did not like medical school because it is a lot of work, but I was happy because I was doing what I wanted to do.
Everyone in medicine should also know that, especially in an era where burnout and clinician wellness are prominent topics, taking care of ourselves is imperative. I always say that physicians should see their own wellness as a professional obligation, just like continuing medical education and keeping up with the literature. Learning how to balance your personal and professional lives and give it your all in those different areas is crucial. The old saying is that you cannot have it all. But boy, you sure want to try.
What was the defining moment that led you to your field?
Dr. Itchhaporia: There were many points of inspiration. When I was a medical student, I did a coronary care unit rotation with my best friend. It was intense. The attending was Leslie Miller, MD. We were asked after the rotation what we were going to do, and were told we should consider cardiology. I remember telling Dr. Miller that I was doing a plastic surgery rotation. I will never forget what he said: “Oh, you go from saving lives to saving noses.” I remember thinking a lot about that. As intense as that experience was, it was quite inspiring and I knew that our care team had made a difference in those patients’ lives. When I was at the University of California, San Francisco, I was one of the attendings on the medical consult service. During that time, I had the opportunity to interact with the cardiology faculty including Paul G. Yock, MD, Rita Redberg, MD, MSc, FACC, and William Parmelee, MD. This time made me realize that general medicine was not what I needed to do; I needed to go into cardiology.
What’s up next for you?
Dr. Itchhaporia: I become vice president of the ACC at the end of the Scientific Session in March, and will be president starting in March 2021. I look forward to this opportunity and this honor to serve and impact our profession.
I live in Newport Beach, where Kobe Bryant was from. There were many newspaper articles after his death. One of them said that every day is a gift and tomorrow is not guaranteed. In a similar vein, there is a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown says, “We only live once,” but Snoopy says, “We only die once. We live every day.” I want to try to remember that and live every day to its fullest. – by Erik Swain