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U.S. Faces Shortage of Heart Surgeons
Date:9/10/2009

Too many aging Americans, too few new doctors spell trouble, experts say

THURSDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The United States faces a dire shortage of cardiologists in the coming years, a shortage made even more critical given the increasing demands of a population rapidly growing older and heavier.

The shortfall could reach 16,000 cardiologists by 2050, according to a new report from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). As of right now, there are already 3,000 too few cardiologists in this country, the report finds.

"We have a gap now, and it's a tremendous gap, and our feeling is that it's going to be getting worse as we have the baby boomers cresting at age 65," report author Dr. George Rodgers, chairman of the ACC's Board of Trustees Workforce Task Force, said during a Thursday teleconference. "Our guess is that the deficit in cardiologists is going to probably widen, and even double, by the time we get to 2030 or 2050."

That means that in order to keep up with demand, the United States will need to have twice as many cardiologists in 2050 as it had in 2000.

"In order to care for increasing numbers of patients who are managing their multiple chronic conditions, we will of course need additional highly skilled people," said Dr. Janet Wright, the ACC's vice president for science and quality.

Yet the forces working against this are formidable, including a dwindling number of training spots available for budding cardiologists.

The report appears in the Sept. 22 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Heart disease is the top killer of both men and women in the United States.

According to the American Heart Association, at least 80 million people in the United States had at least one type of cardiovascular disease in 2006, including a history of acute heart attack (almost 8 million individuals), stroke (6.5 million people) and hea
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