Sarka Kunzova FNUSA-ICRC staff photoMayo clinic logoMayo Clinic Photo 1Mayo Clinic Photo 2Mayo Clinic Photo 3

In the spring of 2018, Šárka Kunzová from the Kardiovize Brno 2030 research team spent 6 weeks at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. She spent the six weeks at the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases under the guidance of Professor Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, the collaborator and mentor of our Kardiovize team, and took part in a project studying the effects of nutrition on cardiovascular diseases.

What were you involved with during your internship at Mayo Clinic?
I started with researching literature dealing with the ways nutrition is assessed in terms of its effects on health, and the correlation between individual nutritional components and the risk of both cardiovascular diseases and chronic non-infectious diseases in general. Using the knowledge I acquired, a quick questionnaire was designed, with local particularities in mind and aimed at the US population, in order to assess the nutritional state of cardiovascular patients. Project preparation followed with the aim to validate the proposed screening tool by comparing it to the online frequency questionnaire that is used at Mayo Clinic and is considered to be the gold standard for nutrition assessment, despite this being rather time consuming for the patient.

How did the project progress from then on?
The project was presented to Mayo Clinic’s institutional ethics committee. Upon its approval, we started to recruit participants. Volunteers who entered the study filled in both online nutrition questionnaires, which were compared, and answered a few supplementary questions concerning socioeconomic and behavioural characteristics, such as smoking and physical activity. When we reached the target size of the group of subjects, i.e. 300 persons, we stopped recruiting new participants. Our colleagues at Mayo Clinic are currently processing the acquired data. We are planning a joint publication of the project results.

What was you experience at Mayo Clinic?
My study stay at Mayo Clinic was a very interesting and enriching experience. I met a lot of interesting and nice people, and had an opportunity to experience a clinical environment to some extent. I liked the very tight connection between the treatment of diseases and preventive care for the patient. Patients who had suffered a heart attack can use the facilities at the Division of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, and may, for instance, join a series of strength exercise classes with a qualified trainer, consult a nutritional therapist, get advice on how to stop smoking or how to reduce psychosocial stress. This approach builds the patients’ belief that it is they who can greatly affect their own health. The most essential part is that they are shown how to do this in practice.

Professor Francisco Lopez-Jimenez on Šárka Kunzová´s study stay at Mayo Clinic: ‘Šárka Kunzová spent a few weeks at Mayo Clinic and did a solid job here. She was very friendly, smart and loved to work with others. Everyone was amazed at and pleased with how hard-working she was. We were very happy with her performance, and I think that the internship was very beneficial for both parties.’

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