Author Interviews, Duke, Heart Disease, JACC, Kidney Disease / 08.12.2015 Interview with: Daniel Friedman, MD Cardiology Fellow Duke University Hospital Durham, North Carolina MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Friedman: Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) has been demonstrated to reduce heart failure hospitalizations, heart failure symptoms, and mortality in randomized clinical trials. However, these well-known trials either formally excluded or did not report enrollment of patients with more advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), which we defined as a glomerular filtration rate of <45ml/minute. Since advanced CKD has been associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes among patients with a variety of pacemakers and defibrillators, many have questioned whether the risks of CRT may outweigh the benefits in this population. Furthermore, many have hypothesized that the competing causes of morbidity and mortality among advanced CKD patients who meet criteria for CRT may mitigate clinical response and net benefit. Our study assessed the comparative effectiveness of CRT with defibrillator (CRT-D) versus defibrillator alone in CRT eligible patients with a glomerular filtration rate of <60ml/minute (Stage III-V CKD, including those on dialysis). We demonstrated that CRT-D use was associated with a significant reduction in heart failure hospitalization or death in the overall population and across the spectrum of CKD. The lower rates of heart failure hospitalization or death was apparent in all subgroups we tested except for those without a left bundle branch block. Importantly, we also demonstrated that complication rates did not increase with increasing severity of CKD. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Kidney Disease / 05.12.2015 Interview with: Girish N. Nadkarni, MD, MPH Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, New York What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Nadkarni: Cardiovascular disease is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with kidney disease. Moreover, there is a lack of good quality evidence in kidney disease patients. In addition, previous studies have shown that cardiovascular trials exclude patients with kidney disease. We wanted to analyze all of the clinical trials on acute myocardial infarctions and heart failure in the last decade and see if they continued excluding patients with kidney disease. We discovered that in 371 trials including close to six hundred thousand patients, the majority (57%) excluded patients with kidney disease. A large proportion of the trials excluded patients for non-specific reasons, rather than a prespecified threshold of kidney function and did not report kidney function at baseline. Finally, in trials that did include kidney patients and reported outcomes by kidney function, only 13% showed an interaction or suggestion of harm. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cleveland Clinic, Heart Disease / 05.12.2015 Interview with: Sadeer G Al-Kindi, MD Fellow, Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute Onco-Cardiology Program, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Center, Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute, University Hospitals Case Medical Center Cleveland, OH Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Al-Kindi: Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the most common causes of death in the United States. They often have the same risk factors (for example, smoking, advancing age, obesity). Many cancers are treated with drugs that can have detrimental effect on the heart thus limiting their use. Some studies have suggested that cardiovascular diseases can worsen outcomes in patients with cancer. The emergence of onco-cardiology programs led to multidisciplinary care of patients with cancer and heart disease. Given this tight relationship between cancers and cardiovascular disease, we hypothesized that heart disease and its risk factors are very common in patients diagnosed with cancer. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Al-Kindi: Using a very large clinical database of 1/8th of the US population, we identified patients with most common cancers that are treated with cardiotoxic medications and identified the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases. Overall, prevalence was 33% for hematologic malignancies (leukemia and lymphoma), 43% for lung cancers, 17% for breast cancers, 26% for colon cancers, 35% for renal cancers, and 26% for head and neck cancers. Peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular diseases were the most common, followed by heart failure, and carotid artery disease. Despite the high prevalence, only about a half of these patients were on the cardiovascular medicines and half were referred to cardiologists. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Heart Disease, Neurological Disorders, NIH, Science / 05.12.2015 Interview with: Jonathan Kaltman, MD Chief, Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch Division of Cardiovascular Sciences National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Kaltman:  Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect but the cause for most defects is unknown.  Surgery and clinical care of patients with congenital heart disease has improved survival but now we are learning that many patients have neurodevelopmental abnormalities, including learning disability and attention/behavioral issues. Medical Research:  What are the main findings?
  • Using exome sequencing we found that patients with  congenital heart disease have a substantial number of de novo mutations.  This finding is especially strong in patients with CHD and another structural birth defect and/or neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
  • Many of the genes identified are known to be expressed in both the heart and the brain, suggesting a single mutation may contribute to both congenital heart disease and neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Heart Disease / 29.11.2015 Interview with: Lori Daniels, MD, MAS, FACC Professor of Medicine Director, Coronary Care Unit UCSD Division of Cardiology Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center La Jolla, CA  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Daniels: A large number of individuals who are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) may not be identified as “at risk” by traditional screening methods. Blood-based biomarkers provide a possible way, in conjunction with traditional risk factor screening, to assess risk in individuals. Two such biomarkers which are gaining widespread attention are NT-proBNP and cardiac troponin T (TnT). NT-proBNP is secreted by cardiac muscle cells in response to stretch, while TnT is consider a marker of cardiac cellular damage. Previous studies have shown that each of these markers is associated with long-term risk of cardiovascular outcomes in the general population. Race and ethnicity have been shown to affect the levels of these markers, and whether these markers are equally predictive of future cardiovascular risk in various ethnic groups has not been well studied. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) is an NIH-funded, multicenter, prospective, population-based study of white, black, Hispanic, and Chinese individuals without clinical CVD at baseline. Participants had blood drawn at a baseline study visit in 2000-2002, and again several years later, in 2004-2005. They have been followed for the development of CVD since then. The purpose of this study was to learn whether NT-proBNP (single and serial measures) and TnT are predictive of incident cardiovascular disease in a diverse cohort of 5592 participants from the MESA. We also wanted to learn whether the addition of these biomarkers to established CVD risk prediction scores, including the 2013 American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) Pooled Cohort Risk Equation and the Framingham Risk Score, could improve performance of the risk score. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, UT Southwestern / 25.11.2015

Ambarish Interview with: Ambarish Pandey M.D. Division of Cardiology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Pandey: Pulmonary artery (PA) catheters have been used for invasive bedside hemodynamic monitoring for past four decades. The ESCAPE trial, published in October 2005, demonstrated that use of  Pulmonary Artery catheter was not associated with a significant improvement in clinical outcomes of patients with heart failure. Accordingly, the current ACC/AHA guidelines discourage the routine use of PA catheter for routine management of acute heart failure in absence of cardiogenic shock or respiratory failure (Class III). Despite the significant evolution of available evidence base and guideline recommendations regarding use of  Pulmonary Artery catheters, national patterns of PA catheter utilization in hospitalized heart failure patients remain unknown. In this study, we observed that use of PA catheter among patients with heart failure decline significantly in the Pre-ESCAPE era (2001 – 2006) followed by a consistent increase in its use in the Post-ESCAPE era (2007-2012). We also observed that the increase in use of  Pulmonary Artery catheters is most significant among heart failure patients without underlying cardiogenic shock or respiratory failure. (more…)
AHRQ, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 24.11.2015 Interview with: Kamila B. Mistry, PhD MPH Senior Advisor, Child Health and Quality Improvement Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality US Department of Health and Human Services Rockville, MD 20857  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mistry: This study, conducted by researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), was seeking to explore what impact the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have on the nation’s well-documented racial/ethnic disparities in insurance coverage, access to medical care, and preventive services utilization. We used pre-ACA (2005-2010) household data from AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine patterns of coverage, access, and utilization, by race/ethnicity, for nonelderly adults who are targeted by ACA coverage expansion provisions.

Our analysis found that racial/ethnic minorities were disproportionately represented among groups targeted by the ACA. We also found that targeted groups had lower rates of coverage, access, and preventive services utilization, and some racial/ethnic disparities were widest within these groups.

Annals Thoracic Surgery, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology / 24.11.2015 Interview with: Neeraj Shah, MD, MPH Cardiology Fellow Department of Cardiology Lehigh Valley Health Network Allentown, PA. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shah:  Congestive heart failure (CHF) affects 5.8 million Americans, with prevalence as high as 10% in individuals aged 65 years or more. There are long wait times for heart transplants. Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have been shown to significantly improve outcomes in end stage CHF patients. In the current situation of limited donor hearts, the utilization of LVAD technology is likely to increase over time. Moreover, the LVAD technology has improved considerably over time. The first generation devices were bulky and pulsatile in nature and of limited durability, whereas the second and third generation devices are smaller, longer lasting and exhibit “continuous flow”. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved continuous flow devices in 2008. Presently, continuous flow devices account for over 95% of LVAD implants. Our aim was to examine the trends in utilization, in-hospital mortality, procedure related complications and cost of care after LVAD implantation from 2005 to 2011, and to study any differences in the pulsatile flow era from 2005-2007, compared to continuous flow era from 2008-2011. We used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), which the largest all-payer US national hospitalization database, for our study. We identified LVAD implants using International Classification of Disease, 9th edition (ICD-9) procedure code 37.66. NIS data showed that there were 2,038 LVAD implantations from 2005 to 2011. LVAD utilization increased from 127 procedures in 2005 to 506 procedures in 2011, with a sharp increase after the year 2008 (from 149 procedures in 2007 to 257 procedures in 2008). In-hospital mortality associated with LVAD implantation decreased considerably from 47.2% in 2005 to 12.7% in 2011 (p<0.001), with a sharp decline in mortality after the year 2008 (from 38.9% in 2007 to 19.5% in 2008). Average length of stay (LOS) decreased from 44 days in the pulsatile-flow era to 36 days in the continuous-flow era. Cost of hospitalization increased from $194,380 in 2005 to $234,808 in 2011 but remained steady from 2008 to 2011. There was a trend of increased incidence of major bleeding and thromboembolism and decreased incidence of infectious and iatrogenic cardiac complications in the continuous-flow era. Thus, there has been a considerable increase in utilization of LVADs and decline in in-hospital mortality and LOS after LVAD implantation. These changes strongly coincide with US FDA approval of continuous flow devices in 2008. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, JAMA, Stroke / 23.11.2015 Interview with: Bob Siegerink PhD Frits R. Rosendaal MD, PhD Department of Clinical Epidemiology Leiden University Medical Center Leiden, the Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The rates of death due to arterial thrombosis have been declining in the past years, which means that there are more patients with a high burden of disease. Arterial thrombosis is a uncommon disease in the young, but the burden of the disease might have a profound impact on their lives. We analyzed data form the RATIO study, in which we followed women with a ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction for up to 20 years. During this time, overall mortality was 2-4 times higher compared to the general population. This increase in risk was mainly driven by deaths from acute vascular events and persisted over the whole course of the follow up. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, Surgical Research / 23.11.2015 Interview with: Chunsheng Wang, MD Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Shanghai Cardiovascular Institution and Zhongshan Hospital Fudan University, Shanghai, China Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wang: Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has been widely used in high-risk patients for surgical aortic valve replacement. However, the majority of the TAVR devices were designed for aortic valve stenosis with significant valve calcification. For most of these devices, predominant aortic regurgitation remained to be a technological challenge because of questionable anchoring, which can result in a high incidence of valve migration and paravalvular leak. Consequently, the guidelines from the United States and the Europe suggest that candidates with predominant aortic regurgitation (>grade 3+) or noncalcified valve should not undergo TAVR. Patients with predominant aortic regurgitation who are at prohibitive risk for surgery need an alternative treatment. A new generation of transcatheter aortic valve devices with secure anchoring is needed. Six patients with native aortic regurgitation without significant valve calcification (age, 61 to 83 years; mean age, 75.50±8.14 years) underwent transapical implantation of the J-Valve prosthesis (JieCheng Medical Technology Co.,Ltd., Suzhou, China), a self-expandable porcine valve. Implantations were successful in all patients. During the follow-up period (from 31 days to 186 days, mean follow-up was 110.00±77.944 days), only 1 patient had trivial prosthetic valve regurgitation, and none of these patients had paravalvular leak of more than mild grade. There were no major postoperative complications or mortality during the follow-up. Our study demonstrated the feasibility of transapical implantation of the J-Valve system in high-risk patients with predominant aortic regurgitation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lipids / 20.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. Héctor González-Pacheco MD Coronary Care Unit, National Institute of Cardiology Mexico City, Mexico Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. González-Pacheco: Epidemiological studies have provided robust evidence for an inverse correlation between plasma levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and cardiovascular risk. At hospital admission, a high percentage of patients with an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) have low HDL-C levels. Currently, the association of very low levels of HDL-C with early mortality in patients with ACS is still a topic of considerable interest. However, the possible mechanisms are not clear. Since an acute coronary syndrome induces an inflammatory response, and several chronic systemic diseases and acute critical illnesses with clear pro-inflammatory components have been associated with significantly reduced HDL-C levels, and investigators have shown an inverse correlation between HDL-C levels and the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, we hypothesized that reduced HDL-C levels in acute coronary syndrome might be associated to inflammatory mediators. We therefore sought to evaluate the correlation between HDL-C levels and biomarkers of inflammation available in routine laboratory screenings (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), white blood cell (WBC) count, and serum albumin) in a retrospective cross-sectional study of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) or non-ST-elevation ACS (NSTE-ACS). Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. González-Pacheco: We found that approximately one-fifth of patients had very low HDL-C levels (<30 mg/dL). Baseline levels of hs-CRP were significantly higher in these patients than in those with low (30–39.9 mg/dL) and normal (≥40 mg/dL) HDL-C levels. In contrast, serum albumin values were lower in patients with very low HDL-C levels. WBC count did not differ significantly. Accordingly, hs-CRP levels ≥ 10 mg/L and serum albumin levels ≤ 3.5 mg/dL, were two strong independent predictors of very low HDL-C levels. We observed that patients with STEMI had higher expression of biomarkers of inflammation and lower levels of HDL-C, compared with NSTE-ACS patients, as well as a lack of significant difference in the extent of coronary disease among the categories of HDL-C levels. These findings suggest that the fall in HDL-C levels is in accordance with the severity of the inflammatory response and the extent of the myocardial damage. Our findings are consistent with previous studies, in which patients with very low HDL levels had a higher rate of in-hospital mortality compared with those of other HDL-C levels. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Duke, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, Social Issues / 18.11.2015 Interview with: Lauren Cooper, MD Fellow in Cardiovascular Diseases Duke University Medical Center Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cooper: The HF-ACTION study, published in 2009, showed that exercise training is associated with reduced risk of death or hospitalization, and is a safe and effective therapy for patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction. Subsequently, Medicare began to cover cardiac rehabilitation for patients with heart failure. However, many patients referred to an exercise training program are not fully adherent to the program. Our study looked at psychosocial reasons that may impact participation in an exercise program. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Cooper: We found that patients with higher levels of social support and fewer barriers to exercise exercised more than patients with lower levels of social support and more barriers to exercise. And patients who exercised less had a higher risk of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization compared to patients who exercised more. (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, Heart Disease, JACC, Transplantation / 14.11.2015 Interview with: Raymond Givens MD PhD  Columbia University Medical Center  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Givens: Multiple listing- i.e., simultaneous placement on multiple organ transplant waiting lists- is allowed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Because insurance generally does not pay for the costs of transportation between multiple centers or of temporary housing, there has been concern that the multiple-listing policy gives an unfair advantage to wealthier patients. We examined the UNOS database from 2000-2013 and identified 33,928 patients who were listed for a first-time single-organ heart transplant, 2% of whom met our definition of multiple-listing. Compared to single-listed patients, multiple-listed patients lived in ZIP codes with significantly higher median incomes, and were more likely to have private insurance and less likely to be supported by Medicaid. They were also significantly more likely to have blood type O and to live in areas with higher predicted waiting times. Despite having lower listing priority at the start of the primary listing and lower predicted mortality, the multiple-listed patients were often upgraded at secondary listing and had a higher eventual transplant rate (74.4% vs 70.2%) and lower mortality rate while listed (8.1% vs 12.2%). When the multiple-listed cohort was compared against a propensity-score-matched single-listed subset the relative rare of transplant was 3.02. There were no differences in post-transplant survival. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 14.11.2015 Interview with: Susan Marzolini, R.Kin, PhD Scientific Associate, TRI-REPS Supervisor Toronto Rehab/UHN Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Marzolini: Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a leading revascularization procedure for treating coronary artery disease. Despite effective revascularization, cardiovascular risk factor control through intensive lifestyle and pharmacological treatment is essential to prevent graft deterioration and progression of atherosclerosis following surgery. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs offer structured exercise, education, interdisciplinary support, counselling, and risk reduction to promote secondary prevention. These programs have been shown to improve fitness, psychosocial well-being, and significantly reduce morbidity and mortality after CABG surgery. However, while Canadian and international guidelines endorse “early” referral to CR post-cardiac event, actual practice is variable and delays are common_ENREF_9_ENREF_9_ENREF_7. Delayed entry is of concern, as there is emerging evidence that later referral and initiation of cardiac rehabilitation is associated with negative consequences on cardiovascular fitness, however this has not been examined in the post-CABG population. Therefore, we conducted a retrospective analysis of 6497 consecutively enrolled post CABG participants in a single cardiac rehabilitation program in Toronto, Canada from January 1995 to October 2012. Our objective was to examine the effects of later entry on CR outcomes (i.e., CR use, anthropometrics, and functional capacity) while accounting for demographic, environmental, and physiological correlates of longer wait-time. We found that longer wait-time to start a cardiac rehabilitation program was associated with poorer outcomes including less improvement in cardiopulmonary fitness and lower program attendance, which have been shown to confer a mortality disadvantage. Longer wait time was also associated with less improvement in body fat percentage as well as poorer completion rates. We identified that bypass patients predisposed to longer wait times, and subsequently poorer participation and outcomes, are women, those who are older, from a lower socioeconomic neighborhood, people with a more complex medical history, who are employed, have a longer drive-time to cardiac rehabilitation, and people with less social support. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lipids, Stanford / 13.11.2015 Interview with: Liana Del Gobbo PhD Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA; and Life Sciences Research Organization, Bethesda, MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Del Gobbo: Accumulating evidence suggests that nut intake lowers risk of cardiovascular disease. But the specific mechanisms by which nuts may exert beneficial effects (eg. through lowering blood cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, etc.) were not clear. Two prior reviews on this topic only evaluated one type of nuts, and only a few cardiovascular risk factors. To address these knowledge gaps, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials to examine the effects of eating tree nuts (walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts) on major cardiovascular risk factors including blood lipids (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides [TG]), lipoproteins (ApoA1, ApoB, ApoB100), blood pressure (systolic, SBP; diastolic, DBP), and inflammation (C-reactive protein, CRP) in adults 18 years or older without cardiovascular disease. A daily serving of nuts (1oz serving, or 28g per day) significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL, ApoB, and triglycerides, with no significant effects on other risk factors, such as HDL cholesterol, blood pressure or inflammation. To give you an idea of a 1oz serving size of nuts, it is about 23 almonds, 18 cashews, 21 hazelnuts, 6 Brazil nuts, 12 macadamia nuts, 14 walnut halves, 20 pecan halves, 49 pistachios. We did not see any differences in cholesterol-lowering effects by nut type. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Heart Disease / 13.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. Tracy Wang MD MHS MSc Assistant Dean, Continuing Medical Education Director, Center for Educational Excellence Fellowship Associate Program Director Associate Professor of Medicine, Cardiology Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Medication non-adherence is a known challenge in the management of patients with coronary artery disease. Barriers to adherence are multifactorial, attributed to patient, healthcare provider, and social determinants. However, whether patient medication adherence varies across different hospitals is unknown. In this study, we sought to determine whether inter-hospital differences exist in the degree of patient adherence to secondary prevention medications after discharge. Moreover, we assessed whether these hospital-specific variations in medication adherence, if any, correspond to downstream patient outcomes. We observed that the majority of post-MI patients were prescribed guideline-recommended secondary prevention medications at discharge. However, among those prescribed, we see a significant decline in the use of these medications within just 90 days after discharge. Medication adherence rates varied markedly across U.S. hospitals, with the widest variation seen for post-discharge use of beta-blockers. Hospitals with high post-discharge  medication adherence were associated with significantly lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events and death or all-cause readmissions when compared with hospitals with low adherence rates, even after adjustment for differences in patient case-mix. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease / 12.11.2015 Interview with: Carrie C. Lubitz, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School Senior Scientist, Institute for Technology Assessment Attending Surgeon, Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care Danvers, Massachusetts Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lubitz: Given reported estimates of resistant hypertension and the proportion of resistant hypertensive patients  with primary hyperaldosteronism (PA) - the most common form of secondary hypertension caused by a nodule or hyperplasia of the adrenal glands – we estimate over a million Americans have undiagnosed PA. Furthermore, it has been shown that patients with PA with the same blood pressure as comparable patients with primary hypertension have worse outcomes. In our study, we found that identifying and appropriately treating patients with PA can improve long-term outcomes in patients in a large number of patients who have resistant hypertension. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Surgical Research / 11.11.2015

Dr. Giuseppe Andò University of Messina, Messina, Interview with: Dr. Giuseppe Andò University of Messina, Messina, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Andò: Patients’ preference for radial access for coronary angiography and percutaneous intervention is paralleled by an almost complete abolition of access-site bleeding. Given the deleterious impact of any clinically relevant bleeding event on short- and long-term outcomes, the use of radial access should translate into a reduction in net adverse events, especially in patients with high risk of bleeding such as those with an acute coronary syndrome. Nonetheless, studies conducted over the past decade by pioneers of radial access were relatively small and not sufficiently compelling to affect guidelines and endorse a change in current practice. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Andò: We have pooled in the present study 4 well-conducted, large, multicenter studies with data from centers with different expertise in radial procedures across America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. We demonstrate that the use of radial access can reduce mortality in patients with acute coronary syndromes undergoing invasive management by a consistent reduction in major bleeding. (more…)
Author Interviews, Clots - Coagulation, Heart Disease, Stroke, University of Michigan / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Geoffrey Barnes, MD, MSc Clinical Lecturer Cardiovascular Medicine and Vascular Medicine University of Michigan Health System Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Barnes: Although warfarin has been the primary anticoagulant used for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation for over 60 years, four new direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have been introduced into the market since 2010. Dabigatran, which directly inhibits thrombin, was found to have better prevention of ischemic stroke and a significant reduction in hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding strokes) for patients with atrial fibrillation at intermediate and high risk of stroke.  Prior cost-effectiveness studies have shown that dabigatran is cost-effective from both the societal and payer (usually Medicare) perspectives.  However, none of those studies looked at the patient’s out-of-pocket costs and the impact of prescription drug coverage Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Barnes: We found that patients with prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) had significant cost savings when choosing dabigatran over warfarin.  This is primarily because of the reduction in both types of stroke as well not needing to have frequent blood draws, as are required by warfarin.  However, when patients do not have prescription drug coverage, the costs for dabigatran are quite high.  (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Duke, Education, Gender Differences, Heart Disease / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, FASE, FAHA Ursula Geller Professor of Research in Cardiovascular Disease Duke University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Douglas: The impetus for our study was the concern that cardiology as a profession might be enhanced by greater diversity. By not attracting women in larger numbers (9% of FACCs are female), our fellowships have incomplete access to the talent pool of outstanding residents, and we do not have a diverse group of clinicians to care for our increasingly diverse patient population, or of researchers to explore potentially important health care disparities. Our findings were twofold: first, job descriptions for men and women cardiologists are dramatically different. Men are much more likely to do invasive procedures while women are more likely to see patients and perform imaging/noninvasive tests.  While there were slightly more women working part time than men this was still rare, and the difference in number of days worked was just 6, across an entire year. The second finding was that there was a significant difference in compensation. Unadjusted, this was over $110, 000 per year; after very robust adjustment using over 100  personal, practice, job description and productivity measures, the difference was $37, 000 per year, or over a million dollars across a career. A separate independent economic analysis of wage differentials yield a similar difference of $32,000 per year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Heart Disease, Pharmacology / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Lauren Cooper, MD Fellow in Cardiovascular Diseases Duke University Medical Center Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cooper: Heart failure guidelines recommend routine monitoring of serum potassium and renal function in patients treated with a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist (MRA). Specific monitoring recommendations include: within 2-3 days of initiation of the drug, again at 7 days, monthly for at least 3 months, then every 3 months thereafter. However, no large studies had evaluated compliance with these safety recommendations in routine clinical practice. Using Medicare claims data from 2011, we evaluated monitoring of serum creatinine and potassium levels among patients with heart failure initiated on an MRA. After MRA initiation, rates of guideline-recommended laboratory monitoring of creatinine and potassium were low. Of 10,443 Medicare beneficiaries included in this study, 91.6% received pre-initiation testing; however, only 13.3% received appropriate testing in the first 10 days after drug initiation and 29.9% received appropriate testing in the first 3 months. Only 7.2% of patients received guideline-recommended laboratory monitoring both before and after MRA initiation. Chronic kidney disease was associated with a greater likelihood of appropriate testing (relative risk, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.58-2.13), as was concomitant diuretic use (relative risk, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.44-2.21). (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Pharmacology / 10.11.2015

Josep Rodés-Cabau, MD Director, Catheterization and Interventional Laboratories Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University Quebec City, Quebec, Interview with: Josep Rodés-Cabau, MD Director, Catheterization and Interventional Laboratories Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University Quebec City, Quebec, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rodés-Cabau: The occurrence of new-onset migraine attacks has been reported in about 15% of patients following transcatheter atrial septal defect (ASD) closure. Prior observational studies suggested a reduction of migraine headache post-ASD closure with the use of clopidogrel on top of aspirin. Our study (the prospective randomized CANOA trial) showed that the use of clopidogrel (in addition to aspirin) following transcatheter ASD closure was associated with a significant reduction in the occurrence and number of new-onset migraine attacks within the 3 months following the procedure. Also, among patients with migraine attacks, those receiving clopidogrel therapy experience less-severe migraine attacks. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Heart Disease, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. Christina Mangurian MD Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Department of Psychiatry's first Director of Diversity Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mangurian: People with severe mental illness (SMI, e.g., schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) die 25 years earlier than the general population, often from cardiovascular disease.  The ADA and APA guidelines recommend annual diabetes screening of this population when taking certain antipsychotic medications.  Despite these guidelines, nearly 70% of this population remain unscreened.  This has huge public health implications and likely costs our public health system a tremendous amount in undiagnosed disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, PAD / 09.11.2015 Interview with: Farzin Fakhry, MD PhD Candidate Depts. of Epidemiology & Radiology Erasmus MC Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Myriam Hunink MD, PhD Professor Professor of Radiology and Clinical Epidemiology Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam Adjunct Professor of Health Decision Science Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Intermittent claudication is the classical symptomatic form of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and affects approximately 20-40 million people worldwide. These patients experience significant functional disability resulting in a sedentary lifestyle and reduced quality of life. In the Endovascular Revascularization And Supervised Exercise (ERASE) study we compared a combination therapy of endovascular revascularization plus supervised exercise versus the recommended care of supervised exercise only as first-line treatment for patients with intermittent claudication. Results from the ERASE study showed that after one year follow up patients in both groups showed significant improvements in their treadmill walking distance and disease specific quality of life. Yet, patients receiving the combination therapy had more rapid and significantly greater improvement in their walking performance and disease specific quality of life compared to the patients following a supervised exercise program only. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, JAMA / 09.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. David Bluemke MD, PhD, MsB Director of Radiology and Imaging Sciences NIH Clinical Center Bethesda, MD  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bluemke: Heart disease is the most common reason for death and disability of adults in the United States and worldwide. This study evaluated 1,840 adults in six communities throughout the United States, ages 45-84. In normal adults, the heart is a muscle, but various injuries to the heart (the most severe being a myocardial infarction/ heart attack) occur over an individual’s lifetime. These injuries result in heart muscle being replaced by a scar composed of fibrous tissue. The main finding is that even in healthy, middle and older adults, about 1 in 12 adults in the U.S. have developed scars in the heart. Most of these (80%) are not detected by their doctor, or by other tests such as ECG. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Kidney Disease, Pharmacology / 08.11.2015 Interview with: Frederic T. (Josh) Billings IV, MD, Msc Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Billings: Acute kidney injury (AKI) following cardiac surgery is common (affects 20-30% of patients), and even mild forms of AKI are independently associated with a five-fold increase in death. Statins, commonly prescribed to reduce cholesterol concentrations and cardiovascular disease, affect several mechanisms underlying surgical AKI. Observational studies comparing rates of AKI between statin users and non-users have yielded inconsistent results and don’t assess the effect of statin use during the surgical period. In a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of 653 cardiac surgery patients, we found that high-dose atorvastatin given prior to surgery, the day of surgery and daily postoperatively did not affect AKI. In fact, among statin-naïve patients with pre-existing kidney disease, rates of AKI were higher in those randomized to atorvastatin compared to those randomized to placebo. In patients who were using statins prior to the study, rates of AKI were similar between those randomized to atorvastatin and those randomized to placebo (short-term withdrawal), regardless of baseline kidney function. Safety markers of muscle and liver toxicity were not affected by statin treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, Vitamin D / 03.11.2015

Dr Emad Al-Dujaili Reader in Biochemistry and Nutrition, Queen Margaret University Department of Health Science Queen Margaret Interview with: Dr Emad Al-Dujaili Reader in Biochemistry and Nutrition, Queen Margaret University Department of Health Science Queen Margaret University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Al-Dujaili: Recent studies have implicated vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for Cardiovascular disease and its deficiency is a potential biological predictor of increased rates of CVD. We have done 2 earlier studies investigating the effects of Vitamin D intake on Blood pressure and the stress hormone level cortisol and found that people taking the supplement of Vitamin D had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to those who took the placebo. Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus and oxidative stress and reduced exercise performance. For instance, the Framingham offspring study proved that low levels of vitamin D are independently related to Cardiovascular disease incidence. In this placebo-controlled study, We have observed that people given 50ug of Vitamin D daily for 2 weeks showed a significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, reduced urinary free cortisol (the hormone that produces stress and high blood pressure if its levels are high. Moreover, the distance cycled in 20 minutes significantly increased by 30% with slightly less efforts compared with that before Vitamin D supplement. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Diabetes, Heart Disease / 30.10.2015 Interview with: Dr. Yung-Tai Chen MD Division of Nephrology Department of Medicine Taipei City Hospital Heping Fuyou Branch Taipei, Taiwan Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chen: Recent studies concluded that dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors can provide glycemic control but also raised concerns about the risk of heart failure in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). However, large-scale studies of the effects of DPP-4 inhibitors versus sulfonylureas (SUs) on cardiovascular outcomes when used as add-ons to metformin therapy remain scarce. Our study showed that compared to SUs, DPP-4 inhibitors were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, stroke and hypoglycemia as an add-on to metformin. Besides, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors had comparable risks of hospitalization for heart failure to sulfonylureas as add-ons to metformin. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Electronic Records, Heart Disease / 30.10.2015 Interview with: Jonathan R. Enriquez, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology University of Missouri- Kansas City Director, Coronary Care Unit Truman Medical Center  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Enriquez:  
  • In 2009, U.S. legislation appropriated tens of billions of dollars to promote the use of electronic health records (EHRs).
  • Approximately 4 million hospitalizations for cardiovascular diagnoses occur annually in the U.S., which are more hospitalizations than for any other category of disease.  Therefore, evaluating the use of EHRs in these settings can help us understand how to best optimize the care and outcomes of a huge set of patients.