Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Heart Disease, Pediatrics / 07.01.2016 Interview with: Daniel A. Mulrooney, MD, MS Cancer Survivorship Jude Children's Research Hospital TN 38105-3678 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Dr. Mulrooney:  This is a cross-sectional analysis performed in the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study (SJLIFE), an ongoing study designed to facilitate longitudinal evaluation of health outcomes among adults previously treated for childhood cancer.  Following patients over the life spectrum can be challenging making it difficult to understand the long-term health effects of childhood cancer therapy.  Previous studies have relied on self-report, registry, or death certificate data.  Our study is novel because we clinically evaluated cancer survivors on the St. Jude campus and identified substantial, asymptomatic cardiac disease (cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, valvular disease, and conduction/rhythm disorders).
  • Cardiomyopathy was present in 7.4% of survivors and newly identified by screening in 4.7%.
  • Coronary artery disease was present in 3.8% of survivors and newly identified by screening in 2.2%.
  • Valvular disease (regurgitation or stenosis) was present in 28% of survivors and newly identified by screening in 24.8%.
  • Conduction or rhythm abnormalities were present in 4.4% of survivors and newly identified by screening in 1.4%.
The prevalence of these cardiac findings might be expected in an older population but not necessarily in this young adult (median age at time of study 31 years, range: 18-60) population.    (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Stanford, Surgical Research / 04.01.2016 Interview with: Dr. Mary Hawn MD MPH Chair, Department of Surgery Stanford School of Medicine Stanford, California Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hawn: Patients with known coronary artery disease are at higher risk for adverse cardiac events in the peri-operative period.  Revascularization with coronary stents does not appear to mitigate this risk and in fact, may elevate the risk if surgery is in the early post-stent period.  Drug eluting stents pose a particular dilemma as these patients require 12 months of dual anti platelet therapy to prevent stent thrombosis, thus elective surgery is recommended to be delayed during this period.  In contrast, bare metal stents with early epithilialization are not at the same risk for stent thrombosis with anti platelet cessation.   In our retrospective cohort study, however, we observed that stent type was not a major driver of adverse events in the early post-stent period and that underlying cardiac disease and acuity of the surgery explained most of the risk.  We undertook this study to determine the influence of the underlying indication for the stent procedure on surgical outcomes over time following the stent. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Heart Disease, Kidney Disease / 03.01.2016 Interview with: Renato D. Lopes MD, MHS, PhD Duke University Medical Center Duke Clinical Research Institute Durham, NC 27705   John P. Vavalle, MD, MHS Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Dr. Lopes: Patients with varying degrees of underlying renal failure who presented for primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for the treatment of ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) were studied as part of the APEX-AMI trial. Baseline renal dysfunction portends a worse prognosis in patients undergoing PCI. However, the association between clinical outcomes and angiographic results with baseline renal function in this population of STEMI patients is not clearly defined.  We report the results of a trial population with a full spectrum of underlying renal function (normal to dialysis dependent) and developed a prediction model for the development of acute kidney injury following primary percutaneous coronary intervention. In summary, patients with worse underlying renal function had worse angiographic outcomes, higher mortality, and were less likely to be treated with evidence-based medications.  The rate of acute kidney injury (AKI) after PCI appears to increase with worsening underlying renal function, except for those with Class IV chronic kidney disease where the rate of AKI was lowest.  Our novel prediction model for the development of AKI found that the strongest predictors of AKI were age and presenting in Killip Class III or IV. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Heart Disease, JAMA, Kidney Disease, Surgical Research / 29.12.2015 Interview with: Azra Bihorac, MD, MS and Department of Anesthesiology Charles Hobson, MD, MHA Department of Surgery, Malcolm Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Department of Health Services Research, Management, and Policy University of Florida Gainesville Florida  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:   Background is that as ICU clinicians we see acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) frequently and have to deal with the consequences, and as AKI researchers we have shown that even mild and moderate AKI – even if there is complete resolution of the AKI by the time of hospital discharge – result in significantly increased morbidity and mortality for the surgical patient. Furthermore we are aware of the existing relationship between CKD and cardiovascular mortality, and we wanted to explore any relationship between AKI and cardiovascular mortality in the vascular surgery patients that we care for on a daily basis. The most important finding was the strong association between AKI and cardiovascular mortality in these patients – equal to the well-known association between CKD and cardiovascular mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, CT Scanning, Heart Disease / 24.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Joan Pinto-Sietsma MD PhD Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A positive family history for premature coronary artery disease is an important risk factor for coronary artery disease. Therefore, it is frequently proposed to be included in current risk assessment tools and clinical practice guidelines. On the other hand, a positive family history for coronary artery disease only identifies families at risk, whereas it fails to identify which specific individual within a family is at particular risk. Therefore, its applicability in clinical practice is limited. The detection of subclinical atherosclerosis as assessed by assessing coronary artery calcification, with CT scanning, has emerged as prognostic evaluation of coronary artery disease. Prospective follow-up studies have shown that coronary artery calcification predicts cardiovascular events, independent of risk factors. Therefore, assessing coronary artery calcifications in families with premature coronary artery disease might help in determining which individuals within such families are at particular risk and therefore help decide regarding treatment. We analysed the association between a positive family history for premature coronary artery disease and coronary artery calcifications in 704 asymptomatic individuals. Furthermore, we assessed the predictive value of coronary artery calcifications in individuals with a positive family history for premature coronary artery disease in a sub analysis in 834 individuals of the St. Francis Heart Study, in which subjects were followed for about 3.5 years. We observed, that individuals of high risk families (a positive family history of premature coronary artery disease) had a 2 time higher risk to have a calcium score > the 80th percentile as compared to individuals with a negative family history of premature coronary artery disease. Besides, individuals from high risk families with a high calcium score (> the 80th percentile) had a 2 time higher risk to get a cardiovascular event in 3,5 years, whereas individuals of high risk families without coronary calcifications did not have an increased risk at all. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Heart Disease, Lancet / 24.12.2015 Interview with: Kazem Rahimi | FRCP DM MSc FESC Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford Deputy Director, The George Institute for Global Health James Martin Fellow in Healthcare Innovation, Oxford Martin School Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Rahimi: Although the benefits of blood pressure lowering treatment for prevention of cardiovascular disease are well established, the extent to which these effects differ by baseline blood pressure, presence of co-morbidities (such as stroke or diabetes), or drug class is less clear. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Prof. Rahimi: Our study has several implications for clinical practice. Our findings suggest that blood pressure lowering to levels below those recommended in current guidelines (ie, systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm Hg) will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. By showing no evidence for a threshold below which blood pressure lowering ceases to work, the findings call for blood pressure lowering based on an individual’s potential net benefit from treatment rather than treatment of the risk factor to a specific target. Furthermore, the differences we identified between classes of drugs support more targeted drug use for individuals at high risk of specific outcomes (eg, calcium channel blocker therapy for individuals at high risk of stroke or and diuretics are more eff ective for prevention of heart failure). Overall, our findings clearly show that treating blood pressure to a lower level than currently recommended could greatly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and potentially save millions of lives if the treatment was widely implemented. The results provide strong support for reducing systolic blood pressure to less than 130 mmHg, and blood pressure-lowering drugs should be offered to all patients at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, whatever their reason for being at risk.  (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Education, Heart Disease, Stroke / 23.12.2015 Interview with: Carole Decker, RN, PhD, CPHQ, FAHA Director, Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute Kansas City, MO 64111 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Decker: Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death. The utilization of thrombolytic therapy is the national standard of care for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) treatment resulting in improved outcomes at 90 days and yet only 7% of patients with AIS receive a thrombolytic. The American College of Emergency Physicians emphasizes the importance of using a shared medical decision-making model with AIS patients and their caregivers to discuss benefits and risks of treatment. The recommended door-to-needle (emergency door to thrombolytic administration) is 60 minutes to achieve the optimal patient outcomes which can be problematic in that conversation on benefits and risks occurs in a hurried emergency setting. Multiple risk models to identify individualized benefits and risks of thrombolytic therapy have been developed but few are used prospectively and are not used at the point of care. Our team created ePRISM (Personalized Risk Information Services Manager), a Web-based tool, to generate personalized documents with patient-specific outcomes based on validated risks models. To support knowledge transfer and creation of a shared decision-making tool, our multidisciplinary team conducted qualitative interviews to define the information needs and preferred presentation format for stroke survivors, caregivers, and clinicians considering thrombolytic treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Emergency Care, Heart Disease / 21.12.2015 Interview with: Florence Leclercq, MD, PhD Department of Cardiology Arnaud de Villeneuve Hospital University hospital of Montpellier Montpellier,France Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with history of coronary artery disease (CAD) are considered as a population with high risk of further coronary eventsHowever, frequent pre-existing ECG changes observed in these patients result in difficulty interpreting new ECG aspects in case of chest discomfort. Furthermore, anxiety frequently induced non-cardiac causes of chest pain in these patients, leading to unjustified admission to cardiology units.  Moreover, levels of troponin are usually higher in patients with previous CAD compared to patients without history of angina, resulting in difficulty interpreting baseline values in this population.  Conversely, copeptin may be influenced by the severity of myocardial ischemia and resulting endogenous stress, and could be a useful additional marker to exclude severe coronary stenosis in high-risk patients with recent chest pain. This propective monocentric study evaluates the incremental value of copeptin associated with high-sensitivity cardiac T troponin (hs-cTnT) to exclude severe coronary stenosis in 96 patients with coronary artery disease  (CAD) and acute chest pain.   Mean age of patients was 60 +/- 13.8 years and the mean time between chest pain onset and blood samples of copeptin was 4.2 +/-2.7 hours. According to clinical decision, coronary angiography was performed in 71 patients (73.9 %) and severe stenosis diagnosed in 14 of them (14.6%). No ischemia was detected on SPECT imaging (n=25). Among the 69 patients with a negative kinetic of hs-cTnT and a negative baseline copeptin, 5 (7.4%) had a severe stenosis (NPV 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87-0.99), 4 of them related to in-stent restenosis (NPV for exclusion of native coronary stenosis: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.93-1). We can conclude that in patients with preexisting CAD, and once Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) is excluded, copeptin increases the NPV of  hs-cTnT  to rule out severe coronary stenosis or significant myocardial ischemia. Coronary stenosis not detected with this strategy concerned exclusively in-stent restenosis or stenosis related to infarcted -related  coronary artery without myocardial viability. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, Surgical Research / 17.12.2015 Interview with: Dr Gerry McCann MD Reader in Cardiovascular Imaging Department of Cardiovascular Sciences University of Leicester Leicester UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. McCann:  Cardiologists increasingly treat patients who suffer a large heart attack with an emergency procedure performed under local anaesthetic. The blocked artery that causes the heart attack is opened by inserting a small metal stent at the blockage. Up to 50% of patients treated in this way also have other narrowed heart arteries. Two recent studies (PRAMI and CvLPRIT) in patients with heart attacks and multiple narrowed arteries have suggested that treating all of the narrowed arteries (complete revascularization) may be better than just treating the blocked artery. However, there is concern that the longer procedure, and putting in more stents, may cause more injury to the heart. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings Dr. McCann:  We studied 203 patients having a heart attack who were randomly assigned to have only the blocked artery opened (105 patients) or complete revascularization during the initial hospitalization (98 patients) in the CvLPRIT study. We assessed the size of the heart attack and any smaller areas of damage using MRI scanning. Patients who were treated with complete revascularization were more likely to have evidence of more than 1 heart attack on the MRI than if only the blocked artery was treated (22% vs. 11% of patients). However, these additional heart attacks were generally small and the total percentage of the heart that was damaged was not increased (12.6% vs. 13.5%). The pumping function of the heart measured 3 days and 9 months after treatment was also similar with both treatments. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NEJM, Surgical Research / 17.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Jochen Reinöhl Consultant and Head of the ISAH team (intervention for structural and congenital cardiovascular diseases) Department of Cardiology and Angiology I  (Medical Director: Prof. Dr. Christoph Bode) University Heart Center Freiburg ∙ Bad Krozingen Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Reinöhl: Aortic valve stenosis is a medical condition with very high short-term mortality. Previously its only treatment – therefore the gold standard – consisted of surgical valve replacement. Since 2007 transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR) can be considered alternative. Its impact on clinical practice, however, is largely unknown. TAVR numbers rose from 144 in 2007 to 9,147 in 2013, whereas surgical aortic-valve replacement procedures only marginally decreased from 8,622 to 7,048. For both groups in-hospital mortality, as well as, the incidence of stroke, bleeding and pacemaker implantation (but not acute kidney injury) decreased. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Hospital Readmissions / 15.12.2015 Interview with: Javed Butler MD MPH Chief, Division of Cardiology Stony Brook University Health Sciences Center SUNY at Stony Brook, NY Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Butler: There is a lot of emphasis on reducing the risk of readmission after heart failure hospitalization. The main focus is on early readmissions as the risk for readmission is highest earlier post discharge. In this study, we described the fact that certainly there is some increased risk post discharge, the majority of the risk is actually dependent on the patient and disease characteristics at the time of discharge as opposed to true reduction in risk over time, which is partially related to differential attrition of high risk patients earlier post discharge. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, Women's Heart Health / 10.12.2015 Interview with: Sherry L. Grace, PhD Professor, York University Senior Scientist, University Health Network University of Toronto MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Grace: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for women world-wide. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an outpatient secondary prevention program composed of structured exercise and comprehensive education and counseling.Cardiac rehabilitation participation results in lower morbidity and mortality, among other benefits. Unfortunately, women are significantly less likely to adhere to these programs than men. While the traditional model of Cardiac rehabilitation care is a hospital-based mixed-sex program, women are the minority in such programs, and state that these programs do not meet their care preferences. Two other models of CR care have been developed: hospital-based women-only (sex-specific) and monitored home-based programs. Women’s adherence to these program models is not well known. Cardiac Rehabilitation for her Heart Event Recovery (CR4HER) was a 3 parallel arm pragmatic randomized controlled trial‎ (RCT) designed to compare women’s program adherence to traditional hospital-based CR with males and females attending (mixed-sex), home-based CR (bi-weekly phone calls), and women-only hospital-based CR. The primary outcome was program adherence operationalized as  Cardiac rehabilitation site-reported percentage of prescribed sessions completed by phone or on-site, as reported by a staff member who was blind to study objectives. The secondary outcomes included functional capacity. It was hoped that by identifying the CR program model which resulted in the greatest adherence for women, their participation and potentially their cardiac outcomes could be optimized. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Grace: Similar to previous research, we found that women did not adhere very highly to the  Cardiac rehabilitation programs. Half of the women dropped out of CR, and this occurred regardless of the type of program they went to. Some women did not even start Cardiac rehabilitation at all, even though we had referred them. On average, the women went to just over half the sessions (at the CR centre or on the phone; they were prescribed a median of 24 sessions). If we consider only the women who actually started CR, they attended almost 2/3rds of prescribed CR sessions. Women experienced gains in their exercise capacity over the course of CR participation. Attending the traditional co-ed program was associated with the greatest exercise capacity. This could be due to the fact that the staff push them to exercise at their target levels when they are in a supervised program. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Emergency Care, Heart Disease / 10.12.2015 Interview with: Justin A. Ezekowitz, MBBCh MSc Associate Professor, University of Alberta Co-Director, Canadian VIGOUR Centre Cardiologist  and Director, Heart Function Clinic Nariman Sepehrvand, MD Research Fellow & Graduate Student Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Ezekowitz: Major practice guidelines recommend the use of natriuretic peptide (NP) testing for diagnosing acute heart failure (HF) in emergency departments (ED). Despite these guidelines, the majority of healthcare regions all around the world (except for the United States and New Zealand) have restricted access to NP testing due to concerns over cost to healthcare systems. In the province of Alberta, Canada, however, a province-wide access to NP testing was provided for all EDs in 2012. This study investigates the factors that are related to the utilization of NP testing in EDs. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Ezekowitz: There was a substantial geographic variation in testing for NPs, despite having a single payer system and the universal availability of NP testing in Alberta. Several factors (including male sex, some comorbidities like prior heart failure, urban residence, type of care provider and ED clinical volume) influenced the utilization of testing for NPs in routine ED practice. Interestingly, patients with heart failure who were tested for NPs at ED, had a higher rate of hospital admission and lower 7 day and 90 day repeat ED visit rates compared to those who were not tested. (more…)
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…)