Annals Thoracic Surgery, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Outcomes & Safety / 02.09.2015

Dr. Ansar Hassan MD PhD Department of Cardiac Surgery New Brunswick Heart Centre Saint John Regional Hospital Saint John, New BrunswicMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ansar Hassan MD PhD Department of Cardiac Surgery New Brunswick Heart Centre Saint John Regional Hospital Saint John, New Brunswick Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hassan: For years, geographic place of residence and one’s proximity to a tertiary care center has been identified as a predictor for access to care.   Little is known regarding the effect of geography on patient outcomes.   The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between geography and in-hospital / 30-day outcomes among patients undergoing cardiac surgery.  What we found was that despite there being no relationship between geography and in-hospital outcomes, those who lived further away from hospital clearly had worse 30-day outcomes. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Hassan: While patients from a differing geographic places of residence appear to have similar in-hospital outcomes following cardiac surgery, their clinical courses following discharge from hospital differ considerably.   Clinicians and patients need to realize that where one lives is tremendously important as it relates to his or her health and that particular attention needs to be paid to cardiac surgery patients who live further away from their tertiary care center, especially within the first 30 days following surgery. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Johns Hopkins, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research / 01.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jill A. Marsteller, PhD, MPP Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, Maryland and Juan A. Sanchez, MD, MPA, FACS, FACC Associate Professor of Surgery Associate Faculty, Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality Johns Hopkins Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The culture of healthcare organizations with regards to safety has an impact on patient outcomes.  A strong culture serves as a platform for preventing medical errors. This study examines the culture of safety along several dimensions in cardiac surgical teams and compares this data to surgery of all types using a large database. In our study, cardiac surgery teams scored highest in teamwork and lowest in non-punitive responses to error.  In addition, there was substantial variation on safety climate perception across team roles. For example, surgeons and support staff had higher perceptions of a safety climate than other team members. Compared to all types of surgery teams, cardiac surgery teams scored higher in overall perceptions of safety except for anesthesiologists who reported lower scores on communication about errors and communication openness. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Thromboembolism / 01.09.2015

Line Melgaard MSc. Industrial Medicine, PhD student AALBORG Univerity Hospital Thrombosis Research Center Aalborg Aalborg Hospital Science and Innovation Center Aalborg DenmarkMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Line Melgaard MSc. Industrial Medicine, PhD student AALBORG Univerity Hospital Thrombosis Research Center Aalborg Aalborg Hospital Science and Innovation Center Aalborg Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In recent years, use of the CHA2DS2-VASc score in predicting ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death has extended beyond the original disease state (atrial fibrillation) for which it was proposed. In addition, it is recognized that the cluster of multiple stroke risk factors included within the CHA2DS2-VASc score increases the risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death, whether or not atrial fibrillation is present. Thus, there is a need to study the extent to which concomitant atrial fibrillation modifies the pattern of the association between CHA2DS2-VASc score and the risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death in patients with heart failure.
  • Our principal findings were that patients with heart failure had a high risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death, whether or not atrial fibrillation was present.
  • Second, the CHA2DS2-VASc score was able to modestly predict these endpoints, and had a moderately high negative predictive value at 1-year follow-up.
  • Third, at high CHA2DS2-VASc scores (≥4), patients with heart failure without atrial fibrillation had high absolute risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death, and the absolute risk increased in a comparable manner in patients with heart failure with and without atrial fibrillation, exhibiting a clear dose-response relationship. Indeed, the absolute risk of thromboembolic complications was higher among patients without atrial fibrillation compared to patients with concomitant atrial fibrillation at high CHA2DS2-VASc score (≥4).
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Author Interviews, Education, Heart Disease / 31.08.2015

Jaclyn Portanova, Ph.D School of Gerontology University of Southern California DavisMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jaclyn Portanova, Ph.D student School of Gerontology University of Southern California Davis Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Over the past two decades, we have made a lot of progress in educating the public about the need to engage in advance care planning and make health care decisions, such as whether or not to receive CPR in a medical crisis. The media plays a major role in shaping the way people think about life-saving measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In fact, a study published in 1996 showed that popular medical shows portrayed CPR as having a much higher rate of success than actual rates. We sought to determine if popular media has improved in the accuracy of their depiction of CPR survival rates. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Nearly 70% of TV show patients who received CPR survived the initial incident. This success rate is twice as high as actual rates. Even more striking, survival rate to hospital discharge following receipt of CPR was four times higher in popular medical television shows than actual rates. Advance care planning discussions between physicians and patients were rarely portrayed, but when they did occur patient preferences were honored. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA / 27.08.2015

Jay R. Desai, PhD, MPH HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research Minneapolis, MN 55425MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jay R. Desai, PhD, MPH HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research Minneapolis, MN 55425 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Desai: SUPREME-DM is a consortium of 11 integrated health systems throughout the United States that serve a culturally and economically diverse population of 16 million members. This study monitors changes in cardiovascular outcomes from 2005 through 2011 among the 1.2 million members identified with diabetes and a matched sample of 1.2 million members without diabetes. We found very encouraging and sustained declines in the rates of myocardial infarction/acute coronary syndrome (MI), stroke, heart failure (HF), and all-cause mortality among adults with and without diabetes.   Declines were greatest among the 15% adults who were already at high risk for cardiovascular events (such as people with diabetes or a prior history of heart disease). There was less improvement in cardiovascular event rates and mortality among the other 85% of members with low to moderate cardiovascular risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Kidney Disease / 22.08.2015

Tae-Hyun Yoo MD PhD Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine Severance Biomedical Science Institute, Brain Korea 21 PLUS Yonsei University, Seoul, KoreaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tae-Hyun Yoo MD PhD Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine Severance Biomedical Science Institute, Brain Korea 21 PLUS Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tae-Hyun Yoo: Sarcopenia, reduction in muscle mass, is frequently observed in PEW and is prevalent in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. In ESRD patients, sarcopenia is significantly associated with greater mortality. Skeletal muscles produce and release myokines, which  suggested to mediate their protective effects. Irisin, a novel myokine, has been introduced to drive brown-fat-like conversion of white adipose tissue and has beneficial effects of skeletal muscle on energy homeostasis and glucose metabolisms. Therefore, we hypothesized that irisin had significant association with sarcopenia and cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients. In peritoneal dialysis patients, serum irisin was positively correlated with mid-arm muscle circumference and thigh circumference. In addition, serum irisin was a significant independent predictor for carotid atherosclerosis even after adjustment for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in these patients. This study demonstrated that serum irisin was significantly associated with sarcopenia and carotid atherosclerosis in peritoneal dialysis patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Radiology / 22.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bjarne Linde Norgaard, MD PhD Department of Cardiology, Aarhus University Hospital Skejby Aarhus, Denmark   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Norgaard: Noninvasive fractional flow reserve derived from standard acquired coronary CT angiography (CTA) (FFRct) in patients with suspected coronary artery disease exhibits high and superior diagnostic performance when compared to coronary CTA alone in identifying lesion-specific ischemia (which is the established metric for decision-making on coronary revascularization). As the presence of coronary calcification may compromise the diagnostic accuracy and specificity of coronary CTA, this study was performed in order to investigate the influence of calcification on the diagnostic performance of FFRct in patients (214) and vessels (333) with suspected coronary artery disease. The main finding in this study was that FFRct provides high and superior diagnostic performance and discrimination of ischemia compared with coronary CTA interpretation alone in patients and vessels with high levels of calcification. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Hospital Readmissions / 19.08.2015

Jason H. Wasfy, MD Assistant Medical Director Massachusetts General Physicians Organization Massachusetts General Hospital MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jason H. Wasfy, MD Assistant Medical Director Massachusetts General Physicians Organization Massachusetts General Hospital   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wasfy: Hospital readmission after angioplasty (heart stents) is very common in the United States and is associated with poorer patient outcomes and substantial health care costs.  We can predict which patients will get readmitted, but only with moderate accuracy.  Analyzing the electronic medical records of large health care systems may provide clues about how to predict readmissions more accurately. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Wasfy: Patients who are anxious or have visited the emergency department frequently before the procedure may be at higher risk of readmission.  For those patients, reassurance and support may help them stay out of the hospital.  This has the potential to improve health outcomes after angioplasty and improve value in cardiology care generally.  High quality care for patients with coronary artery disease involves not only procedures and medicines, but also creating a support system for patients to cope with their disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Genetic Research, Heart Disease, Nature / 18.08.2015

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt PhD Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Associate Geneticist, Department of Neurology, Molecular Neurogenetics Unit Center for Human Genetic Research Massachusetts General HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Susan A. Slaugenhaupt PhD Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Associate Geneticist, Department of Neurology, Molecular Neurogenetics Unit Center for Human Genetic Research Massachusetts General Hospital   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Slaugenhaupt: Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is one of the most common human diseases affecting 1 out of every 40 people worldwide.  The mitral valve is found between two chambers of the heart, and mitral valve prolapse results when the valve does not close properly.  By studying families in which multiple members have mitral valve prolapse, we have identified a biological explanation for the disease.  Mutations in the DCHS1 gene cause mitral valve prolapse in three families, and suggest that early defects in heart valve formation during development contribute to the progressive deterioration of the valve. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Heart Disease / 14.08.2015

Dr. Kristin Kostick PhD on behalf of the authors Research Associate - Decision Making and Ethics Research Program Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Kristin Kostick PhD on behalf of the authors Research Associate - Decision Making and Ethics Research Program Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The idea of this study came from a larger research study we’re doing to develop and test a decision aid for patients and caregivers considering LVAD treatment. As part of that study, we interviewed LVAD patients, candidates, caregivers and decliners of LVAD treatment to explore their decisional needs. One of the things that kept coming up in these interviews was the need for “support,” which everyone, including clinicians, identified as a crucial aspect of post-implant recovery. There is an excellent clinical support team at our partnering hospital in Houston, as well as a community of LVAD recipients and caregivers where people can get together to share their stories and resources face-to-face. But for other people who find it difficult to get to the hospital, either because they have transportation barriers or they simply live too far away, we began to wonder whether support services might be available to them in virtual settings. So we decided to do this analysis to see what social media sites exist for the LVAD community. What is the content of these sites? Are there different kinds for different support needs? What are patients getting from them? How might they be used in the future for improving patient care and support? (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Heart Disease / 12.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bradley C. Clark, MD Pediatric Cardiology Fellow – 3rd Year Division of Cardiology Children's National Health System Washington, DC 20010 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Clark: After consulting on multiple pediatric emergency room patients with K2 (synthetic cannabinoid) ingestion and electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities, my co-authors and I decided that it was worth taking a more detailed look at the potential cardiac effects of synthetic cannabinoids. We did a retrospective chart review and discovered a total of 8 patients in a 3 year period (2011 – 2014) at our institution with reported synthetic cannabinoid ingestion and concern for myocardial injury.  There were 3 individuals with evidence of ECG abnormalities in a segmental pattern with increased cardiac enzyme levels (troponins).  The other 5 individuals had ECG abnormalities either without troponin elevations or were not specifically tested.  Each individual that had an echocardiogram performed had normal intracardiac anatomy with normal biventricular systolic function. Given the elevated troponin levels and ECG abnormalities, there was a suspicion for myocardial ischemia in this small subset of patients without meeting specific criteria for myocardial infarction.  Interestingly, these individuals had completely normal echocardiograms and had no other potential cause of myocardial ischemia discovered by history.  Additionally, these were all teenage pediatric patients with documented K2 exposure without evidence of exposure to illegal substances. K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids are known to cause analgesia and euphoria and can lead to a lack of symptomatology.  Therefore, individuals with synthetic cannabinoid ingestion may not complain of the prototypical cardiac symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations) and may not have the workup to diagnose potential myocardial ischemia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, Nutrition / 12.08.2015

James M. Shikany, DrPH Professor of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL MedicalResearch.com Interview with: James M. Shikany, DrPH Professor of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shikany: There is a growing interest in the field of nutritional epidemiology in relating overall dietary practices to various disease endpoints. For example, the assessment of dietary patterns in a population may be more meaningful than concentrating on isolated nutrients or foods because they more closely reflect how people eat in the real world. Previously, we looked at how the degree to which one adhered to 5 dietary patterns identified in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study was associated with the risk of stroke. In the current study, we investigated how the degree to which one adhered to these dietary patterns was related to the risk of incident acute coronary heart disease. The main finding was that a Southern dietary pattern (characterized by added fats, fried foods, eggs and egg dishes, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages) was associated with a significantly greater hazard of incident acute coronary heart disease in REGARDS participants. The association persisted following adjustment for sociodemographics, lifestyle factors, and energy intake. Specifically, following multivariable adjustment, participants in the highest quartile of consumption of the Southern pattern experienced a 56% greater hazard of incident coronary heart disease compared with those in the lowest quartile of consumption of this pattern. Another pattern we observed – the Plant-based pattern – characterized by vegetables, fruits, beans, yogurt, poultry, and fish was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Outcomes & Safety / 10.08.2015

Helle Søholm, MD, PhDDepartment of Cardiology Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet Denmark MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Helle Søholm, MD, PhD Department of Cardiology Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Søholm: The background of the current study is that previous studies have found higher survival rates after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and admission to tertiary heart centres for post-resuscitaton care compared with nontertiary hospitals, however the reasons for this difference has only been speculative. The aim of the study was to examine the level-of post-resuscitation care at tertiary heart centers compared with nontertiary hospitals and to associate this with outcome. Only patients without ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction was examined to avoid referral bias. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Søholm: The main findings of the study of 1.078 patients was that the survival in patients admitted to tertiary heart centers was significantly higher compared with survival in patients admitted to nontertiary hospitals even after adjustment for known risk markers including pre-arrest co-morbidity. We found that the adjusted odds of predefined markers of level-of-care differed in both the acute phase after admission, during the intensive care admission and in the workup prior to hospital discharge. The odds of admission to an intensive care unit was 1.8 for patients admitted to a tertiary heart centre. During the intensive care admission the odds of a temporay pacemaker was 6.4, use of vasoactive agents 1.5, acute and late coronary angiography was 10 and 3.8 respectively, neurophysiological examination 1.8, brain computed tomography 1.9, whereas no difference in the odds of therapeutic hypothermia was found. Prior to hospital discharge the odds of a consultation by a cardiologist was 8.6, having an echocardiography was 2.9, and survivors more often had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator implanted (odds 2.1) as compared with patients admitted to nontertiary hospitals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lancet / 09.08.2015

Henning Kelbæk, MD Department of Cardiology Roskilde Hospital Roskilde, DenmarkMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henning Kelbæk, MD Department of Cardiology Roskilde Hospital Roskilde, Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kelbæk: The background to conduct the DANAMI 3-Primulti trial is the uncertainty of which strategy is most favourable to the patient with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction: to treat the culprit (resposible for the acute infarction) lesion only or to treat all visible lesions (complete revascularisation) The main findings of the PRIMULTI trial are that patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction and multivessel disease, benefit from supplementary complete revascularisation of lesions in non-infarct related arteries when the second procedure is done during the index admission guided by measurement of the fractional flow reserve. This strategy results in a significant reduction in the combination of all-cause mortality, nonfatal reinfarction, and ischaemia-driven revascularisation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Clots - Coagulation, Duke, Heart Disease, JACC / 09.08.2015

Connie N. Hess, MD, MHS Duke Clinical Research Institute Duke University Durham, North CarolinaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Connie N. Hess, MD, MHS Duke Clinical Research Institute Duke University Durham, North Carolina Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hess: Guidelines recommend the use of anticoagulation for thromboembolic prophylaxis in atrial fibrillation and also recommend use of dual antiplatelet therapy to reduce cardiovascular events after myocardial infarction and percutaneous coronary intervention.  The use of triple therapy in patients with indications for DAPT and anticoagulation is challenging due to the increased bleeding risk associated with this regimen.  The optimal antithrombotic regimen in this population has not yet been defined. This study specifically focused on older patients, a population that is at greater risk for Atrial Fibrillation-related stroke and recurrent events after MI but also higher risk for bleeding. Despite a growing population of older patients with indications for triple therapy, these patients have been underrepresented in clinical trials and are therefore understudied. We found that relative to DAPT, patients on triple therapy had a similar risk of 2-year major adverse cardiac events but a significantly increased risk of bleeding requiring hospitalization, including greater risk of intracranial hemorrhage. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Medicare, Outcomes & Safety / 05.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Philip G. Cotterill PhD Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Baltimore, MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cotterill: Chest pain is one of those elusive complaints where patients can seem initially low-risk based on symptoms or risk factors, and subsequently have an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) or die in a short period of time. Using combinations of history and physical examination findings to discriminate patients with serious causes of chest pain is often not possible. In our study, we demonstrated wide variation in the decision to hospitalize Medicare beneficiaries with chest pain – nearly two fold between the lowest (38%) and highest (81%) quintile of hospitals – and that patients treated in hospitals with higher admission rates for chest pain are less likely to have an acute myocardial infarction within 30-days of the index event and less likely to die. While the findings were statistically significant – differences in outcomes were small: 4 fewer AMIs and 3 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients comparing the highest and lowest admission quintiles. Stated differently, these numbers suggest that if low admitting hospitals were to behave more like high admitting hospitals, 250 patients would need to be admitted to prevent one AMI and 333 cases to prevent one death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Heart Disease / 02.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Sante D. Pierdomenico Associate Professor of Internal Medicine University "Gabriele d'Annunzio" Chieti-Pescara - Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Pierdomenico: Though a peak incidence of cardiovascular events in the morning has been observed, the independent prognostic value of morning surge (MS) of blood pressure (BP) is not yet clear. We investigated the association between morning surge of systolic blood pressure and risk of coronary events in elderly treated hypertensive patients. Subjects were divided according to tertiles of MS of systolic blood pressure of the population as a whole, by dipping status (nondippers are at increased risk than dippers) and by group-specific tertiles of morning surge of systolic blood pressure in dippers and nondippers because these groups have different MS of blood pressure. In elderly treated hypertensive patients, high MS of systolic BP predicts coronary events in dippers but not in nondippers. Nondippers, however, show higher risk of coronary events independently of morning surge in systolic blood pressure. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Pierdomenico: Blood pressure should be better controlled after awakening in dippers with high morning surge and during the night in nondippers in order to better prevent cardiovascular events. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, Johns Hopkins / 31.07.2015

Alan Cheng, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS Associate Professor of Medicine Associate Professor of Pediatrics Director, Arrhythmia Device Service Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alan Cheng, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics Director, Arrhythmia Device Service Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cheng: Sudden cardiac death (SCD) has been the most common way in which people in the United States die. While it's hard to accurately identify who is a higher risk for SCD, we have learned from a number of studies over the past 30-40 years that people with significant reductions in their heart function (measured as the ejection fraction (EF)) is one group of individuals at high risk for Sudden cardiac death. In fact, the current American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines state that people with an EF below 35% are at high enough risk for Sudden cardiac death that these patients should undergo implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (or ICD for short), a device capable of monitoring the heart 24/7 and shocking the heart out of any arrhythmias that could lead to Sudden cardiac death. The data they cite for this recommendation are so compelling that they currently recommend implanting ICDs in patients not only among those who already experienced an Sudden cardiac death event, but also those who have not. Implanting an ICD to prevent Sudden cardiac death before they have had Sudden cardiac death is known as primary prevention and this accounts for about 70-80% of all ICD implants in the United States. While the EF is the best metric out there to determine if a patient should get an ICD, it has its limitations. Because of these limitations, we have been interested for a long time in better understanding how the EF and other metrics affect a patient's risk for Sudden cardiac death. In this study, we followed 538 patients who were recipients of a primary prevention ICD who underwent repeat assessment of their EF during followup in order to determine if changes in their EF over time altered their risk for ICD shocks for ventricular arrhythmias or death. Over a median of almost 5 years of followup, we found that 40% of the cohort had improvements in their EF. And when the EF does improve, the risk goes down for ICD shocks for ventricular arrhythmias as well as for death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Geriatrics, Heart Disease, Surgical Research / 27.07.2015

Yigal Abramowitz, MD Cedars-Sinai Heart InstituteMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yigal Abramowitz, MD Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Abramowitz: The number of elderly patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis (AS) that require aortic valve replacement has been significantly increasing in recent years. However, a decade ago, third of the patients were not referred to surgery, in particular because of advanced age, and /or multiple comorbidities. TAVR has emerged as a treatment option for elderly inoperable or high-risk surgical patients with severe aortic stenosis. There is scarce evidence on the feasibility and safety of TAVR in very old patients. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Abramowitz: We compared 136 patients that were at least 90 years old at the time of TAVR (mean age: 92.4years) to 598 younger patients (mean age: 79.7years). Device success was excellent in both groups (96% for both). All-cause mortality at 30-days and 1-year was 2.9% and 12.5% vs. 2.8% and 12.3%  in patients aged ≥ 90 and ˂ 90, respectively. All major complication rates were similar between groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Heart Disease, PNAS, Rheumatology / 27.07.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Philippe Bouillet, PhD Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Parkville, Vic Australia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bouillet: This study was initiated when we discovered mice that developed rheumatoid arthritis as a result of what was obviously a spontaneous dominant genetic mutation. Using several approaches, we identified the mutation as the insertion of a mobile genetic element called retrotransposon into the regulatory sequences of the gene encoding tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The mutation caused excessive amounts of TNF to be produced, a known cause of rheumatoid arthritis. The surprise came when some mice with the mutation died prematurely and suddenly with from heart disease. We showed that excess TNF also led to inflammation of the aortic and mitral valves, causing aortic regurgitation. Depending on the genetic background of the mice, the disease could also culminate in aortic aneurysm and death. We also investigated the regulatory region of the TNF gene and identified novel regulators and a new genetic element that normally make sure that levels of serum TNF are kept within reasonable limits, high enough to ensure its numerous physiological functions, low enough to prevent its harmful effects such as those described here. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Heart Disease / 24.07.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Paraskevi Christofidou Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Cardiovascular Disease, Leicester UK MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Christofidou: Homozygosity arises when identical alleles are present on both chromosomes. Runs of homozygosity (ROHs) are very long segments of uninterrupted sequences of homozygous variants across the human genome. Runs of homozygosity represent "re-union" of pieces from DNA from parents in their children. The two DNA copies are identical because have been inherited from a common ancestor somewhere in the distant past. Runs of homozygosity are recognized signature of recessive inheritance, because they allow unmasking of recessive variants. Recessive variants only show their effect when present on both chromosomes of an individual's genome. Some of these ROHs may potentially harbor variants that exert their pathological effects in the homozygous recessive state. This is important because it helps us better understand the consequences of the recessive model of inheritance in relation to complex diseases. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a terminal clinical manifestation of cardiovascular disease and is the leading cause of death worldwide and is the UK's single biggest killer. Nearly one in six men and one in ten women die from CAD. Coronary artery disease is a complex, multifactorial disorder originating from a complicated interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors. Contributions of ROHs to the genetic architecture of CAD are not known. The primary goal of this project was a comprehensive analysis of association between genome-wide homozygosity measures and CAD in individuals of white European ancestry. A secondary aim was to explore the association of ROHs and gene expression in human monocytes and macrophages. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Christofidou: Our analysis of 24,320 individuals from 11 populations of white European ethnicity revealed statistically significant differences in homozygosity levels between individuals with Coronary artery disease and control subjects. On average, individuals with CAD had 0.63 ROHs more than control subjects. The average total length of ROHs was approximately 1046.92 kb greater in individuals with CAD than control subjects. We were able to qualify a measure of genome-wide homozygosity levels in relation to CAD - an estimated 13% increase in CAD per 1 standard deviation increase in the proportion of the autosomal genome covered by ROHs. Individual ROHs showed significant associations with monocyte and macrophage expression of genes located nearby. These associations suggest that many ROHs might be signatures of biologically active recessive variants with a potential to regulate transcription. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JCEM, University of Pittsburgh, Women's Heart Health / 24.07.2015

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H. Assistant professor Graduate School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology University of Pittsburgh MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H. Assistant professor Graduate School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology University of Pittsburgh Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. El Khoudary: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, and it increases after age 50 - the average age when a woman is going through menopause. Weight gain in women during and after menopause has long been attributed to aging, rather than menopause itself. However, recent research identified changes in body fat composition and distribution due to menopause-related hormonal fluctuations. No previous study had evaluated whether those changes in fat distribution during menopause affect cardiovascular fat. Increased and excess fat around the heart and vasculature can be more detrimental than abdominal fat, causing local inflammation and leading to heart disease. Doubling certain types of cardiovascular fat can lead to a more than 50 percent increase in coronary events. My team and I investigated whether there may be a link between menopause and cardiovascular fat using data from 456 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women averaged about 51 years of age and were not on hormone replacement therapy. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. El Khoudary: Our study is the first to find that  late- and post-menopausal women have significantly greater volumes of fat around their hearts than their pre-menopausal counterparts. As concentrations of the sex hormone estradiol - the most potent estrogen - declined during menopause, greater volumes of cardiovascular fat were found. The finding held even after my colleagues and I took into account the effects of age, race, obesity, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, medication use and chronic diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Heart Disease, Stroke / 23.07.2015

Dr. Jing Fang Ph.D. Epidemiologist Center For Disease ControlMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jing Fang Ph.D. Epidemiologist Center For Disease Control MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Fang: Although the effectiveness of aspirin for secondary prevention (e.g. people who already have coronary heart disease or have had an ischemic stroke) of cardiovascular disease has been determined, its prevalence as a preventive measure has varied widely across settings, data collection methods and U.S. states. As a result, we wanted to more closely examine aspirin use among U.S. adults with a history of coronary heart disease or stroke. To determine these findings, we analyzed data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Nearly 18,000 people from 20 states and the District of Columbia with a self-reported history of coronary heart disease or stroke were included in the annual telephone survey. Overall, we found about 70 percent of U.S. adults with heart disease or stroke reported regularly taking aspirin – meaning every day or every other day. Out of that group, nearly 94 percent said they take aspirin for heart attack prevention, about 80 percent linked it to stroke prevention efforts, and approximately 76 percent said they use it for both heart attack and stroke prevention. However, four percent of respondents with pre-existing cardiovascular problems said they take aspirin for pain relief without awareness of its benefits for cardiovascular disease. Aspirin use also differed by state and sociodemographic characteristics including gender, race/ethnicity and age. In general, men, non-Hispanic whites, individuals aged 65 and older, and people with at least two of four risk factors (hypertension, smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol) are more likely to use aspirin than other groups. By state, aspirin use ranged from 44 percent in Missouri to more than 71 percent in Mississippi. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 22.07.2015

Dr. Sumeet Chugh MD Pauline and Harold Price Professor of Cardiac Electrophysiology Associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart InstituteMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Sumeet Chugh MD Pauline and Harold Price Professor of Cardiac Electrophysiology Associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Research studies performed in the past 2 decades suggest that there is a higher burden of sudden cardiac arrest in black americans compared to whites. However there are no studies that explore the reasons for this phenomenon. Our study confirmed that these observations hold true in the current era. There are two additional novel findings. Firstly, we uncovered the disturbing fact that blacks are significantly younger than whites at the time of their cardiac arrest. The majority of blacks are under the age of 65 and the majority of whites were over 65. Furthermore, blacks who suffered sudden cardiac arrest were more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC / 22.07.2015

Dr. Jagat Narula MD, PhD Associate Dean For Global Affairs Professor Medicine, Cardiology and Radiology Mt. Sinai Hospital, NYMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jagat Narula MD, PhD Associate Dean For Global Affairs Professor Medicine, Cardiology and Radiology Mt. Sinai Hospital, NY Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. NarulaThe cardiovascular diseases remain number one cause of mortality in men and women and in high as well as middle and low income countries. It is important that we identify those who are likely to die of preventable causes. Identification of the vulnerable plaques that are likely to result in acute events has been an interesting focus of investigators, and numerous intravascular imaging and noninvasive imaging strategies have been employed. CT angiography has offered fairly attractive accuracy. We were the first to establish the features of high-risk plaques (Motoyama, Narula JACC 2007) and their short-term prognostic implications (Motoyama, Narula JACC 2009). In this new paper in a large population we present intermediate- to long-term follow-up that critically analyzes the role of plaque characterization and puts it in perspective. Should we keep chasing plaques or should we treat the patient? Does the answer lie in high risk plaque busting or prevention be the mainstay? From the previous studies from us and others we have known that computed tomography angiography (CTA)-based plaque characteristics identify high-risk plaque (HRP) that predict short-term risk of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We in this study wanted to evaluate whether plaque characteristics by CTA would predict intermediate- to long-term likelihood of acute events. The presence of high-risk plaque characteristics were evaluated in more than 3000 patients undergoing CTA and plaque progression (PP) in additional 450 patients who had two CTA one year apart. We recorded fatal and nonfatal acute events and outcomes during follow-up: mean about 4 years and maximum up to 10 years. Acute Coronary Syndrome occurred in about 40 of ~300 (16%) with high risk plaque and 40 (less than 1.5%) of the remaining patients with non high risk plaques. In patients with serial CTA, plaque progression also was an independent predictor of ACS, with HRP (27%) and without HRP (10%) compared with patients without plaque progression (0.3%). (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Education, Heart Disease, JAMA / 22.07.2015

Carolina Malta Hansen, M.D Duke Clinical Research InstituteMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carolina Malta Hansen, M.D Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hansen: Approximately 300,000 persons in the United States suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year and under 10% survive. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest can increase the chance of survival from under 10% to over 50%. In 2010, the HeartRescue program in North Carolina initiated statewide multifaceted interventions to improve care and outcomes for cardiac arrest patients in North Carolina. The project included public training programs in defibrillators and compression-only CPR at schools, hospitals and major events such as the N.C. State Fair, plus additional instruction for EMS and other emergency workers on optimal care for patients in cardiac arrest. We found that following these four years of initiatives to improve care and outcomes for cardiac arrest patients, the proportion of patients who received bystander CPR and first responder defibrillation increased by more than 25% to approximately 50%, the combination of bystander CPR and first responder defibrillation increased from 14% to 23%. Survival with favorable neurologic outcome increased from 7% to 10% and this increase was only observed among patients who received bystander CPR. Finally, we found that compared to patients who received CPR and defibrillation by emergency medical services (EMS), patients who received bystander and/or first responder CPR, defibrillation, or both, were more likely to survive. The combination of bystander CPR and bystander defibrillation was associated with the best survival rates but remained low during the study period with no increase over time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JACC, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research / 22.07.2015

Dr Scot Garg FRCP PhD (Hons) FESC Cardiology Department, Royal Blackburn Hospital United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Scot Garg FRCP PhD (Hons) FESC Cardiology Department, Royal Blackburn Hospital United Kingdom Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Garg: In contrast to other countries, in particular the United States, the UK has seen a vast expansion in the number of PCI centres operating without on-site surgical support. Part of the reason for this is that outcome data from these centres are from modest populations at short-term follow-up; consequently the ACC/AHA have failed to give delivery of PCI in centres without surgical back-up a strong endorsement. The study was ultimately driven therefore to show whether any differences existed in mortality between patients having PCI in centres with- and without surgical support at long-term follow-up in large unselected population cohort. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Garg: The study included the largest population of patients treated in centres without off-site surgical support (n=119,036) and main findings were that following multi-variate adjustment there were no differences in mortality for patients treated at centres with- or without surgical support at 30-days, 1-year or 5-year follow-up irrespective of whether patients were treated for stable angina, NSTEMI or STEMI. Furthermore, similar results were seen in a sensitivity analysis of a propensity matched cohort of 74,001 patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Heart Disease, McGill / 20.07.2015

Christopher Labos MD CM, MSc FRCPC Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health McGill University Montreal, Quebec CanadaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christopher Labos MD CM, MSc FRCPC Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health McGill University Montreal, Quebec Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There have been great advances in the field of genetics in recent years. Especially in cardiology, a number of genetic variants have been identified that are associated with cardiovascular disease. But it is not clear how useful these variants are in terms of predicting future evens in patients that have already suffered a myocardial infarction. What we found in our study is that a genetic risk score composed of the 30 most common genetic variants associated with cardiovascular diseases was not useful in predicting recurrent events in the first year after a patient suffered a myocardial infarction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Diabetes, Heart Disease, University of Michigan / 18.07.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Venkatesh L. Murthy, MD, PhD, FACC, FASNC University of MichiganVenkatesh L. Murthy, MD, PhD, FACC, FASNC University of Michigan Dr. Ravi Shah MD Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centerand Dr. Ravi Shah MD Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center   MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Response: Recent changes recommend statin therapy for cardiovascular risk reduction in an increasingly large number of Americans. Conversely, a number of studies have identified an increased risk of diabetes with statin treatment. Thus, there is increasing need for tools to target statin therapy to those with a favorable risk-benefit profile. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Response: In our study, we analyzed data from 3,153 individuals from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis who underwent CT scanning at baseline for assessment of calcium score. The CT scans were analyzed to assess liver attenuation as a measure of the amount of liver fat. We demonstrated that high liver fat doubled the risk of diabetes over a median of 9 years of follow-up. Importantly, statin therapy also doubled the risk of diabetes. The two together had an additive effect, even after adjusting for BMI, age, gender, family history of diabetes, waist circumference, lipids, hsCRP and exercise habits. As in prior studies, the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events increased with increasing calcium score, as has previously been shown in MESA and in other studies. We then divided the cohort into six groups based on calcium score (0, 1-100 and >100) and liver fat (low/high). Using published data from meta-analyses of statin trials, we computed the number needed to treat to prevent one hard CVD event for statin therapy. Using data from our study, we computed the number needed to harm to cause one additional case of diabetes from statin therapy. The numbers needed to treat with ranged from 29-40 for calcium score of >100 to 218-252 for calcium score of 0. Conversely, the numbers needed to harm were approximately 63-68 for those with low liver fat versus 22-24 for those with high liver fat. Thus the combination of calcium score and liver fat assessment, from a single standard calcium score scan, allows for physicians to provide better assessment of risk and benefit of statins in discussion with their patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Clots - Coagulation, Heart Disease, JACC / 17.07.2015

Prof. Johan Bosmans Interventional cardiologist University Hospital Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650, Edegem, BelgiumMedical Research Interview with: Prof. Johan Bosmans Interventional cardiologist University Hospital Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650, Edegem, Belgium MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Bosmans : Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has become standard of care for patients who cannot undergo surgery. With this, it is important to ensure that the risks associated with TAVR be fully understood, and if possible prevented. Even at this stage of the adoption of TAVR, large trials continue to provide information to the clinician about how to select the right patients to ensure the best possible outcomes. The ADVANCE Study is a prospective, multicenter study that evaluated the use of TAVR in 1015 patients at 44 experienced TAVR centers, which was designed to reflect routine clinical practice. We know that the risk of serious adverse events, such as stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), in post-TAVR patients can vary based on the timing before and after the procedure. A patient’s baseline demographics and medical history can affect their risk of procedure-related events as well as long-term outcomes. The manipulations required crossing the aortic valve and appropriately positioning any type of TAV has been thought to be related to procedural stroke events. Therefore, we performed a multivariable analysis looking for predictors of stroke – or stroke and TIA at 3 unique time periods (periprocedural, early and late) following TAVR. The most striking result from our analyses was that we were not able to identify any predictors of periprocedural (either during the procedure or on the day after) stroke, illustrating this very multifactorial etiology. We were able to show that being female, experiencing acute kidney injury or a major vascular complication positively predicted stroke during the early (2-30 days post procedure) time period. When we combined the outcome of stroke or TIA, we found that a history of prior atrial fibrillation (AF) was also a predictor. The only late predictor (day 31-730 post-procedure) of stroke was a history of coronary artery bypass grafting, which could reflect the patients’ risk of vascular disease. (more…)