Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Weight Research / 18.03.2015

Dr Rajeev Kumar Pathak MBBS, FRACP Cardiologist and Electrophysiology Fellow Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders | University of Adelaide Cardiovascular Investigation Unit | Royal Adelaide Hospital Adelaide AustraliaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Rajeev Kumar Pathak MBBS, FRACP Cardiologist and Electrophysiology Fellow Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders | University of Adelaide Cardiovascular Investigation Unit | Royal Adelaide Hospital Adelaide Australia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Obesity and atrial fibrillation (AF) are dual epidemics that frequently coexist. Weight-loss reduces atrial fibrillation burden; however, whether this is sustained, has a dose effect or is influenced by weight-fluctuation is not known. In this study we evaluated the  long-term impact of weight-loss and weight-fluctuation on rhythm control in obese individuals with atrial fibrillation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, JACC, Outcomes & Safety / 17.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Stephen W. Waldo, MD Research Fellow in Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Waldo: Public reporting is intended to improve outcomes for our patients.  Proponents of public reporting applaud the increased transparency that it offers, allowing both patients and physicians to objectively evaluate health care outcomes for a given institution or individual provider.  Previous research has demonstrated, however, that public reporting of procedural outcomes may create disincentives to provide percutaneous coronary intervention for critically ill patients.  The present study sought to evaluate the association between public reporting of outcomes with procedural management and clinical outcomes among patients with acute myocardial infarction.  As the data demonstrate, public reporting of outcomes is associated with a lower rate of percutaneous revascularization and increased overall in-hospital mortality among patients with an acute myocardial infarction, particularly among those that do not receive percutaneous intervention.  This may reflect risk aversion among physicians in states that participate in public reporting, an unintended consequence of this policy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, UCSD, Women's Heart Health / 17.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Raffaele Bugiardini, M.D. Professor of Cardiology University of Bologna Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bugiardini: Our analysis differs from previous reports of outcomes following STEMI because prior studies have not looked at sex differences in outcomes adjusted for time from symptom onset to hospital presentation and subsequent utilization of cardiac revascularization procedures, and rates of revascularization are typically significantly lower in women compared with men Our study is the first to look at the relationship between delays and outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Surgical Research / 17.03.2015

Marco Valgimigli, MD, PhD Erasmus MC, Thoraxcenter, Rotterdam  The NetherlandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marco Valgimigli, MD, PhD Erasmus MC, Thoraxcenter, Rotterdam  The Netherlands MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Valgimigli: Interventional cardiologists can choose between two entry sites in order to perform a diagnostic coronary angiography and or a percutaneous coronary intervention, namely an artery which is in the groin called femoral artery or an artery which is located in the wrist which is called radial artery. The latter is more superficial and has small calibre as compared to the former. Femoral artery is the entry site which is most frequently used in the world especially in US where the use of radial artery is relatively limited. Our study randomly allocated 8,404 patients to undergo diagnostic coronary angiography and PCI, if clinically indicated, either vie the femoral or the radial artery. The main results of our study are that radial access reduced the composite of net adverse clinical events driven by a reduction of mortality and of major bleeding, including transfusions and need for surgical repair or the entry site. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chocolate, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, JACC, UCLA, UCSD / 17.03.2015

Pam R. Taub, MD, FACC Assistant  Professor of Medicine UC San Diego Health System Division of Cardiology Encinitas, CA 92024MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pam R. Taub, MD, FACC Assistant  Professor of Medicine UC San Diego Health System Division of Cardiology Encinitas, CA 92024 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Taub: Epidemiological studies indicate that the consumption of modest amounts of dark chocolate (DC), which contains the natural cacao flavanol (-)-epicatechin (Epi,) is associated with reductions in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The health benefits of dark chocolate have been attributed to Epi. Clinical studies using cocoa and/or DC in normal volunteers or subjects with CVD have reported improvements in peripheral and coronary vascular endothelial function, blood pressure, lipids, insulin resistance, and inflammatory markers. The mechanism underlying these improvements is thought to be due to increased nitric oxide levels and improved endothelial function. We have also shown that capacity of Epi to favorable impact mitochondria under normal and disease states. We previously conducted pilot study in five patients with heart failure and type II diabetes, and showed that in skeletal muscle (SkM) biopsies there is a severe reduction in mitochondrial volume and cristae, as well as, in structural/functional proteins. After treatment with Epi rich dark chocolate , there was a significant recovery of SkM mitochondrial cristae, structural/functional proteins (e.g. mitofilin), as well as in regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis. However, no studies have examined the capacity of Epi rich dark chocolate to enhance exercise capacity in normal subjects and assess its impact on mitochondrial and oxidative control systems. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Taub: Seventeen subjects were randomized to placebo (n=8) or DC groups (n=9) and consumed 2 squares of chocolate (20 g, provided by Hershey) for 3 months. We showed in the chocolate group subjects had improved levels of HDL cholesterol and enhanced exercise capacity that is linked to the stimulation of SkM metabolic control endpoints which enhance mitochondrial function. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Diabetes, Heart Disease / 17.03.2015

Sameer Bansilal, MD, MS Asst. Prof.- Medicine and Cardiology Clinical Trials & Global Health Studies Icahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sameer Bansilal, MD, MS Asst. Prof.- Medicine and Cardiology Clinical Trials & Global Health Studies Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bansilal: Our group has previously published data from FREEDOM, COURAGE and BARI showing that adherence to recommended therapies are low in diabetic (DM) patients. We have spent the last decade developing a potential solution to this- the Fuster-Ferrer polypill. This study was done to better inform the association between levels of medication adherence and long term major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in high risk diabetic patients. We analyzed a U.S. health insurers’ claims data for 19,962 high risk diabetic subjects. Using proportion of days covered (PDC) for 1 year after first refill, we stratified patients as fully adherent (FA≥80%), partially adherent (PA ≥40- ≤79%) or non-adherent (NA <40%) and examined the associations with a primary cardiovascualr outcome measure of death, myocardial infarction, stroke and coronary revascularization. We found that only 34% participants were fully adherent to therapy. When compared to being non-adherent at 2 yrs follow up,, being fully adherent was associated with a 28% lower rate of MACE; being partially adherent was associated with a 21% lower rate of MACE. Efforts towards improving adherence in diabetic subjects may lead to substantial reductions in MACE. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Social Issues / 16.03.2015

Colleen K. McIlvennan, DNP, ANP Assistant Professor of Medicine University of Colorado, Division of Cardiology Section of Advanced Heart Failure and TransplantationMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Colleen K. McIlvennan, DNP, ANP Assistant Professor of Medicine University of Colorado, Division of Cardiology Section of Advanced Heart Failure and Transplantation Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Destination therapy left ventricular assist device (DT LVAD) patients are often older with significant comorbidities that preclude heart transplantation. As such, the decision to get a DT LVAD is arguably more complicated than the decision to receive a temporary LVAD in anticipation of a transplant. Centers offering LVADs often require the identification of a caregiver prior to proceeding with the implant. Caregivers are commonly female spouses of DT LVAD patients, who are also older with co-morbidities. Understanding their perspective in DT LVAD decision making is extremely important as they are at particular risk for experiencing stress and caregiver burden due to the increased demands on caregiving with DT LVAD. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We performed semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 caregivers: 10 caregivers of patients living with DT LVAD, 6 caregivers of patients who had died with DT LVAD, and 1 caregiver of a patient who had declined DT LVAD. Throughout the interviews, the overarching theme was that considering a DT LVAD is a complex decision-making process. Additionally, three dialectical tensions emerged: 1) the stark decision context, with tension between hope and reality; 2) the challenging decision process, with tension between wanting loved ones to live and wanting to respect loved ones’ wishes; and 3) the downstream decision outcome, with tension between gratitude and burden. (more…)
Author Interviews, CT Scanning, Heart Disease / 16.03.2015

Prof. David Newby British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology University of Edinburgh Director of the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research FacilityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. David Newby British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology University of Edinburgh Director of the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Newby: The diagnosis of angina (chest pain) due to coronary heart disease can be very challenging and we often get it wrong. We have a wide range of tests that can try and identify patients with angina due to coronary heart disease. However, even with these tests, we fail to identify 1 in 3 patients who go on to have heart attacks. So we need better tests. The study shows that if you add CTCA to a clinic consultation, you clarify the diagnosis in 1 in 4 patients, alter the investigations in 1 in 6 and change the subsequent treatments in 1 in 4. This did appear not only to increase the use of coronary revascularisation but also reduce the risk of subsequent heart attacks by 38-50%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cleveland Clinic, Heart Disease, Lancet, Surgical Research / 15.03.2015

Prof Samir R Kapadia MD Director, Sones Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories Cleveland Clinic Cleveland, OH For patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis (AS) who are not candidates for surgical valve replacement, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) offers superior benefit to standard therapy, as measured by all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, repeat hospital admission and functional status. PARTNER 1B 5 year data were published simultaneously with PARTNER 1A 5 year data in 2 separate manuscripts in the Lancet (March 15 2105). In this landmark trial, TAVR produced a 22 percent survival benefit and a 28 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, compared with standard treatment. According to Cleveland Clinic interventional cardiologist Samir Kapadia, MD, lead author of PARTNER 1B, these findings have changed the treatment paradigm for severe Aortic Stenosis patients who can’t undergo surgical Aortic Valve Replacement. “This trial is the first—and will probably be the only—randomized AS trial that includes a standard treatment group, since these results will make it unethical to treat severe AS patients with medical therapy alone without aortic valve replacement. ” he says. Superior survival benefit with TAVR PARTNER 1B is the only rigorous randomized trial of extreme-risk aortic stenosis patients that has prospectively reported the outcomes of TAVR versus standard treatment in patients for whom the estimated probability of death or serious irreversible morbidity after surgical aortic valve replacement was 50 percent or greater. The trial enrolled 358 patients between May 11, 2007 and March 16, 2009; 179 patients were assigned to TAVR with the first-generation Sapien valve and 179 to standard therapy which includes medical therapy and balloon aortic valvuloplasty. TAVR was performed under general anesthesia with common femoral artery access. Guidance was provided by transesophagel echocardiography and fluoroscopy. The mean age of participants was 83. The primary endpoint was all-cause survival. Secondary endpoints included cardiovascular mortality, stroke, vascular complications, major bleeding and functional status. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 15.03.2015

Ricardo Stein, MD, ScD Exercise Cardiology Research Group, Cardiology Division Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, RS, BrazilMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ricardo Stein, MD, ScD Exercise Cardiology Research Group, Cardiology Division Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Stein: Patients with a recent myocardial infarction (MI) present a reduction in functional capacity expressed as a decrease in peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak). The impact of a Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) cardiac rehabilitation program for patients recovering from recent MI has yet to be assessed. Our goal was to evaluate functional capacity after a TCC-based cardiac rehabilitation program in patients with recent non complicated MI. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Stein:  After the 12-week study period, participants in the Tai Chi Chuan group experienced a significant 14% increase in VOpeak from baseline (21.6 ± 5.2 to 24.6 ± 5.2 mL.Kg-1.min-1), whereas control participants had a non-significant 5% decline in VOpeak (20.4 ± 5.1 to 19.4 ± 4.4 mL.Kg-1.min-1). There was a significant difference between the two groups (P<0.0001). As a primary outcome, CPET results for the TCC and control groups at baseline and after the 12-week intervention period leading to a significant difference in peak VO2 (5.2 mL.Kg-1.min-1; 95% CI, 2.8 to 7.7, in favor to TCC group). This difference remained significant after adjustment to baseline measurements, age, gender, diabetes, and smoking (4.1 mL.Kg-1.min-1; 95% CI, 2.6 to 5.6, in favor to TCC group). Summarizing: -       We observed a significant increase in VO2 peak in TCC group participants. -       Our results provide important information data from a randomized clinical trial of Tai Chi Chuan in patients with a history of recent MI. -       Tai Chi Chuan can be an attractive alternative to cardiac rehabilitation for patients who don't have access to conventional cardiac rehabilitation programs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NEJM, Surgical Research / 15.03.2015

Barnaby C. Reeves, D.Phil. Professor of Health Services Research, Clinical Trials & Evaluation Unit School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol Bristol Royal Infirmary BristolMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Barnaby C. Reeves, D.Phil. Professor of Health Services Research, Clinical Trials & Evaluation Unit School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol Bristol Royal Infirmary Bristol Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Variable decisions are made about when to transfuse patients after cardiac surgery. The circumstances of particular patients influence decisions about whether to give a transfusion. Transfusion is a life-saving intervention when a patient is experiencing life-threatening bleeding but most patients have only one or two units of red cells transfused. These transfusions are given at varying levels of anaemia. Some doctors prefer to give a transfusion after cardiac surgery when a patient is only mildly anaemic, believing that the transfusion will promote recovery, while other doctors prefer to wait to transfuse until a patient is substantially anaemic, believing that a transfusion may do more good than harm and is wasteful if it is not needed. Therefore, we carried out a randomized controlled trial comparing restrictive (transfuse when haemoglobin <7.5 g/dL) and liberal transfusion thresholds (transfuse when haemoglobin <9.0 g/dL).* Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We obtained written informed consent before surgery but only randomized participants after surgery, in intensive care, if their Hb dropped below 9 g/dL. (Hence, we recruited over 3,500 patients but randomized only 2007.) This design avoids ‘diluting’ any difference between groups by including participants who would not usually be ‘considered’ for transfusion. The primary outcome was the occurrence of one or more serious complications: heart attack, stroke, acute kidney injury, bowel infarction, infection; this included/involved 35.1% of the patients in the restrictive-threshold group and 33.0% of the patients in the liberal-threshold group. This slight difference – more in the restrictive group – was not statistically significant. We then compared the percentages of patients who died; these were 4.2% in the restrictive group and 2.6% in the liberal group. The difference in this secondary outcome was of borderline statistical significance. Frequencies of other secondary outcomes (infections, ischaemic events, days in critical care and hospital, pulmonary complications) were not different in the two groups. We also carried out some pre-specified sensitivity analyses for the primary outcome and all-cause mortality. The two most important ones aimed to avoid dilution of the difference between groups as a result of patients having transfusions or outcome events before randomization. Excluding patients who were transfused before randomization shifted the treatment effect to favour the liberal threshold more strongly, for both the primary outcome and mortality. Excluding patients who experienced an outcome event in the first 24 hours after randomization did not change the treatment effect for either outcome. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Heart Disease, JAMA, Lipids, Statins / 11.03.2015

Joost Besseling PhD-student Academic Medical Center Dept. of Vascular Medicine AmsterdamMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joost Besseling PhD-student Academic Medical Center Dept. of Vascular Medicine Amsterdam Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Statins are associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). The exact mechanism for this adverse event is largely unknown, although the upregulation of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) has been suggested to play a role. In familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) the uptake of LDL-cholesterol via the LDLR is decreased due to a genetic defect. We found that the prevalence of type 2 DM is 50% lower in relative terms in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia. Moreover, there was a dose-response relationship: the more severe the genetic defect that causes familial hypercholesterolemia, the lower the prevalence of type 2 DM. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Heart Disease, Kidney Disease / 11.03.2015

Dr. Borja Quiroga MD Ph.D. Nephrology Unit, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón Madrid, SpainMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Borja Quiroga MD Ph.D. Nephrology Unit, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón Madrid, Spain Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Quiroga: Chronic kidney disease patients are at high-risk for the development of cardiovascular events. Although several strategies have been tried for identifying those patients with poorer prognosis, no one has demonstrated by itself being the best one. This could be explained by the fact that several factors are implied in the cardiovascular profile of  chronic kidney disease patients. With this background, in our study we hypothesized if differences in the interarm systolic blood pressure could detect patients with enhanced cardiovascular risk early, and, consequently therapies could be initiated. Our results provide interesting data on this regard, as we have concluded that an interarm systolic blood pressure difference higher that 10 mmHg is an independent prognosis factor for cardiovascular events. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Mayo Clinic, Outcomes & Safety / 11.03.2015

Dr. Leslie CurryMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Leslie Curry PhD, MPH Senior Research Scientist in and Lecturer in Public Health (Health Policy) Co-Director, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program Yale School of Public Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Curry: Quality of care for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) has improved substantially in recent years due to important investments by clinicians and policymakers; however, survival rates across U.S. Hospitals still differ greatly. Evidence suggests links between hospital organizational culture and hospital performance in care of patients with AMI. Yet few studies have attempted to shift organizational culture in order to improve performance, fewer have focused on patient outcomes, and none have addressed mortality for patients with acute myocardial infarction.  We sought to address this gap through a novel longitudinal intervention study, Leadership Saves Lives (LSL). We have a large team of people with backgrounds in nursing, medicine, health care administration and research working in 10 very diverse hospitals across the country in 10 states. All hospitals are members of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and are fully committed to saving lives of patients with heart attacks. Teams of 10-12 clinicians and administrators are devoting substantial energy, expertise and good will to this project. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Outcomes & Safety / 11.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Harindra C. Wijeysundera MD PhD FRCPC Interventional Cardiology, Schulich Heart Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine & Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation University of Toronto Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Toronto, ON, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wijeysundera: Given the rapid increase in health care costs, there has been growing emphasis on the more rational use of resources.  One such effort is the development of appropriate use  criteria.  Such criteria have been developed in many areas of medicine, including in cardiology for diagnostic angiography.  The underlying rationale for a test to be appropriate is that its anticipated benefit outweighs its anticipated harms.  However, there is a paucity of empirical evidence validating this conceptual framework. Our goal was to validate the 2012 appropriate use criteria for diagnostic coronary angiography, by examining the relationship between the appropriateness of a coronary angiography in patients with suspected stable ischemic heart disease and the proportion of patients who were found to have obstructive coronary artery disease.  We used data obtained from the Cardiac Care Network registry of Ontario, Canada.  This is a population based registry of all cardiac procedures in the province of Ontario.  We examined 48,336 patients and found that 58.2% of angiographic studies were classified as appropriate, 10.8% were classified as inappropriate, and 31.0% were classified as uncertain. Overall, 45.5% of patients had obstructive CAD. In patients with appropriate indications for angiography, 52.9% had obstructive CAD, with 40.0% undergoing revascularization. In those with inappropriate indications, 30.9% had obstructive CAD and 18.9% underwent revascularization; in those with uncertain indications, 36.7% had obstructive CAD and 25.9% had revascularization. Although more patients with appropriate indications had obstructive CAD and underwent revascularization (P < 0.001), a substantial proportion of those with inappropriate or uncertain indications had important coronary disease.  Our conclusion was that despite the association between appropriateness category and obstructive CAD, this study raises concerns about the ability of the appropriate use  criteria to guide clinical decision making. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 10.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:Elaine W. Yu, MD, MMSc Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Massachusetts General Hospital  MGH Endocrine Unit Elaine W. Yu, MD, MMSc Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Massachusetts General Hospital MGH Endocrine Unit Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yu: It is well known that cardiovascular disease is more common in men than in women.  The exact reasons for this are unknown, but may be related to gender differences in levels of sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.  As compared to premenopausal women, men have higher testosterone and lower estrogen levels.  It is currently unclear whether the actions of testosterone and/or estrogen affect cardiovascular risk factors. In this study, we explored the regulation of cardiovascular risk factors by testosterone and estrogen in men. We found that higher levels of testosterone led to lower HDL levels (“good” cholesterol), whereas estrogen did not regulate HDL.  In contrast, low levels of estrogen led to worsening insulin resistance and increased muscle fat, markers for developing diabetes.  Importantly, LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol”) was not affected by either testosterone or estrogen in men.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Heart Disease, Statins / 07.03.2015

Heidi May, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. Cardiovascular Epidemiologist Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Salt Lake CityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Heidi May, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. Cardiovascular Epidemiologist Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Salt Lake City   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Heidi May: Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Statin therapy is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease incidence through the reduction of blood cholesterol levels and through its pleiotropic cardioprotective properties. Depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It has been recommended that antidepressant medications should be considered first-line treatment for depression of any severity. We hypothesized that taking both statins and antidepressants would reduce cardiovascular risk more than either medication alone. However, we did not find this. Instead we found that the effectiveness of antidepressants and statin therapy to reduce death and incident cardiovascular disease at 3 years varied by the severity of depressive symptoms. Among those with none to mild depressive symptoms, statin use, with or without antidepressant therapy, was associated with a decrease in risk, but among those with moderate to severe depression, antidepressant use was associated with a decrease in risk. The combination of antidepressant and statin use did not result in a greater risk reduction in either depressive symptom category. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Social Issues / 06.03.2015

Randy Cohen, MD, MS, FACC Division of Cardiology Mt. Sinai St. Luke's Hospital New York, NYMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Randy Cohen, MD, MS, FACC Division of Cardiology Mt. Sinai St. Luke's Hospital New York, NY MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cohen: Psychosocial conditions such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress and social isolation have strong associations with heart disease and mortality. Recently, however, attention has focused on positive emotions, psychological health and their collective impact on overall health and well-being.   Purpose in life is considered a basic psychological need, and has been defined as a sense of meaning and direction in one’s life which gives the feeling that life is worth living. We performed a meta-analysis of prospective studies evaluating the relationship between having a sense of purpose in life, mortality and cardiovascular disease. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Cohen: We identified 10 prospective studies involving over 137,000 subjects and found that possessing a sense of purpose in life was associated with a 23% reduced risk for all-cause mortality and a 19% reduced risk for cardiovascular disease events. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Menopause, University of Pittsburgh, Women's Heart Health / 06.03.2015

Dr. Rebecca Clark Thurston Ph.D Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science University of PittsburghMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Rebecca Clark Thurston Ph.D Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science University of Pittsburgh   MedicalResearch: What is the background for these studies? What are the main findings? Dr. Clark Thurston: The understanding of women’s cardiovascular disease and the role that reproductive factors play in women’s cardiovascular health is evolving. There are some studies showing links between menopausal hot flashes and cardiovascular disease risk in women. These studies help further refine this understanding. We showed in two separate studies that women who have hot flashes, particularly frequent hot flashes early in midlife, have poorer vascular health on certain indices. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease / 05.03.2015

Prof. Scott Montgomery Prof. Montgomery is a clinical epidemiologist, conducting research in life-course influences on chronic disease risk Örebro UniveristyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Scott Montgomery Prof. Montgomery is a clinical epidemiologist, conducting research in life-course influences on chronic disease risk Örebro Univeristy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Montgomery: Stress is thought to increase the risk of heart disease. However, an experience that is stressful for one person may not be so for another, as stress resilience varies. As we believe that stress resilience is influenced by childhood experiences, we examined whether teenagers with low stress resilience were more likely to have coronary heart disease in subsequent adulthood (they were followed to a maximum age of 58 years). In this study of 237,980 men, we found that low stress resilience in adolescence was associated with a raised risk of heart disease. A surprising result was that although higher levels of fitness in adolescence were associated with lower heart disease risk, the benefit of such fitness, in terms of heart disease risk, was not present in the men with low stress resilience. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Nutrition / 05.03.2015

Luc Djousse, MD, ScD, FAHA Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Editor-in-Chief, Current Nutrition Reports Director of Research, Division of Aging Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02120MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Luc Djousse, MD, ScD, FAHA Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Editor-in-Chief, Current Nutrition Reports Director of Research, Division of Aging Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02120 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Djousse: While some studies have reported a higher risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure with frequent consumption of fried foods, other investigators did not confirm those results. To date, only few studies have evaluated whether frequent consumption of fried foods can raise the risk of developing heart failure. Frying foods not only increases the energy density of foods, but also increase the amount of trans fats. Trans fats can lead to development of heart disease and diabetes and consumption of energy-dense foods in large quantity can lead to weight gain and resulting cardiovascular consequences. We followed about 15000 US male physicians who were free of heart failure for an average of 10 years and found that frequent consumption of fried foods was related to a higher risk of developing heart failure. For example, people that consumed fried foods daily or more were twice more likely to develop heart failure than individuals who consumed fried foods less than once per week. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Wake Forest / 05.03.2015

Simon A. Mahler MD, MS, FACEP Associate Professor Department of Emergency Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine Winston-Salem NC 27157MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Simon A. Mahler MD, MS, FACEP Associate Professor Department of Emergency Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine Winston-Salem NC 27157 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Mahler: Care patterns for patients with acute chest pain are inefficient. Most patients presenting to US Emergency Departments (ED) with chest pain, including those at low-risk for acute coronary syndrome (ACS), are hospitalized for comprehensive cardiac testing. These evaluations cost the US health system $10-13 billion annually, but have a diagnostic yield for ACS of <10%. American College of Cardiology/ American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guidelines recommend that low-risk patients with acute chest pain should receive serial cardiac markers followed by objective cardiac testing (stress testing or cardiac imaging). However, guideline adherent care among low-risk patients fails to accurately focus health system resources on those likely to benefit. Among low-risk patients, who have acute coronary syndrome rates less than 2%, objective cardiac testing  is associated with a substantial number of false positive and non-diagnostic tests, which often lead to invasive testing. Consensus is building within the US health care system regarding the need to more efficiently evaluate patients with acute chest pain. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Mahler: Patients randomized to the HEART Pathway were less likely to receive stress testing or angiography within 30 days than patients in the usual care arm (an absolute reduction of 12%. P=0.048). Early discharge (discharges from the ED without stress testing or angiography) occurred in 39.7% of patients in the HEART Pathway arm compared to 18.4%: an absolute increase of 21.3% (p<0.001). Patients in the HEART Pathway group had a median LOS of 9.9 hours compared to 21.9 hours in the usual care group: a median reduction in LOS of 12 hours (p=0.013). These reductions in utilization outcomes were accomplished without missing adverse cardiac events or increasing cardiac-related ED visits or non-index hospitalizations. The HEART Pathway, which combines the HEART score, with 0- and 3-hour cardiac troponin tests, is an accelerated diagnostic protocol (ADP), which may improve the value of chest pain care by identify patients who can safely be discharged from the ED without stress testing or angiography. Observational studies have demonstrated that the HEART Pathway can classify >20% of patients with acute chest pain for early discharge while maintaining a negative predictive value (NPV) for major adverse cardiac event (MACE) rate of greater than 99% at 30 days. However, prior to this study the real-time use of the HEART Pathway had never been compared with usual care. Therefore, we designed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of the HEART Pathway to guide providers’ testing and disposition decisions for patients with acute chest pain. The hypothesis was that the HEART Pathway would meaningfully reduce objective cardiac testing, increase early discharges, and reduce index hospital length of stay compared to usual care while maintaining high sensitivity and NPV (>99%) for MACE. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 04.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joo-Yong Hahn, MD, PhD Associate Professor Heart Vascular Stroke Institute, Samsung Medical Center Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In the Effects of Postconditioning on Myocardial Reperfusion in Patients with ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (POST) trial, ischemic postconditioning failed to improve myocardial reperfusion (Hahn JY et al. Circulation 2013;128:1889-96) . However, long-term effects of ischemic postconditioning on clinical outcomes are not known in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the long-term effects of ischemic postconditioning on clinical outcomes. In this prospective, randomized trial, ischemic postconditioning with primary percutaneous coronary intervention  (PCI) did not improve clinical outcomes compared with conventional primary PCI in patients with STEMI. There was no significant difference in a composite of death, myocardial infarction, severe heart failure, or stent thrombosis between the 2 groups. Beneficial effects of ischemic postconditioning were not found in any of various subgroups. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, End of Life Care, Heart Disease / 04.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Dr. med. Paul Erne AMIS Plus Data Center, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute University of Zurich Department of Cardiology Clinic St. Anna, Lucerne and University Hospital Zurich Zurich, SwitzerlandProf. Dr. med. Paul Erne AMIS Plus Data Center, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute University of Zurich Department of Cardiology Clinic St. Anna, Lucerne and University Hospital Zurich Zurich, Switzerland MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Erne: Very little is known on this important subgroup of patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) at admission who for various reasons receive restricted or palliative treatment only. Reasons for withholding comprehensive and/or invasive therapy may be the very limited life expectancy, advanced age or severe comorbidities. These patients are not represented in prospective trials and often not included in outcome statistics and registries. This study provides evidence that the population which received palliative therapy is older and sicker when compared to patients who underwent conservative or reperfusion treatment. However, this study shows that these decisions are very individually addressed. Acute Coronary Syndrome patients treated palliatively were older, sicker, with more heart failure at admission and very high in-hospital mortality. Changes of treatment decisions over time and the proportion of patients surviving 1 year suggest in part non homogenous and potentially questionable decision criteria. While refraining from more active therapy may be the most humane and appropriate approach in many patients, in others it represents under treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Nutrition / 03.03.2015

Xiao-ou Shu M.D., MPH, Ph.D Associate Director of Global Health Co-Leader, Cancer Epidemiology Research Program Ingram Professor of Cancer Research Professor of Medicine (Epidemiology) Cancer EpidemiologistMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Xiao-ou Shu M.D., MPH, Ph.D Associate Director of Global Health Co-Leader, Cancer Epidemiology Research Program Ingram Professor of Cancer Research Professor of Medicine (Epidemiology) Cancer Epidemiologist MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shu: Nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants, arginine, and other phytochemicals. These are all known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, probably through their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and endothelial function maintenance properties.   Previous studies, primarily conducted in white and affluent populations, have shown that nut consumption may be related to cardiovascular health. Much of the nut consumption in those populations would be tree nuts. In our study, we found that peanut consumption was associated with reduced total mortality and CVD mortality in a predominantly low-income black and white population in the US, and among Chinese men and women living in Shanghai. Because peanuts are much less expensive than tree nuts, as well as more widely available to people of all races and all socioeconomic backgrounds, increasing peanut consumption may provide a potentially cost-efficient approach to improving cardiovascular health. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Cost of Health Care, Erectile Dysfunction, Heart Disease / 03.03.2015

Alexander W. Pastuszak, MD, PhD Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Scott Department of Urology Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alexander W. Pastuszak, MD, PhD Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Scott Department of Urology Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Pastuszak: The link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been growing stronger in recent years, and recommendations have recently been made to screen men with ED for CVD risk factors.  The arteries in the penis are much smaller than those in the heart, and if vascular disease contributes to ED, which we know it does, then ED should be detected before CVD in affected men.  We also know that treating men with CVD risk factors results in improvement in their risk of having acute cardiovascular events (i.e. heart attack, stroke, etc.).  Because of these relationships, we wanted to assess the economic impact of screening men with erectile dysfunction for CVD, identifying men with CVD risk factors, and treating these men on the incidence of cardiovascular events and new cases of ED.  Specifically, we wanted to look at the costs associated with screening and treatment of CVD and erectile dysfunction, and the cost savings resulting from screening and treating men with CVD risk factors and ED when preventing acute cardiovascular events. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Pastuszak: We modeled the reduction in acute cardiovascular events and the associated cost savings over 20 years.  We predicted that approximately 5.8 million men with both CVD and ED would be identified over 20 years if we screened men with ED for CVD risk factors, and the cost of this screening would be $2.7 billion.  We assumed that if we treated these at-risk men, there would be an approximately 20% decrease in cardiovascular events, which would prevent 1.1 million cardiovascular events over 20 years, saving $21.3 billion that would otherwise be put to treatment of these acute events.  Since ED and CVD arise from the same pathology, we predicted that in treating the CVD risk factors, a similar decrease in ED cases would be seen as well, which would save $9.7 billion that would otherwise be put to ED treatment.  In screening these men, a combined $28.5 billion would be saved over 20 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, Women's Heart Health / 03.03.2015

Saskia Haitjema MD PhD candidate Division Heart and Lung, Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology University Medical Center UtrechtMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Saskia Haitjema MD PhD candidate Division Heart and Lung, Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology University Medical Center Utrecht Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although cardiovascular diseases are often considered a disease of men, more women than men die each year of cardiovascular diseases. Sex-differences are increasingly being researched and acknowledged. For treatment and prognosis of coronary artery disease, however, many discrepancies exist between studies that investigated sex-differences. For example, it remains unclear whether the observed differences in the outcome after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) are due to a different risk burden between men and women or whether female sex is an independent risk factor. In a group of 2553 patients followed up during a median of 2.5 years after CABG we found an increased risk for worse outcome in women versus men. We found a strong indication for female sex as an independent risk factor, but lacked power to definitively prove th (more…)