AHA Journals, Author Interviews, NEJM, Surgical Research / 18.02.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. William A Gray, MD Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Disease Main Line Health President of Main Line Health’s Lankenau Heart Institute  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gray: The basis for this study was two-fold: the ACST-1 trial had shown, in asymptomatic patients with severe carotid disease, that immediate Carotid Endarterectomy reduced subsequent stroke as compared to deferred Carotid Endarterectomy---so the next logical question was, could Carotid Artery Stenting (CAS) compare as an equal alternative to Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA) in this same, standard risk, population with severe carotid stenosis. The CREST trial, as originally constructed and at the time ACT 1 was conceived did not include this population (although it later expanded to encompass asymptomatic patients as well), so it was an open question. The second reason had to do with Abbott Vascular, the study sponsor, achieving FDA regulatory approval for their stent system in this population---as well as in the symptomatic population being studied n CREST (which they were also the device sponsor). The main findings were that the primary endpoint of death/stroke and MI at 30 days plus ipsilateral stroke out to 1 and 5 years was not different between CAS and CEA in asymptomatic patients with severe carotid stenosis on good medical secondary prevention therapy. (more…)
AHA Journals, Asthma, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease / 15.02.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Guo-Ping Shi, ScD and Dr. Cong-Lin Liu Cardiovascular Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston, MA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Abdominal aortic aneurysm (commonly called AAA) is an aortic disease that affects 1~5% men above 50, depending on the countries and regions. There is currently no effective medication or prevention besides surgical repair. Fast growth or unstable AAA often leads to aortic rupture and sudden death. Although ultrasound can be used to monitor the size and growth of AAA, our current annual health examination system in the US does not include this service. We report that mast cells are essential to AAA (J Clin Invest. 2007;117:3359-68). These cells are predominant immune cells in allergic asthmatic lungs from humans and experimental animals. Plasma immunoglobulin E (IgE) level elevation is also a signature of allergic asthma. We report that IgE contributes to experimental AAA by activating mast cells, as well as other immune cells such as macrophages and T cells (EMBO Mol Med. 2014;6:952-69). Direct evidence from our recent study demonstrates that production of allergic asthma in mice doubles the AAA sizes in experimental mice (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016;36:69-77). All these prior studies suggest a role of allergic asthma to the pathogenesis of AAA. In this human population-based nationwide case-control study (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print]), we reported two major findings: First, among 15,942 Danish AAA patients selected from 1996 to 2012, compared to those who did not have asthma, patients who had hospital-diagnosed asthma within the past 12 months had 60% more risk to experience aortic rupture, and those who had hospital-diagnosed asthma within the past 6 months had greater than 100% more risk to experience aortic rupture. Further, patients who received anti-asthmatic treatment, as evidence of asthma, also had 20~50% more risk of experiencing aortic rupture than those who did not have record of anti-asthmatic treatment, depending on how recent the patients received the treatments. Second, among a general men population aged from 65 to 74, patients who used bronchodilating drugs to treat asthma or reversible obstructive pulmonary disease had 45% more risk to have AAA compared with those who never used bronchodilators. This risk was not affected by smoking or other major AAA risk factors. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, NIH, Nutrition, Sugar, Weight Research / 12.01.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Caroline Fox, MD MPH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Fox: There is evidence linking sugar sweetened beverages with obesity and type 2 diabetes. There is also evidence suggesting that specific adipose tissue depots may play a role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. We found that higher levels of sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) intake was associated with more visceral fat (fat in the stomach cavity) over 6 years. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Frailty, Geriatrics, Heart Disease, Johns Hopkins / 10.01.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ariel R. Green, M.D., M.P.H Assistant Professor of Medicine Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are widely used to prevent sudden cardiac death in patients with systolic heart failure. Older adults with heart failure often have multiple coexisting conditions and are frail, increasing their risk of death from non-cardiac causes. Our understanding of outcomes in older patients with ICDs is limited. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Response: Our major finding was that more than 10% of patients currently receiving ICDs for primary prevention of sudden cardiac death (meaning that they have never had a potentially lethal arrhythmia but are at risk for one, usually due to systolic heart failure) are frail or have dementia.​ Patients with these geriatric conditions had substantially  higher mortality within the first year after ICD implantation than those without these conditions. Frailty and dementia were more strongly associated with mortality than were traditional comorbidities such as diabetes. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Education, Heart Disease, Stroke / 23.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carole Decker, RN, PhD, CPHQ, FAHA Director, Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute Kansas City, MO 64111 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Decker: Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death. The utilization of thrombolytic therapy is the national standard of care for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) treatment resulting in improved outcomes at 90 days and yet only 7% of patients with AIS receive a thrombolytic. The American College of Emergency Physicians emphasizes the importance of using a shared medical decision-making model with AIS patients and their caregivers to discuss benefits and risks of treatment. The recommended door-to-needle (emergency door to thrombolytic administration) is 60 minutes to achieve the optimal patient outcomes which can be problematic in that conversation on benefits and risks occurs in a hurried emergency setting. Multiple risk models to identify individualized benefits and risks of thrombolytic therapy have been developed but few are used prospectively and are not used at the point of care. Our team created ePRISM (Personalized Risk Information Services Manager), a Web-based tool, to generate personalized documents with patient-specific outcomes based on validated risks models. To support knowledge transfer and creation of a shared decision-making tool, our multidisciplinary team conducted qualitative interviews to define the information needs and preferred presentation format for stroke survivors, caregivers, and clinicians considering thrombolytic treatment. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Stroke / 19.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Thomas Bak Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh and Dr. Suvarna Alladi Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, India Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In a previous study published in 2013 (attached) we have reported that bilingual patients develop dementia around 4 years later than monolingual ones - a phenomenon, which we tried to explain in a commentary in 2014 (also attached); the mechanism we have postulated as a possible explanation is so called "cognitive reserve": the ability of the brain, boosted by a range of different mental activities, to cope better with potential damage. One manifestation of it has been now described in several studies: bilingual patients seem to develop dementia later than monolingual ones. But if the cognitive reserve helps in coping with brain damage, it should also help with the recovery after stroke. This was exactly what we set out to examine and exactly what we found. Bilingual patients showed a complete recovery of cognitive functions after stroke over twice as often as monolingual ones (40/5% vs. 19.6%). (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Duke, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, Social Issues / 18.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lauren Cooper, MD Fellow in Cardiovascular Diseases Duke University Medical Center Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cooper: The HF-ACTION study, published in 2009, showed that exercise training is associated with reduced risk of death or hospitalization, and is a safe and effective therapy for patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction. Subsequently, Medicare began to cover cardiac rehabilitation for patients with heart failure. However, many patients referred to an exercise training program are not fully adherent to the program. Our study looked at psychosocial reasons that may impact participation in an exercise program. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Cooper: We found that patients with higher levels of social support and fewer barriers to exercise exercised more than patients with lower levels of social support and more barriers to exercise. And patients who exercised less had a higher risk of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization compared to patients who exercised more. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 14.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Susan Marzolini, R.Kin, PhD Scientific Associate, TRI-REPS Supervisor Toronto Rehab/UHN Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Marzolini: Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a leading revascularization procedure for treating coronary artery disease. Despite effective revascularization, cardiovascular risk factor control through intensive lifestyle and pharmacological treatment is essential to prevent graft deterioration and progression of atherosclerosis following surgery. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs offer structured exercise, education, interdisciplinary support, counselling, and risk reduction to promote secondary prevention. These programs have been shown to improve fitness, psychosocial well-being, and significantly reduce morbidity and mortality after CABG surgery. However, while Canadian and international guidelines endorse “early” referral to CR post-cardiac event, actual practice is variable and delays are common_ENREF_9_ENREF_9_ENREF_7. Delayed entry is of concern, as there is emerging evidence that later referral and initiation of cardiac rehabilitation is associated with negative consequences on cardiovascular fitness, however this has not been examined in the post-CABG population. Therefore, we conducted a retrospective analysis of 6497 consecutively enrolled post CABG participants in a single cardiac rehabilitation program in Toronto, Canada from January 1995 to October 2012. Our objective was to examine the effects of later entry on CR outcomes (i.e., CR use, anthropometrics, and functional capacity) while accounting for demographic, environmental, and physiological correlates of longer wait-time. We found that longer wait-time to start a cardiac rehabilitation program was associated with poorer outcomes including less improvement in cardiopulmonary fitness and lower program attendance, which have been shown to confer a mortality disadvantage. Longer wait time was also associated with less improvement in body fat percentage as well as poorer completion rates. We identified that bypass patients predisposed to longer wait times, and subsequently poorer participation and outcomes, are women, those who are older, from a lower socioeconomic neighborhood, people with a more complex medical history, who are employed, have a longer drive-time to cardiac rehabilitation, and people with less social support. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, McGill, Stroke / 14.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sophie Vincent, Medical Student McGill University and Kristian Filion, PhD FAHA Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Clinical Epidemiology Jewish General Hospital/McGill University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with carotid atherosclerosis causing vascular stenosis are at increased risk of stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in the United States and in Canada. Carotid artery stenting and carotid endarterectomy are the primary surgical options for the treatment of carotid stenosis. With the assumption that an endovascular approach would offer a more favorable safety profile than open surgical procedure, the use of stenting increased significantly following its entry into the market in the 1990s. However, despite this observed increase in use, the long-term safety and efficacy of stenting relative to endarterectomy remained unclear, which is why we decided to conduct this study. Although carotid artery stenting has more favorable periprocedural outcomes with respect to myocardial infarction, hematoma, and cranial nerve palsy, the observed increased risk of stroke throughout follow-up with stenting suggests that endarterectomy remains the treatment of choice for the management of carotid stenosis. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease / 12.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carrie C. Lubitz, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School Senior Scientist, Institute for Technology Assessment Attending Surgeon, Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care Danvers, Massachusetts Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lubitz: Given reported estimates of resistant hypertension and the proportion of resistant hypertensive patients  with primary hyperaldosteronism (PA) - the most common form of secondary hypertension caused by a nodule or hyperplasia of the adrenal glands – we estimate over a million Americans have undiagnosed PA. Furthermore, it has been shown that patients with PA with the same blood pressure as comparable patients with primary hypertension have worse outcomes. In our study, we found that identifying and appropriately treating patients with PA can improve long-term outcomes in patients in a large number of patients who have resistant hypertension. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Duke, Education, Gender Differences, Heart Disease / 10.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, FASE, FAHA Ursula Geller Professor of Research in Cardiovascular Disease Duke University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Douglas: The impetus for our study was the concern that cardiology as a profession might be enhanced by greater diversity. By not attracting women in larger numbers (9% of FACCs are female), our fellowships have incomplete access to the talent pool of outstanding residents, and we do not have a diverse group of clinicians to care for our increasingly diverse patient population, or of researchers to explore potentially important health care disparities. Our findings were twofold: first, job descriptions for men and women cardiologists are dramatically different. Men are much more likely to do invasive procedures while women are more likely to see patients and perform imaging/noninvasive tests.  While there were slightly more women working part time than men this was still rare, and the difference in number of days worked was just 6, across an entire year. The second finding was that there was a significant difference in compensation. Unadjusted, this was over $110, 000 per year; after very robust adjustment using over 100  personal, practice, job description and productivity measures, the difference was $37, 000 per year, or over a million dollars across a career. A separate independent economic analysis of wage differentials yield a similar difference of $32,000 per year. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Duke, Outcomes & Safety, Stroke, Surgical Research / 04.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Soko Setoguchi-Iwata, M.D MPH Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Medicine Duke Clinical Research Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Setoguchi: Medicare made a decision to cover Carotid Artery Stenting (CAS) in 2005 after publication of SAPPHIRE, which demonstrated the efficacy of Carotid Artery Stenting vs Carotid Endarterectomy in high risk patients for CEA. Despite the data showing increased carotid artery stenting dissemination following the 2005 National Coverage Determination, peri-procedural and long-term outcomes have not been described among Medicare beneficiaries, who are quite different from trial patients, older and with more comorbidities in general population. Understanding the outcomes in these population is particularly important in the light of more recent study, the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy versus Stenting Trial (CREST), which established CAS as a safe and efficacious alternative to CEA among non-high-surgical risk patients that also expanded the clinical indication of carotid artery stenting. Another motivation to study ‘real world outcomes in the general population is expected differences in the proficiency of physicians performing stenting in trial setting vs. real world practice setting. SAPPHIRE and CREST physicians were enrolled only after having demonstrated  Carotid Artery Stenting proficiency with low complication rates whereas hands-on experience and patient outcomes among real-world physicians and hospitals is likely to be more diverse. We found that unadjusted mortality risks over study period of 5 years with an mean of 2 years of follow-up in our population was 32%.  Much higher mortality risks observed among certain subgroups with older age, symptomatic patients and non-elective hospitalizations.   (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Electronic Records, Heart Disease / 30.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jonathan R. Enriquez, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology University of Missouri- Kansas City Director, Coronary Care Unit Truman Medical Center  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Enriquez:  
  • In 2009, U.S. legislation appropriated tens of billions of dollars to promote the use of electronic health records (EHRs).
  • Approximately 4 million hospitalizations for cardiovascular diagnoses occur annually in the U.S., which are more hospitalizations than for any other category of disease.  Therefore, evaluating the use of EHRs in these settings can help us understand how to best optimize the care and outcomes of a huge set of patients.
(more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety, Stroke / 29.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mathew J. Reeves BVSc, PhD, FAHA Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Reeves: The National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) is the single most important prognostic factor in predicting outcomes of individual stroke patients. NIHSS data is obviously important at the patient level but also at a hospital level since the case mix of stroke patients are assumed to vary widely across different hospitals and referral centers. Measuring stroke outcomes at a hospital level is becoming increasingly important as work proceeds in the US to develop integrated stroke systems of care. But it is also very relevant to the new payment models being introduced by CMS which are based on hospital rankings that are developed from statistical risk adjustment models. One would expect that NIHSS would be a major contributor to these models but currently a major limitation is that NIHSS is incompletely documented in clinical registries such as GWTG-Stroke, and is completely absent from administrative data. The problem of missing NIHSS data plays havoc with the ability to risk adjust stroke outcomes across hospitals. Missing data results is a smaller number of stroke cases being included in the risk adjusted calculations for a given hospital which results in greater uncertainty over what the actual hospital outcomes are. Further there is concern that NIHSS data is not missing at random, and so the NIHSS data that is documented may represent a biased selection of all the cases that a hospital admits. This too could have important consequences for hospital rankings. To determine the degree of potential bias in the documentation of NIHSS data this study examined trends in and predictors of documentation of NIHSS across 10 years of data (2003-2012) in the GWTG-Stroke program. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Nutrition, Pediatrics / 28.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael DMiedema, MD, MPH Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation Abbott Northwestern Hospital Minneapolis, MN Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Miedema: A healthy diet is an essential component in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. A dietary pattern high in fruits and vegetables has been associated with reduced rates of cardiovascular disease outcomes in multiple observation cohorts of middle-aged and older adults. However, the cardiovascular impact of fruit and vegetable intake in younger adults is less clear. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Miedema: To evaluate this relationship, we studied 2,506 young adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study to determine the association between fruit and vegetable intake during young adulthood and subsequent development of coronary artery calcium 20 years later. After adjusting for age, gender, and lifestyle variables, including smoking and physical activity, we found an inverse relationship between fruit and vegetable and subsequent coronary artery calcium across tertiles of fruit and vegetable intake (p-value <0.001). Individuals in the top third of fruit and vegetable intake at baseline had 26% lower odds of developing calcified plaque 20 years later. This inverse linear relationship remained significant after adjusting for fruit and vegetable intake at year 20 as well as after adjustment for other dietary variables such as dairy, nuts, fish, salt, and refined grains. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Stroke / 26.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shadi Yaghi, MD Assistant Professor of Neurology The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Rhode Island Hospital Stroke Center, Staff Neurologist Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yaghi: In this study, we pooled data from 10 stroke centers across the country to investigate the treatment and outcome of post thrombolysis hemorrhage in acute ischemic stroke. This study included 128 patients and showed that the treatments used were not effective in improving the mortality related to this condition. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Weight Research / 17.10.2015

Dr. Eric J. Belin de Chantemèle PhD Georgia Regents University Augusta Georgia MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Eric J. Belin de Chantemèle PhD Georgia Regents University Augusta Georgia  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Obesity is currently a worldwide epidemic and a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease including among others hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Despite decades of research, the mechanisms linking obesity to cardiovascular disease still remain incompletely understood. Obesity is commonly associated with increased levels of the mineralocorticoid hormone aldosterone. Excessive amounts of aldosterone promote hypertension, vascular and heart disease but also lead to inflammation, and facilitate the development of diabetes. The present study aimed at deciphering the origin of these high aldosterone levels. We have been the first to demonstrate that the adipocyte derived hormone leptin controls the level of expression of the enzyme producing aldosterone: aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2), in the adrenal glands, and leptin stimulates the release of aldosterone. This was demonstrated in different mouse models as well as in cultured human adrenocortical cells. We also demonstrated that leptin-mediated aldosterone production promotes the development of cardiovascular disease, notably impairs endothelium-dependent relaxation in major arteries and promotes the development of cardiac fibrosis. Both endothelial dysfunction and cardiac fibrosis are precursors of major cardiovascular disease. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Women's Heart Health / 16.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kate Smolina, PhD Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Centre for Health Services and Policy Research School of Population and Public Health The University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC  Canada  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Smolina: Women take fewer cardiovascular medications than men in an outpatient setting and there is limited information in the literature as to why. There are two possible explanations: this is either a consequence of prescribing behaviour by physicians or adherence behaviour by patients – or a combination of the two. This study showed that younger women are less likely to be prescribed or to fill their first prescription after a heart attack compared to younger men. But once the therapy is actually started, we found no sex differences in adherence. This is very helpful because it identifies the point on the continuum of care at which the disparity occurs and where we need to focus interventions. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Dermatology, Heart Disease, NIH / 12.10.2015

Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., F.A.H.A. Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases NIHMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., F.A.H.A. Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases NIH Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mehta: Psoriasis increases cardiovascular disease (CVD), and this study shows for the first time that the amount of psoriasis on the skin is mirrored in the blood vessels by increasing blood vessel inflammation. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Mehta: Even one plaque may be too many if we are seeing a relationship between skin disease severity and vascular inflammation. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease, JACC, University Texas, UT Southwestern / 07.10.2015

Ambarish Pandey, MD Cardiology Fellow, PGY5 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ambarish Pandey, MD Cardiology Fellow, PGY5 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Berry: Physical inactivity is considered a major modifiable risk factor for coronary artery disease and the current guidelines recommend atleast 150 min/week (~ 500 MET-min/week) of moderate intensity physical activity to reduce the burden of coronary artery disease. In contrast, the role of physical activity in reducing risk of heart failure is not emphasized in the current guidelines. This is particularly relevant considering the increasing burden of heart failure in the community. Against this background, we performed this study to the dose-response relationship between physical activity levels and risk of heart failure. We observed a dose dependent inverse association between physical activity levels and heart failure risk. Furthermore, we observed that the current guideline recommended physical activity levels (500 MET-min/week) are associated with only modest reduction in HF risk (< 10%). In contrast, a substantial reduction in heart failure risk was observed at twice and four times the recommended physical activity levels (19% and 35% risk reduction respectively) (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, OBGYNE, Women's Heart Health / 22.09.2015

Barbara A. Cohn, PhD Director of the Child Health and Development Studies at the Public Health Institute. Berkeley, CaliforniaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Barbara A. Cohn, PhD Director of the Child Health and Development Studies at the Public Health Institute. Berkeley, California Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cohn: I guessed that pregnancy complications would be an early warning sign of cardiovascular problems because of the extraordinary demands that pregnancy places on a woman’s cardiovascular system. Medical Research: What data were used for this study? Dr. Cohn: The Child Health and Development Studies is a large pregnancy cohort that enrolled more than 20,000 pregnancies in the 1960’s. Women and their families have been followed now for more than 50 years. Information on pregnancy complications was captured from medical records as they occurred, long before cardiovascular disease developed. These data are the basis for the current study. Medical Research: Why hasn’t this study already been done? Dr. Cohn: Long-term, large studies of pregnancy are rare. I first tried to do this study forty years ago when I was in graduate school.   At that time, Dr. Bea van den Berg, the late, second director of the Child Health and Development Studies advised that the study mothers were still too young to observe their cardiovascular disease experience. Now 40 years later, my colleague Piera Cirillo and I have been able to test the idea that combinations of pregnancy complications are linked to cardiovascular disease death for women. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, Lifestyle & Health, McGill / 18.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sylvie S.L. Leung Yinko, MSc, RD Division of Clinical Epidemiology Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) Montreal (QC) and Louise Pilote, MD, MPH, PhD Professor of Medicine McGill University and Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine McGill University Health Centre Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with premature acute coronary syndrome (ACS) are a vulnerable population of young or middle-aged adults at risk for future cardiovascular events. However, while health behaviors such as diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and recreational drug use are important lifestyle factors that can influence cardiovascular risk, there is limited information about health behaviors in this population group. Additionally, there is indication in the literature regarding sex and age differences in health behaviors, but whether such differences exist in patients with premature acute coronary syndrome remained to be explored. Using data from GENESIS-PRAXY (GENdEr and Sex determInantS of Cardiovascular Disease from bench to beyond in PRemature Acute Coronary Syndrome), a large-scale prospective cohort study across Canada, US and Switzerland, we explored the health behavior profile of patients with premature ACS. As well, we examined whether there is a change in health behaviors 1 year post-ACS and assessed sex differences. Our results showed that the health behavior profile of men and women with premature Acute Coronary Syndrome are worse than that of the general population. We found a high prevalence of poor health behaviors in a young population with only modest changes after Acute Coronary Syndrome. Health behaviors remained suboptimal and worse than the general population, especially with regards to diet, smoking and recreational drug use. Sex differences existed in the prevalence of these behaviors at baseline and 1 year post-ACS but not in the magnitude of change after the ACS event. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Clots, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Medical Imaging / 17.09.2015

Peter Caravan, PhD Co-Director, Institute for Innovation in Imaging (I3) Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging Massachusetts General Hospital Associate Professor of Radiology Harvard Medical SchoolMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Caravan, PhD Co-Director, Institute for Innovation in Imaging (I3) Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging Massachusetts General Hospital Associate Professor of Radiology Harvard Medical School Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Caravan: The motivation for this work was to develop a technique that would allow the detection of thrombus (clot) anywhere in the body after injection of a molecular probe called 64Cu-FBP8.  Current techniques for thrombus detection are limited to specific vascular territories.  In instances where the location of the thrombus is unknown or if there is suspicion of multiple thrombi, then multiple imaging tests must be performed.  We sought to develop a test that could be used to find clots anywhere:  brain, thorax, abdomen, legs and in arteries, veins, or the cardiac chambers.  In addition to whole body thrombus detection, we sought a technique that could address some of the limitations with current thrombus imaging techniques.  For example computed tomography (CT), which is used to detect pulmonary emboli, requires a contrast agent that cannot be used in patients with poor kidney function.  Transesophageal echocardiography used to identify thrombus in the chambers of the heart requires that the patient be sedated. Our approach is to use a small peptide that recognizes the protein fibrin, which is a key component of blood clots.  We tagged the peptide with an isotope of copper, Cu-64, that allows the peptide to be detected by positron emission tomography (PET). 64Cu-FBP8 binds specifically to fibrin but not to other proteins in the blood and this means that the uptake in the clot is high while background signal is very low.  We combined PET imaging which finds the clot with CT imaging or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  By overlaying the PET image with the CT or MRI image, we could precisely localize the clot within the We were interested to see if the age of the clot impacted our ability to detect it.  We imaged animals with a total of 42 arterial or venous clots and then the images were analyzed by two reviewers who had no prior knowledge of the location of the clot.  Overall the accuracy was 98% for detection. Another key finding was that the uptake of 64Cu-FBP8 strongly correlated with the amount of fibrin in the clot and that younger, fresher clots had more fibrin than older clots.  This could be very useful in distinguishing newer clots which may be the source of cardiovascular events from older, clots that may pose less risk. We also showed using combined PET-MRI that we could detect multiple blood clots in the animal in a single whole body scan.  The procedure involves a single intravenous administration of 64Cu-FBP8 and clots in the deep veins of the legs or in the carotid arteries were readily detected. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Cognitive Issues, Mental Health Research / 16.09.2015

Daniela Carnevale, PhD, Researcher Laboratory of Giuseppe Lembo, MD, PhD Dept. of Molecular Medicine "Sapienza" University of Rome & Dept. of Angiocardioneurology and Translational Medicine IRCCS Neuromed - Technology Park Località CamerelleMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniela Carnevale, PhD, Researcher Laboratory of Giuseppe Lembo, MD, PhD Dept. of Molecular Medicine "Sapienza" University of Rome & Dept. of Angiocardioneurology and Translational Medicine IRCCS Neuromed - Technology Park Località Camerelle Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Carnevale: Nowadays, one of the most demanding challenge in medicine is preserving cognitive functions during aging. It is well known that cardiovascular risk factors have a profound impact on the possibility of developing dementia with aging. However, we have no means to investigate this aspect in patients with cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, although we have clear clinical paradigms to explore target organ damage of vascular diseases like hypertension, we are less prepared to afford the brain damage that may result from chronic vascular diseases and impact on cognitive functions. Thus, we aimed at finding a diagnostic paradigm to assess brain damage that could predict for future development of dementia. Since it is becoming increasingly clear that hypertension may determine cognitive decline, even before manifest neurodegeneration, we elaborated a paradigm of analysis that are essentially focused on brain imaging and cognitive assessment. In particular, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) on magnetic resonance that allows to reconstruct white matter connections that correlate with selective cognitive functions, and specifics tests for the evaluation of subtle alterations of cognitive functions. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Heart Disease, Microbiome / 16.09.2015

Jingyuan Fu, Ph.D. Associate professor of genetics University Medical Center Groningen NetherlandsMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jingyuan Fu, Ph.D. Associate professor of genetics University Medical Center Groningen Netherlands  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Jingyuan Fu: Abnormal blood lipid levels are important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Because of that, a common advice is to have a healthy lifestyle or take lipid-lowering drugs like statin to control the blood lipid level. However, the problem is only partially solved. Cardiovascular disease remains the No 1 cause of death globally, representing 31% of all global deaths.  The primary purpose of the study is to look for a new solution in humans’ gut. Over millions of years, microbes and humans have formed a truly symbiotic relationship. Human body contains 10 trillion bacteria, 10x more than human cells. They help digest food and train our immune systems. As less than 30% of bacteria in human gut can be cultured, we know very little how they are and what they do in our gut. With the state-of-art deep sequencing technology, we are now able to see who are there. The research questions would be how much effect these bacteria could affect the blood lipids levels and which bacteria play important role. No such an analysis was done in large-scale human population. Our study was the first to provide solid evidence for the associations between gut bacteria and blood lipids. Although we cannot conclude cause-effect relationship yet, it serves an important step in narrowing possible therapeutic targets. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Sleep Disorders / 12.09.2015

Chan-Won Kim, M.D. Clinical Associate Professor Center for Cohort Studies Kangbuk Samsun Hospital Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine Seoul, South KoreaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chan-Won Kim, M.D. Clinical Associate Professor Center for Cohort Studies Kangbuk Samsun Hospital Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine Seoul, South Korea Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Chan-Won Kim: In modern society, inadequate sleep either in quantity or in quality is a common problem and widely recognized as a potential determinant of adverse health outcomes including cardiovascular health. Very long or very short duration of sleep are associated with an increased risk for clinical cardiovascular events such as coronary heart disease and strokes. In these previous studies, however, it was possible that extreme sleep duration or poor sleep quality was a consequence of previous co-morbidities such as depression and obesity, and it was still unclear if these co-morbidities were really responsible for the effects of sleep disturbances. Therefore, we evaluated the association of sleep duration and quality with early markers of subclinical arterial disease in asymptomatic apparently healthy men and women. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Chan-Won Kim:  In our study, we found that sleep duration had a U-shaped association with two early markers of vascular disease. Both short and long sleep duration were associated with a greater amount of calcification in the coronary arteries, a very good measure of subclinical atherosclerosis that predicts the risk of a heart attack. We also found a similar pattern of association with arterial stiffness, a marker of vascular aging. For both markers, we found the lowers risk in study participants who reported 7 hours of sleep. In addition, poor subjective sleep quality was also associated with these markers of vascular disease. Few studies had explored these associations before, and they were inconsistent partly because of small sample sizes. Our research also indicates that these associations were present irrespective of traditional risk factors such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Stroke / 20.08.2015

Josefine Persson Doctoral student Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology Sahlgrenska Academy University of GothenburgMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Josefine Persson Doctoral student Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Stroke is a major global disease that requires extensive care and support from the society and the family. We know from previous research that a stroke often has a wide-spread impact on the daily life of the family. To provide support to a partner is often perceived as natural and important, but can be demanding and have an impact on the spouses own health. The situation for spouses as caregivers is well studied during the first two years after the stroke, while the long-term effects are less well known. By this, we studied the physical and mental health of 248 spouses of stroke survivors, below age 70 at stroke onset, seven years after the stroke event and compared our result with 245 spouses of non-stroke, age- and sex-matched controls. Medical Research:  What are the main findings? Response: The main finding of our study is that caregiver spouses of stroke survivors are at an increased risk of mental and physical health issues even seven years after stroke onset. This is the first study with this long period of follow up and the results show that the restriction on the spouses own activity and social relationships studied in shorter follow up is also obvious for a large proportion of the spouses in a very long perspective. Spouses’ quality of life was most adversely affected by their partners’ level of disability, cognitive difficulties and depressive symptoms. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews / 20.08.2015

Dr. Dominic PJ Howard BM BCh MA DPhil (Oxon) MRCS Vascular and Endovascular Fellow Flinders Medical Centre Southern Adelaide Local Health NetworkMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Dominic PJ Howard BM BCh MA DPhil (Oxon) MRCS Vascular and Endovascular Fellow Flinders Medical Centre Southern Adelaide Local Health Network Dr. Howard is I academic vascular surgeon currently based in Oxford, UK. He worked with Professor Peter Rothwell as part of the Oxford Vascular Study.   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Howard: Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a potentially lethal ballooning of the aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel, which supplies blood from the heart to the abdomen and on to the rest of the body. Smoking, high blood pressure, male gender and older age are four key risk factors for abdominal aneurysms. Currently, men 65 and older are screened in the United States and in Europe for the condition based on recommendations from European screening trials and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. However, deaths from abdominal aortic aneurysm are moving to older ages. Our study is the first prospective population-based study of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm events.  We have found high incidence and death rates for this condition, particularly in older people. Most ruptured aortic aneurysms currently happen in people aged over 75 and this is likely to shift to those aged over 85 during the next few decades. The few ruptured aortic aneurysms that do occur in younger people (aged 65-75) occur almost exclusively in male smokers. Therefore we have calculated that if the national UK screening policy was modified to screen only male current smokers aged 65 and then all men at age 75 this could result in an almost four-fold increase in the number of deaths prevented and a three-fold increase in the number of life-years saved compared to the current UK strategy, with about a 20% reduction in the number of scans required. (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…)