Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Heart Disease, JAMA / 11.07.2017 Interview with: Sacha Bhatia, MD, MBA, FRCPC Scientist, Women's College Research Institute Director, Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care Cardiologist, Women's College Hospital and University Health Network Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The USPSTF recommends against screening with resting electrocardiography (ECG) for the prediction of coronary heart disease (CHD) events in asymptomatic adults at low risk for CHD events. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of the frequency of resting ECGs in low risk patients within 30 days of an annual health exam. We found that 21.5% of low risk patients in Ontario, Canada had a ECG, with significant variation among primary care physicians (1.8% to 76.1%). Moreover, low risk patients who had a ECG were five times more likely to receive another cardiac test or cardiology consultation than those that did not receive an ECG. At one year the rate of mortality, cardiac hospitalizations and revascularization was <0.5% in each group. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Heart Disease / 26.05.2017 Interview with: Dr. Jinhui Zhao PhD Scientist, Centre for Addictions Research of BC University of Victoria What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  There are now many studies questioning the validity of the theory that moderate alcohol consumption protects against heart disease. We provided an up to date and comprehensive review of the evidence from ‘cohort’ studies i.e. those that assess health risk behaviours of people then follow them up for a number of years to see what characteristics predict death from a particular condition. We wished to test the theory that the appearance of health benefits in relation to heart disease is due to biases that accumulate and become more severe when cohorts are recruited at older ages (e.g. over 55 years). We found evidence to support this hypothesis. Moderate drinkers recruited before 55 years of age did not show any evidence of reduced risk of heart disease even when followed up into old age. Moderate drinkers from the older cohorts, however, did appear to have significant benefits – a finding we attribute to selection biases that accumulate across the life-course. Several published meta-analyses showed inconsistent findings about how alcohol consumption affects the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Most systematic reviews find associations between low-volume alcohol consumption and reduced CHD risk, while some also find increased CHD risk for higher levels of consumption (Maclure 1993, Corrao, Rubbiati et al. 2000, Corrao, Bagnardi et al. 2004, Ronksley, Brien et al. 2011, Roerecke and Rehm 2012). More recent evidence has accumulated to suggest that the case for cardio-protection may be less straightforward. The association of alcohol consumption with CHD may be confounded or modified by other factors such as age and sex and / or biased by those factors which have not been investigated or controlled for in these previously published studies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Lipids / 02.03.2017 Interview with: Dr. Yashashwi Pokharel MD, MSCR Department of Cardiovascular Research Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute Kansas City, Missouri and Salim S. Virani, MD PhD, FACC, FAHA Associate Professor, Section of Cardiovascular Research Associate Director for Research, Cardiology Fellowship Training Program Baylor College of Medicine Investigator, Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center HSR&D Center of Innovation Staff Cardiologist, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center Houston, TX What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Unlike the previous cholesterol management guideline that recommended use of either statin and non-statin therapy to achieve low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) target, the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association cholesterol management guideline made a major paradigm shift by recommending statin focused treatment in 4 specific patient groups and replaced LDL-C target with fixed statin intensity treatment (moderate to high intensity statin therapy). With this change, it was speculated that a large number of patients would be eligible for statin treatment (in one study, up to 11.1% additional patients were expected to be eligible for statin therapy). Our study provided the real world trends in the use of statin and non-statin lipid lowering therapy (LLT) from a national sample of cardiology practices in 1.1 million patients 14 months before and 14 months after the release of the 2013 guideline. We found a modest, but significant increasing trend in the use of statin therapy in only 1 of the 4 patient groups eligible for statin therapy (i.e., 4.3% increase in the use of moderate to high intensity statin therapy in patients with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease). We did not find any significant change in non-statin LLT use. Importantly, about a third to half of patients in statin eligible groups were not receiving moderate to high intensity statin therapy even after the publication of the 2013 guideline. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Heart Disease, JAMA, Personalized Medicine, UCSF / 21.06.2016 Interview with: Peter Ganz, MD Chief, Division of Cardiology Director, Center of Excellence in Vascular Research Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Maurice Eliaser Distinguished Professor of Medicine University of California, San Francisco What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ganz:  The research described in the JAMA paper involved measuring 1,130 different proteins in nearly 2000 individuals with apparently stable coronary heart disease, who were followed up to 11 years. Initially, two hundred different proteins were identified whose blood levels could be related to the risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and death, and ultimately a combination of nine proteins was selected for a risk prediction model, based on their combined accuracy and sensitivity. Application of these findings to samples of patients with stable coronary heart disease demonstrated that some of those who were deemed clinically stable instead had a high risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, while other patients with the same clinical diagnosis had a very low risk. Thus, individuals who all carried the same clinical diagnosis of stable coronary heart disease had a risk of an adverse cardiovascular event that varied by as much as 10-fold, as revealed by analysis of the levels of the nine proteins in their blood. Given such large differences in risk and outcomes, patients could reasonably opt to be treated differently, depending on their level of risk. We hope that in the future, management of patients with stable angina will at least in part rely on risk assessment based on levels of blood proteins. (more…)