Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, PAD, Stroke / 19.07.2018 Interview with: Dr. Michael Barry MD Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital Physician at Massachusetts General Hospit Professor of Medicine,Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Peripheral artery disease—which is known as PAD—is a disease that reduces blood flow to a person’s limbs, especially the legs. PAD can cause leg and foot pain when resting or walking, wounds to not heal properly, and loss of limbs. Additionally, people with PAD are more likely to experience a cardiovascular disease event, such as heart attack and stroke. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force looked at the latest research to see if screening people without signs or symptoms of PAD using the ankle brachial index (ABI) can prevent heart attack, stroke, or other adverse health effects. We found that more research is needed to determine if screening with ABI can help to identify PAD and/or prevent heart attack or stroke in people without signs or symptoms. Additionally, in a separate recommendation statement, we looked into the effectiveness of what we call nontraditional risk factors for assessing a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Clinicians typically check someone’s risk for cardiovascular disease using traditional risk factors, such as age, race, and smoking status. The Task Force looked at the current evidence to see if three additional, nontraditional risk factors can help prevent heart disease or stroke. The nontraditional factors considered were ABI measurements, an elevated amount of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) in the blood, and an elevated amount of calcium in the coronary arteries (CAC score). In this recommendation, we also found that there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against using nontraditional risk factors in addition to those normally used to assess cardiovascular disease risk in people without signs or symptoms.  (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Heart Disease, Technology / 03.04.2018 Interview with: Benjamin Hibbert MD PhD FRCPCz Interventional Cardiologist Clinician Scientist and Assistant Professor CAPITAL Research Group Vascular Biology and Experimental Medicine Laboratory University of Ottawa Heart Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: When we designed the study in 2014 we were routinely using the modified allen's test (MAT) to screen patients for transradial access for coronary angiography and PCI. We all had iPhones and we started using the HeartRate monitoring application as a photoplethysmograph. Quite quickly we found that using the application was simple, worked well and because we always had our iPhone with us we tended to use it more often. That being said - we wanted to test it in a scientifically rigorous method and thus we elected to perform an RCT to evaluate it's diagnostic accuracy. smart app measures blood flowThe current study is the first to use the photoplethysmographic capabilities of smartphones to assess blood flow - in this case in the hand to assess for blockages in arteries before accessing them for a procedure. The hand is supplied by two arteries - the radial artery and the ulnar artery. In many cases in medicine we use the radial artery, whether it be placing a catheter to monitor blood pressure, as a method of getting to the heart for angioplasty and in coronary artery bypass grafting it is removed and used as a bypass to restore blood flow to the heart. In many instances doctors assess the patency of the ulnar artery to decided if they are going to use the radial artery for a procedure - the concept being that if the ulnar is compromised and we use the radial then the hand can develop complications from not enough blood flow. To determine if a patient is eligible doctors would use a bedside physical exam test called the modified Allen's test in which they occlude both arteries to cause the hand to turn white. They then release pressure on the ulnar letting blood only pass through this vessel to see if the hand turns pink. However, there is a lot of variability in what doctors consider to be abnormal and determining if the test is positive can depend on numerous factors including skin tone, the amount of pressure applied and the size of the vessels. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Hepatitis - Liver Disease / 18.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Mauricio Berriel Diaz Deputy Director & Head of Division Metabolic Dysfunction and Cancer Institute for Diabetes and Cancer IDC Helmholtz Center Munich and Joint Heidelberg-IDC Translational Diabetes Program Heidelberg University Hospital, Molecular Metabolic Control Medical Faculty, Technical University Munich Neuherberg, Germany What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our institute takes part in a german collaborative research consortium (, in which the key objective is to understand why in diabetes mellitus late complications occur even when blood sugar is well controlled. Our study focused the role of the liver and of inflammatory signaling, as the latter is known to be increased in metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes mellitus. We found that TNF-α-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation in the liver abolished the function of the transcription factor GAbp. Impaired hepatic GAbp function resulted in transcriptional inactivation of the cellular energy sensor AMPK, which in turn induced hepatic cholesterol secretion, hypercholesterolemia and eventually atherosclerotic lesion formation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NIH / 20.12.2016 Interview with: Manfred Boehm M.D. Senior Investigator Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Center for Molecular Medicine NHLBI-NIH Bethesda, MD 20892 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Common atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels) is the leading cause for vascular diseases worldwide. Vascular calcification is a critical component of atherosclerosis and an indicator of negative outcomes. This process is highly regulated and dynamic. However, the underlying mechanism is poorly understood and no direct treatment is available to stop or reverse this devastating buildup of calcium crystals in the vessel wall. Arterial calcification due to deficiency of CD73 is a rare inherited vascular disease characterized by extensive calcification of blood vessels caused by mutation in a gene encoding an enzyme that generates a compound called Adenosine outside of cells. The lack of this important enzyme, CD73, activates a compensatory mechanism to generated Adenosine by an alternative enzyme. Unfortunately, increased activity of this other enzyme is causing accelerated vascular calcification. By using the patient’s own cells, this study characterized the compensatory signaling pathway and discovered several new treatment strategies. (more…)