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May 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.018 Online First

Factor XI and XIa inhibition: a new approach to anticoagulant therapy

Mark Anthony Sammut, Nadir Elamin, Robert F Storey

Abstract

Factor (F) XI or XIa inhibition has attracted interest due to the protection from thrombotic events and minimal bleeding tendency observed in FXI-deficient individuals. The prospect of uncoupling the management of thrombosis from the bleeding risk inadvertently associated with current therapy inspired the development of agents directed towards this step in the coagulation process. This review describes the physiological rationale behind FXI/FXIa inhibition and the pharmacological properties of existing FXI/FXIa inhibitors. It also explores the potential clinical use of these agents in various thromboembolic pathologies, predominantly through the phase II clinical trials conducted so far comparing them to current anticoagulant therapy or placebo.

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May 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.019 Online First

Cardiac ejection fraction as a problematic metric for heart failure phenotyping

Rienzi A Diaz-Navarro, Peter L M Kerkhof

Abstract

“Seek simplicity and distrust it.”
Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947), English philosopher and mathematician

The metric ejection fraction (EF) is widely employed to evaluate ventricular pumping performance, used for heart failure (HF) classification, and its calculation is simple.1–3 For example, with end-systolic volume (ESV) =50 ml and end-diastolic volume (EDV) =100 ml, the EF=50%. Unfortunately, its correct interpretation received insufficient attention. As EF is a ratio-based number (or percentage) without physical unit(s), it cannot provide unique information. The underlying problem, and also a logical solution, can be shown by the ventricular volume domain representation (figure 1A) that relates ESV to EDV. Volumes may be indexed (i) for body surface area, if appropriate. Focusing on ESVi and EDVi is important, as this combination is associated with the familiar pressure–volume (PV) loop description, which, in turn, connects with clinically relevant characteristics, such as stroke work and myocardial oxygen consumption (MVO2).1

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May 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.020 Online First

A retrospective observational study of certain interactions with simvastatin 40 mg in an acute hospital in England

Danita Boamah, Liam Bastian, Michael Wilcock

Abstract

The use of simvastatin 40 mg with various interacting medicines may lead to an increased risk of myopathy. We examined the extent to which hospital inpatients were prescribed simvastatin 40 mg with amiodarone, amlodipine, diltiazem, or verapamil, and assessed if any action was taken by prescribers or the pharmacy team to avoid this interaction. We found 56 patients on a combination of interest during their stay. Of the 20 (36%) patients not discharged on the combination, in six instances this was due to pharmacy intervention, while the remaining instances when simvastatin 40 mg or the interacting drug was amended or ceased were due to other clinical reasons. There is a need among clinicians and pharmacy teams within the hospital for recognition and management of these particular interactions.

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April 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.013 Online First

The impact of air pollution on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease development

Clayton Tewma, Justin Lee Mifsud

Abstract

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, causing around 17.9 million deaths annually, a third of whom are adults aged <70 years.1 In addition to genetic and behavioural risk factors (unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco and alcohol abuse), inhaling airborne pollutants, such as fine particulate matter (<2.5 µm [PM2.5] and <10 µm [PM10]), ultrafine particles (UFPs; <100 nm), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and sulphur dioxide (SO2), are associated with ASCVD among adults.2

Air pollution has been referred to as “the single most important environmental factor presenting a risk to health and represents a greater disease burden than polluted water, soil contamination and occupational exposures combined”.3 Air pollution is a silent killer and was highlighted as a significant public health concern in the recently published European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines.4

The impact of urbanisation on air pollution levels is a critical concern for countries like Malta, which have adopted a city model to bolster their economies. Despite efforts to stimulate economic growth, the rise in urbanisation can pose risks to air quality. In London, mean PM2.5 concentrations stood at approximately 12.7 µg/m³ in 2017, 12.0 µg/m³ in 2018, and 11.4 µg/m³ in 2019.5 Conversely, Valletta, Malta’s capital, recorded mean PM2.5 concentrations of about 14 µg/m³ in 2017, 14.4 µg/m³ in 2018, and 14 µg/m³ in 2019.6 While both have seen improvements in their aggregated annual mean PM2.5 concentrations compared with the concentration levels recorded in the past decade, they still exceed the World Health Organisation (WHO) annual air quality guideline value by approximately 1.14 to 1.4 times, highlighting the persistent challenge of air pollution in urban environments.

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April 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.014 Online First

Cardioversion versus ablation versus ‘pace and ablate’ for persistent atrial fibrillation in older patients

William Eysenck, Neil Sulke, Nick Freemantle, Neil Bodagh, Nikhil Patel, Stephen Furniss, Rick Veasey

Abstract

Our objective was to compare the efficacy of atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation versus permanent pacemaker (PPM) with atrioventricular node ablation (AVNA) versus direct current cardioversion (DCCV) for persistent AF in patients ≥65 years old.

Seventy-seven patients (aged 66–86, mean 75.4 years) with persistent AF were randomised (1:1:1) to AF ablation + amiodarone (± DCCV), PPM with AVNA (+DCCV) or DCCV + amiodarone. The primary end point was persistent AF recurrence, measured with an implanted cardiac monitor or PPM. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) was performed at baseline and six months. Symptom questionnaires were completed monthly. Follow-up was 12 months.

The primary end point occurred in fewer patients following AF ablation + amiodarone than DCCV + amiodarone (seven patients, 28% vs. 15 patients, 60%; hazard ratio [HR] 0.559, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.293 to 1.065, p=0.073) with no differences between DCCV + amiodarone and PPM with AVNA (HR 0.990, 95%CI 0.539 to 1.818, p=0.973). AF ablation + amiodarone resulted in a lower AF burden at 12 months compared with DCCV + amiodarone (17.0 ± 37.9% vs. 61.7 ± 48.6%, p<0.0001). Modified European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) symptom class improved in all patients (baseline 2.4 ± 0.495 vs. 12-month follow-up 1.84 ± 0.081, p=0.00001). Six-month CPET demonstrated a higher VO2 peak in sinus rhythm (SR) compared with baseline in AF (12.1 ± 4.2 ml/kg/min at baseline to 15.3 ± 4.2 ml/kg/min at six months, p=0.013).

In conclusion, in older patients with persistent AF, ablation + amiodarone resulted in a lower AF burden at 12 months than DCCV + amiodarone. There was a non-significant trend toward reduced recurrence of device-detected persistent AF episodes. All therapies improved symptoms despite DCCV restoring SR in <50% of patients at 12 months. CPET demonstrated improved VO2 peak with SR restoration.

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April 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.015 Online First

Heartificial intelligence: in what ways will artificial intelligence lead to changes in cardiology over the next 10 years

Sam Brown

Abstract

Artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionise cardiology practices over the next decade, from optimising diagnostics to individualising treatment strategies. Moreover, it can play an important role in combating gender inequalities in cardiovascular disease outcomes. There is growing evidence that AI algorithms can match humans at echocardiography analysis, while also being able to extract subtle differences that the human eye cannot detect. Similar promise is evident in the analysis of electrocardiograms, creating a new layer of interpretation. From big data, AI can produce algorithms that individualise cardiac risk factors and prevent perpetuating gender biases in diagnosis. Nonetheless, AI implementation requires caution. To avoid worsening health inequalities, it must be trained across diverse populations, and when errors arise, a robust regulatory framework must be in place to ensure safety and accountability. AI is perfectly positioned to capitalise on the growth of big data, but to proceed we require a generation of physicians who understand its fundamentals.

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April 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.016 Online First

Outcomes of PCI of all comers: the experience of a Kuwaiti independent healthcare institution

Telal Mudawi, Waleed Alenezi, Ahmed Amin, Dalia Besada, Asmaa Aly, Assem Fathi, Darar Al-Khdair, Muath Al-Anbaei

Abstract

We present the cumulative percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) data of all comers (stable angina and acute coronary syndromes [ACS]) who presented to Hadi Clinic between January 2018 and December 2020. As a low-volume PCI centre in the Middle East, we wanted to find out if the outcomes of our PCI procedures are different from those of high-volume PCI centres in the UK and the Western world.

Prospectively collected data of all comers for PCI (urgent and elective) were retrospectively analysed. Pre-procedural data included patients’ baseline characteristics (age, gender, clinical presentation and comorbidities). Intra-procedural data included access route, coronary anatomy, lesion complexity, number of stents deployed, door-to-balloon time for primary PCI, and any intra-procedural complications. Post-procedural data included average length of in-hospital stay, intra-hospital morbidity and mortality, and mortality or admission with ACS 12–36 months after the index procedure.

A total of 567 patients underwent coronary catheterisation for the three-year period between January 2018 and December 2020. Mean age was 60.9 ± 9.4 years, and 459/567 (81.0%) were male. Comorbidities included dyslipidaemia 515/567 (90.9%), hypertension 460/567 (81.2%), diabetes 346/567 (61%), known prior coronary disease 250/567 (44.2%), and smoking 188/567 (33.1%). Clinical presentation was stable angina 130/567 (22.9%), non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTEACS) 312/567 (55%), ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) 125/567 (22.0%), and STEMI with cardiogenic shock 13/125 (10.4%). The radial approach was used in 544/567 (95.94%), the average SYNTAX score was 34.8 ± 9.6, and the average number of stents 2.6. The total number of PCI was 367 (122.3 annually) with PCI procedural complete success in 349/367 (95.1%), partial success 5/367 (1.36%), PCI procedural complications 3/367 (0.82%), PCI in-hospital mortality 1/367 (0.27%), door-to-balloon time for primary PCI 31.8 ± 12.2 minutes, subsequent admission with ACS after 12–36 months 2/367 (0.54%), and post-discharge mortality after 12–36 months 1/367 (0.27%).

In conclusion, our patient population have more comorbidities and more complex coronary disease in comparison to their western counterparts. Our annual PCI numbers have been significantly lower than the recommended 400 minimum cut-off figure, yet we have achieved comparable outcomes to those of larger institutions of the western world.

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April 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31(2) doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.017 Online First

Safety outcomes of suspected cardiac pathology assessed in an ambulatory rapid-access cardiology clinic

Pok-Tin Tang, Benjamin Bussmann, Asad Shabbir, Andrew Elkington, William Orr

Abstract

Cardiac pathology contributes to a significant proportion of emergency department (ED) attendances. Many could be managed as urgent outpatients and avoid hospital admission. We evaluated a novel rapid-access general cardiology clinic to achieve this, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We performed a retrospective review of baseline characteristics, investigations, final diagnoses, and 90-day safety (readmission, major adverse cardiovascular events [MACE], mortality) from electronic records and conducted a patient experience survey.

There were 216 ED referrals made between 1 June and 30 October 2020. The median time to review was two days (interquartile range 1–5). At 90 days, there were three (1.4%) re-presentations requiring admission, two (0.9%) MACE, and no deaths. There were 205 (95%) successfully managed without hospital admission. Among surveyed patients, 96% felt they had concerns adequately addressed in a timely manner.

In conclusion, our rapid-access cardiology clinic is a safe model for outpatient management of a range of cardiovascular presentations to the ED.

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March 2024 Br J Cardiol 2024;31:36 doi: 10.5837/bjc.2024.009

The prevalence of coronary artery disease in patients presenting with ‘non-anginal chest pain’

William Chick, Anita Macnab

Abstract

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advise against routine testing for coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients with non-anginal chest pain (NACP). This clinical audit sought to establish the prevalence of significant CAD in this cohort using computed tomography angiography (CTCA) and evaluate differences in the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors between those with and without obstructive coronary disease.

Over 23 months, 866 patients with NACP underwent CTCA. Patients were separated into three groups for analysis depending on the degree of CAD on CTCA using the CAD-RADS (Coronary Artery Disease Reporting and Data System) scoring system; no evidence of CAD (group 1), a degree of CAD requiring medical therapy only (group 2), significant CAD defined as a CAD-RADS score 4A/B or 5 (group 3). Cardiovascular risk factors were compared between the groups.

We found 11.5% had significant CAD (group 3), 58.3% required medical therapy (group 2) and 30.1% had no CAD (group 1). There were 32 patients who required coronary revascularisation. Patients in group 2 and 3 were more likely to be male (p<0.001) and older (p<0.001) when compared to patients in group 1. Patients in group 3 were more likely to be hypertensive (p=0.008) and have higher Qrisk2 scores (p<0.001) when compared with those in group 1.

In conclusion, NICE guidelines for NACP may result in a significant proportion of patients with CAD being underdiagnosed, including some with severe disease requiring revascularisation. This analysis suggests age, male gender, Qrisk2 score and hypertension are predictors of CAD in this cohort.

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