2019, Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 121–160

2019, Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 121–160

Editorials Clinical articles News and views
Topics include:-
  • Depression screening in heart patients
  • Real-life management of lipid disorders
  • The decline in temporary pacing
  • Women in cardiology


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November 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:127

This issue – from the GP perspective

Terry McCormack


When I first arrived at Whitby Group Practice (WGP) in the middle 80s, my surgery was next to Whitby Hospital Outpatients, where Anthony Bacon conducted his cardiology clinic. Dr Bacon’s article on aortic stenosis was in our previous issue.1 In this issue, Tariq Enezate and colleagues add to our knowledge of managing this condition.2

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October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:125–7 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.032

Women in cardiology: glass ceilings and lead-lined walls

Alexandra Abel, Rosita Zakeri, Cara Hendry, Sarah Clarke


Women are underrepresented in cardiology and there is a focus on increasing entry to the specialty and understanding how to overcome challenges. At the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) annual conference 2019, there was a session dedicated to discussing barriers faced by women in cardiology and progress made in this area, making a ‘call to action’ for change. Representing and supporting women in cardiology is a priority of the BCS and the British Junior Cardiologists’ Association (BJCA). The BJCA has undertaken commendable work exploring challenges and proposing potential solutions: much of the data discussed in this article are from their annual survey or was reported at BCS 2019.

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Clinical articles

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November 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:130–2 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.039

Depression screening in CAD may provide an opportunity to decrease health outcomes disparities

Adam Prince, Umair Ahmed, Nikhil Sharma, Rachel Bond


Depressive symptoms in coronary artery disease (CAD) are known to associate with increased mortality. We evaluated management of depression screening in the outpatient setting for patients with known CAD at ambulatory visits. We assessed whether depression screening was performed with a patient health questionnaire, as well as what was done with positive results. Our study identified 355 patients who visited an ambulatory primary care clinic over a three-year period, 57% of whom were screened at least once. Positive scores for depression were found in 20% of patients screened, with 54% of screening-positive patients given plans for additional care. We found disparities between screening rates, with whites screened least for depression, as well as in management plans, with whites given highest probability of mentioned treatment in their assessment and plan if depression screening was positive. Given the association with increased mortality in known CAD, depression screening may represent an opportunity to decrease health outcomes disparities and to improve outcomes for patients with CAD in the outpatient setting.

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November 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:133–6 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.040

Unscheduled care bed days can be reduced with a syncope pathway and rapid access syncope clinic

Bruce McLintock, James Reid, Eileen Capek, Lesley Anderton, Lara Mitchell


A syncope pathway for secondary care was launched in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), Glasgow, in 2016. The pathway aims to risk stratify patients into three categories: high risk (requiring admission), intermediate risk (suitable for discharge ± outpatient review) or low risk (no further investigation required). There are clear referral procedures to the rapid access syncope clinic (RASCL). Our aim was to assess the impact of the pathway on unscheduled care in terms of admission rates, length of stay and referrals to RASCL.

Data were collected on three occasions: before the introduction of the pathway, immediately after and again 14 months later. Those patients with a diagnostic ICD-10 code of ‘syncope and collapse’ or ‘orthostatic hypotension’ presenting to the QEUH (both emergency department and immediate assessment unit, via GP referral) were identified.

There were 779 patients identified, 538 were included for analysis once other diagnoses were excluded: 46% were male with an age range from 16 to 95 years with a median age of 65.5 years.

All high-risk patients were admitted. For intermediate-risk patients the admission rate fell from 62% to 52% immediately after pathway introduction and after one year to 42%, suggesting sustained improvement (p=0.08). Admission for low-risk patients after one year of pathway roll out fell from 27% to 12% (p=0.04). The median length of stay prior to introduction was three days, this fell to one day one-year post-pathway, saving 56 bed days per month.

In conclusion, a syncope pathway and RASCL has reduced admission of low-risk patients, provided appropriate follow-up for intermediate risk, and reduced length of stay for those requiring admission.

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November 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:141–4 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.041

Lipid testing and treatment after acute myocardial infarction: no flags for the flagship

Louise Aubiniere-Robb, Jonathan E Dickerson, Adrian J B Brady


National guidelines on lipid modification for cardiovascular disease advise checking a lipid profile in all patients admitted with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). It has been demonstrated that ACS can impact lipid profiles in an unpredictable fashion, so cholesterol measurements should be taken within 24 hours of an infarct. National guidelines also recommend initiating early high-intensity lipid-lowering therapy (i.e. statins) in ACS for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. We first assess compliance with these guidelines in a large city-centre teaching hospital and identify the need for any improvement. Following varied interventions aimed at highlighting the need for adherence to these guidelines we demonstrate a large increase in the number of ACS patients having lipids checked within 24 hours of their admission. In some instances, baseline cholesterol was not measured (either at all or prior to statin therapy), potentially leaving familial and non-familial hypercholesterolaemia undiagnosed. Encouragingly, statins are already prescribed in accordance with guidelines for the majority of ACS patients regardless of our campaign. We ultimately demonstrate there is still much work to be done locally to improve cholesterol management in ACS and hope that our findings will encourage others to ensure compliance and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

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November 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:153–6 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.042

The permanent decline of temporary pacing

Richard Baker, David Wilson


Emergency transvenous temporary pacing is a potentially lifesaving procedure that can be associated with significant complications. Historically, this procedure was performed by relatively inexperienced doctors. In recent years, there have been moves to improve the delivery of emergency pacing in UK hospitals.

We aimed to identify trends in temporary pacing experience among medical registrars in the southwest of England between 2008 and 2016. Registrars currently or previously accrediting with General Internal Medicine (GIM) were surveyed about experience in emergency transvenous pacing.

There have been significant changes in the delivery of temporary pacing over the two time points. Significantly fewer temporary pacing wires had been inserted by medical registrars in 2016 compared with 2008: mean 4.51 versus 9.82 (p<0.0001). Significantly more medical registrars had never inserted a temporary pacing wire in 2016 compared with 2008: 57/84 (67.9%) versus 18/94 (19.1%), p<0.0001. Registrars increasingly did not rate themselves to be fully competent to perform the procedure in 2016, 76/84 (90%), compared with 54/92 (59%) in 2008, p=0.0097. Perceptions regarding who should provide this service have changed. In 2008, 65/92 (79.6%) thought cardiologists should be the sole operators compared with 81/84 (96.4%) in 2016.

In conclusion, there has been a significant change in the provision of emergency temporary pacing services from 2008 to 2016. UK medical registrars no longer have the experience to perform this procedure. It is hoped that a rapidly delivered, cardiology-led pacing service will continue to improve safety and patient care.

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October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:149–52 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.033

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement in patients with systolic heart failure

Tariq Enezate, Jad Omran, Obai Abdullah, Ehtisham Mahmud


New York Heart Association (NYHA) class IV heart failure is one of the factors used in predicting in-hospital mortality in patients undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The effect of systolic heart failure (SHF), aside from NYHA classification, on peri-procedural outcomes is unclear.

The study population was identified from the 2016 Nationwide Readmissions Data database using International Classification of Diseases-Tenth Revision codes for TAVR and SHF. Study end points included in-hospital all-cause mortality, the length of hospital stay, cardiogenic shock, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), acute kidney injury (AKI), mechanical complications of prosthetic valve, bleeding, and 30-day readmission rate. Propensity matching was used to create a control group of TAVR patients without a SHF diagnosis (TAVR-C).

A total of 5,674 patients were included in each group (mean age 79.9 years; 35.6% female). The groups were comparable in terms of baseline characteristics and comorbidities. TAVR-SHF was associated with significantly higher in-hospital all-cause mortality (2.7% vs. 1.9%, p<0.01), longer hospital stay (7.5 vs. 5.5 days, p<0.01), higher cardiogenic shock (5.1% vs. 1.6%, p<0.01), AMI (4.0% vs. 1.9%, p<0.01), AKI (18.7% vs. 12.4%, p<0.01) and mechanical complications of prosthetic valve (1.2% vs. 0.6%, p<0.01). There was no significant difference between TAVR-SHF and TAVR-C in terms of bleeding (19.5% vs. 18.2%, p=0.08) and 30-day readmission rate (10.8% vs. 10.2%, p=0.29).

Compared with TAVR-C, TAVR-SHF was associated with higher in-hospital peri-procedural complications and all-cause mortality.

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October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:157–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.034

The effect of ageing on the frontal QRS-T angle on the 12-lead ECG

Sadia Chaudhry, Jagan Muthurajah, Keoni Lau, Han B Xiao


The frontal QRS-T angle (QTA) is widely available on routine 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs), but its practical significance is little recognised. An abnormally wide QTA is known to be a prognostic predictor of cardiovascular events. It has even been considered as a stronger prognostic predictor than the commonly used ECG parameters including ST-T abnormality and QT prolongation. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of ageing on the QTA in a low-risk population where there were no obvious ECG abnormalities. Having analysed 437 consecutive patients, we found a positive correlation between age and QTA, but no age difference in heart rate, QRS duration, QT interval and P-wave axis. As hypertension was more prevalent in older patients, we compared patients with hypertension to those without and found no significant difference in QTA. Therefore, ageing alone is a significant contributory factor to the widening of QRS-T angle. Further study to confirm QTA as a prognostic predictor for all-cause mortality, independent of age itself and in the absence of ECG abnormalities, in an older population would be significant.

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October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:145–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.035

Clinical CMR: one-year case mix, outcomes and stress-testing accuracy from a regional tertiary centre

Protik Chaudhury, Min Aung, Rossella Barbagallo, Edward Barden, Swamy Gedela, Stuart J Harris, Henry O Savage, Jason N Dungu


Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging has developed into a crucial diagnostic tool in all patients with known or suspected heart disease. The aim of this study was to review real-world data regarding the case mix and performance of stress CMR for the large Essex region, a population of 1.4 million.

All studies from April 2017 to April 2018 were reviewed. All scans were performed on a 1.5-T scanner (Siemens MAGNETOM Aera). We have not included research scans or repeat studies. A total of 1,706 clinical studies were performed, including 592 adenosine stress perfusion scans (35%). Mean age of patients was 59 years ± 16 (range 16–97) and the majority were male (66%). Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was diagnosed in 28% of patients. Objective ischaemia was evident in 226 cases (38% of all stress scans). The positive predictive value of stress imaging was 91%. Non-ischaemic cardiomyopathies were diagnosed in 598 patients (35%), including dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM, 23%) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM, 8%) as the most common phenotypes. The mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was 51% across all groups (range 3–78%) with a significant difference between ischaemic and non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy (48% vs. 41%, p<0.0001); despite this, there was no significant difference in survival (p=0.177).

In conclusion, stress perfusion imaging accurately identifies true-positive ischaemia, as well as offering additional information regarding cardiac structure. The burden of non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy in Essex is significant, with 50 new diagnoses per month, across five hospitals. Coordination of services is needed to standardise practice and management of cardiomyopathy patients.

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October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:137–40 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.036

PCSK9 inhibitors in familial hypercholesterolaemia: a real-world experience and a meta-analysis

Harshal Deshmukh, Deepa Narayanan, Maria Papageorgiou, Yvonne Holloway, Sadaf Ali, Thozhukat Sathyapalan


Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors have opened a new avenue in the management of dyslipidaemia in patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), but real-world experience with PCSK9 inhibitors is limited.

We aimed to explore the efficacy and safety of PCSK9 inhibitors in a single-centre study, and to conduct a meta-analysis of the available observational studies to report pooled data on these efficacy and safety parameters.

The Hull PCSK9 inhibitor study consisted of patients from the Lipid Clinic at the Hull Royal Infirmary–Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust during the period 2016–2018. Patients with FH and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) were screened for eligibility and were prescribed PCSK9 inhibitors. Lipid profile, liver function, renal function, and creatine kinase levels were measured at baseline and after a 12-week follow-up. For the meta-analysis, review of the literature identified six additional observational studies for FH, which were used to calculate pooled percentage low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (LDL-C) reduction.

The Hull PCSK9 inhibitor study consisted of 16 patients with definite FH (LDL-receptor mutation-positive), 20 patients with clinical FH and 15 patients with ASCVD with a mean age of 60.6 ± 13.9 years, 60% female. Baseline median (interquartile range) LDL-C levels (mmol/L) in the definite FH, clinical FH and ASCVD were 4.9 (4.6–5.9), 6.7 (5.3–7.1) and 4.4 (4.1–4.7). After 12 weeks, the LDL-C levels (mmol/L) dropped significantly (p<0.0001) in all three groups to 2.0 (1.6–3.4), 2.3 (1.9–2.6) and 2.2 (1.7–2.8) in the definite FH, clinical FH and ASCVD groups, respectively. The meta-analysis of the seven observational studies in 446 patients with FH showed pooled mean reduction of 55.5 ± 18.1% in the LDL-C levels, with 58% of patients reaching treatment targets. Treatment-associated side effects occurred in 6% to 45% of patients, and 0–15% of patients discontinued treatment due to intolerable side effects.

In conclusion, we showed that PCSK9 inhibitors are overall well-tolerated when used in real-world settings, and their efficacy is comparable with that reported in clinical trials. Longitudinal population-based registries are needed to monitor responses to treatment, treatment adherence and side effects of these lipid-lowering agents.

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October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:159–60 doi:10.5837/bjc.2019.037

Atypical presentation of STEMI with pericardial effusion causing cardiac tamponade related to malignancy

Matthew J Johnson, Rohan Penmetcha


Cardiac tamponade and myocardial infarction (MI) are rare as the initial presentation of a malignancy. ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and cardiac tamponade have been described to present together in the setting of a type-A aortic dissection causing coronary malperfusion. We describe a case with an atypical presentation of an MI due to a thrombus in the right coronary artery occurring simultaneously with a pericardial effusion causing tamponade physiology, related to malignancy. We present this unique case of MI and cardiac tamponade as it was not caused by a type-A aortic dissection. We suggest that malignancy be considered in the differential diagnosis when these findings present together.

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News and views

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November 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:128–9

In briefs


October 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26(4)

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