2021, Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 81–120

2021, Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 81–120

Editorials Clinical articles News and views
Topics include:-
  • Is too much exercise dangerous?
  • 'Real-life' outcomes and admissions after TAVI
  • Outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy
  • Selexipag in PAH


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June 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:87–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.028

50th anniversary of Ionescu’s pericardial heart valve concept

Sunil Ohri, Suvitesh Luthra


“I will not lose; either I win or I learn” – Marian Ionescu, circa 1971

The pericardial heart valve concept is the remarkable legacy of a man and his genius. His single most defining contribution has changed the course of cardiac surgery over the last half a century and benefitted millions of patients worldwide. Since the initial design by Hufnagel of the ball-cage valve implanted in the descending thoracic aorta (1953) to correct a regurgitant aortic valve, nearly 150 valves have been designed and tested. None has stood the test of time as well as the pericardial valve (figure 1). Since the first successful human implant of the pericardial valve in the mitral position in 1971, 10 million of these have been implanted worldwide. Pericardial valves now constitute 80% of all implanted valves. The invention has driven a multi-billion dollar industry that today forms the backbone of the healthcare technology sector.

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Clinical articles

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September 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:89–94 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.037

Real-life outcomes and readmissions after a TAVI procedure in a Glasgow population

Joanna Osmanska, David Murdoch


Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a routine procedure for patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis who are deemed inoperable or high-risk surgical candidates. The aim of this study was to examine real-world data on death and readmission rates in patients following the procedure.

Electronic health records for patients who underwent TAVI between April 2015 and November 2018 were reviewed. Details of the procedure, complications, length of initial hospital stay and outcomes of interest (subsequent admissions and mortality) were recorded.

In our cohort of 124 patients, the mean age was 80.8 years and 43% were male. Cardiac comorbidities were common, more than 30% had myocardial infarction (MI) and 15% had a previous coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). One in five suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with similar prevalence of diabetes mellitus and cerebrovascular accident (CVA). In-hospital mortality was low at 3.3%, however, 30-day readmission rates were high at 14.6%; 44.4% were readmitted to hospital within one year.

TAVI is a successful procedure in Scotland with good outcome data. The potential benefit of the procedure in many patients is limited by comorbidities, which shorten life-expectancy and lead to hospital readmission. These data highlight the importance of effective multi-disciplinary discussion in a time of realistic medicine.

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September 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:98–101 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.038

Outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) service is associated with inpatient-bed cost savings

Chun Shing Kwok, Joanna J Whittaker, Caroline Malbon, Barbara White, Jonathan Snape, Vikki Lloyd, Farah Yazdani, Timothy Kemp, Simon Duckett


In a cardiology department, there are some patients that require long-term antibiotics, such as those with infective endocarditis or infected prosthetic devices. We describe our experience with intravenous antibiotic therapy for patients with cardiology diagnoses who require a period of antibiotics in our outpatient service during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 15 patients were selected to have outpatient antibiotic therapy (age range 36 to 97 years, 60% male). A total of nine patients had infective endocarditis, four patients had infected valve prosthesis or transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) endocarditis, one patient had infected pericardial effusion while another had infected pericarditis. For these 15 patients there was a total of 333 hospital bed-days, on average 22 days per patient. These patients also had a total of 312 days of outpatient antibiotic therapy, which was an average of 21 days per patient. The total cost, if patients were admitted for those days, assuming a night cost £400, was £124,800, which was on average £8,320 per patient. Three patients were readmitted within 30 days. One had ongoing endocarditis that was managed medically and another had pulmonary embolism. The last patient had a side effect related to daptomycin use. In conclusion, outpatient antibiotic therapy in selected patients with native or prosthetic infective endocarditis appears to be safe for a selected group of patients with associated cost savings.

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September 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:109–11 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.039

Heparin-free distal radial artery approach to cardiac catheterisation and the small radial recurrent artery

Pitt O Lim, Ziyad Elghamry


Radial artery access has transformed cardiac catheterisation, allowing it to be performed in a daycase setting, saving both hospital beds, and nursing care costs. However, there are two common and seemingly diametrically opposite complications. These are radial artery occlusion and forearm haematoma; the former could be reduced by heparin, but at the expense of precipitating the latter. These complications increase proportionally to the size of radial artery sheath used. Interestingly, by cannulating the radial artery more distally beyond its bifurcation in the hand, the distal radial approach appears to be the ‘one stone, two birds’ or the synchronous Chinese idiom, ‘yīshí’èrniǎo’s’ solution, reducing both complications at the same time. Extending this further and downsizing to a 4Fr catheter system, heparin use could be spared altogether, without complications, and haemostasis achieved with short manual pressure at the puncture site. Hence, further cost savings by foregoing commercial compression bands, and abolishing access site care for nurses. We illustrate the above strategy in a patient with challenging radial anatomy, made simple and easy.

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September 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:117–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.040

Severe orthostatic hypotension and weight loss associated with cancer therapy

Peter Sever


Two cases of orthostatic hypotension associated with weight loss following cancer treatment are described. Conventional treatments for orthostatic hypotension proved ineffective. A hypothesis of association with skeletal muscle wasting is discussed.

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July 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:102–4 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.031

The ePortfolio in UK cardiology training: time for a new digital platform?

Ahmed Elamin, Mohammed Obeidat, Gershan Davis


The UK cardiology specialist training programme utilises the National Health Service (NHS) e-Portfolio to ensure adequate progression is being made during a trainees’ career. The NHS e-portfolio has been used for 15 years, but many questions remain regarding its perceived learning value and usefulness for trainees and trainers. This qualitative study in the recent pre-COVID era explored the perceived benefits of the NHS e-Portfolio with cardiology trainees and trainers in two UK training deaneries. Questionnaires were sent to 66 trainees and to 50 trainers. 50% of trainees felt that their development had benefited from use of the ePortfolio. 61% of trainees found it an effective educational tool, and 25% of trainees and 39% of trainers found the ePortfolio useful for highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. 75% of trainees viewed workplace based assessments as a means to passing the ARCP. The results show that the NHS ePortfolio and workplace based assessments were perceived negatively by some trainees and trainers alike, with many feeling that significant improvements need to be made. In light of the progress and acceptance of digital technology and communication in the current COVID-19 era, it is likely to be the time for the development of a new optimal digital training platform for cardiology trainees and trainers. The specialist societies could help develop a more speciality specific learning and development tool.

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July 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:105–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.032

Real-world experience of selexipag titration in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Sarah Cullivan, Anandan Natarajan, Niamh Boyle, Ciara McCormack, Sean Gaine, Brian McCullagh


Selexipag is an oral selective prostacyclin-receptor agonist that was approved for use in patients with World Health Organisation (WHO) functional class II–III pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Treatment with individualised doses of selexipag resulted in significant reductions in the composite end point of death or a complication related to PAH in the phase III GRIPHON (Prostacyclin [PGI2] Receptor Agonist In Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension) study. In order to better understand the real-world approach to selexipag titration and to establish the individualised maintenance regimens used in our centre, we performed this retrospective study of the first 20 patients prescribed selexipag. Baseline characteristics differed from the GRIPHON study, with more combination therapy and comorbidities at drug initiation. Maintenance doses were stratified as low-dose in 10% (n=2), medium-dose in 70% (n=14) and high-dose in 20% (n=4). This study highlights that selexipag can be safely initiated, titrated and transitioned in an outpatient setting to achieve an individualised dosing regimen.

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July 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:115–6 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.033

Acute Takotsubo cardiomyopathy as a complication of transoesophageal echocardiogram

Fraser J Graham, Shona M M Jenkins


A 52-year-old woman, referred for transoesophageal echocardiography, developed acute Takotsubo cardiomyopathy during the examination as a result of emotional distress beforehand. Asymptomatic left ventricular apical ballooning with severe systolic dysfunction within minutes of the emotional trigger was the first sign of any abnormality.

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July 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:119–20 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.034

A broad complex tachycardia in a patient on flecainide

Debjit Chatterjee


This is an interesting case of wide complex tachycardia in a patient on flecainide for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Diagnostic possibilities were discussed, actual diagnosis revealed, and explanation provided.

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June 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:112–4 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.029

Liver function monitoring in Fontan-procedure patients: audit of current practice across South Wales

Elliott J Carande, Gergely Szantho


The Fontan procedure provides a palliative surgical repair for complex congenital heart disease, but it is associated with many long-term problems, including liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The current suggestion from international guidance is that end-organ surveillance should be carried out, with a particular focus on regular blood tests and imaging for liver function.

In this study, retrospective analysis was performed on adult patients who had previously had a Fontan operation performed to determine the regularity of end-organ surveillance in regards to their liver function covering the three calendar years from 2016 to 2018, and the first six months of 2019.

Eighty-six patients were identified in South Wales monitored by the adult congenital heart disease unit. We found that the number of investigations performed in the first six months of 2019 was comparable to other calendar years in their entirety. Liver function tests had been performed in 57% of patients throughout 2018, with only 8% having had an alpha-fetoprotein taken, and only 9% having had imaging of the liver performed. Over the course of their lifetime, 97% of patients had had a liver function blood test performed at some point, with 17% having had an alpha-fetoprotein taken, and 49% having their liver imaged.

In conclusion, end-organ surveillance is an important follow-up for patients with a Fontan circulation, with guidelines proposing yearly blood test and imaging investigations. This study shows the opportunities to improve surveillance in this group of patients to highlight the development of liver cirrhosis, and/or hepatocellular carcinoma.

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June 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:95–7 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.030

Can too much exercise be dangerous: what can we learn from the athlete’s heart?

Fang Qin Goh


Exercise prevents and aids treatment of coronary heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, obesity and depression, reduces cardiac events and improves survival. However, evidence suggests that the relationship between exercise and mortality may be curvilinear, with modest additional benefit at higher levels. Intensive exercise has also been associated with increased atrial fibrillation risk, although its clinical implications are not well understood. Other proposed adverse effects of exercise on the heart, including reduced right ventricular function, elevated cardiac biomarkers, myocardial fibrosis and coronary artery calcification, are less substantiated. Current evidence cannot affirm that extreme exercise is dangerous and future studies should combine large cohorts to obtain a statistically reliable limit. Associations between features of the athlete’s heart and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality should also be explored.

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News and views

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September 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28(3)

Book review

Heart valve disease: a guide for patients Author: John Chambers Publisher: NSHI, 2021 ISBN: 978-1-907882-30-2 Price: £8.99 Order via the BHVS website:

July 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:118 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.035

Correspondence: Female medical students’ perspective on barriers to pursuing a career in cardiology

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July 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:101 doi:10.5837/bjc.2021.036

Correspondence: Evaluating the use of a mobile device for detection of atrial fibrillation in primary care

Evaluating the use of a mobile device for detection of atrial fibrillation in primary...