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Clinical articles

January 2018 doi :10.5837/bjc.2018.001 Online First

Cardio-oncology: a new sub-specialty

Jonathan Bennett, Alexander R Lyon, Chris Plummer, Stuart D Rosen, Kai-Keen Shiu

Abstract

This review aims to summarise the cardiovascular complications from cancer treatments and the methods used to prevent, identify, and treat them. 

While the field of cardio-oncology is relatively new, it is developing rapidly in the UK. There is a need to develop services to care for the patients with current cardiac problems, to undertake research and education to identify those patients at higher risk of complications, and to apply modern imaging methods and biomarkers to detect problems early and implement prevention strategies. An evidence-based approach is required to enhance delivery of care and prevent cardiovascular toxicity in this patient population.

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January 2018 doi :10.5837/bjc.2018.002 Online First

Variability in use of IV nitrates and diuretics in acute HF: a ‘virtual patient’ clinical decision-making study

Alison Carr, Fosca De Iorio, Martin R Cowie

Abstract

Despite guidelines on the treatment of acute heart failure (AHF), treatment remains heterogeneous, particularly regarding intravenous (IV) nitrate use. This clinical decision-making study assessed the use of IV nitrates and diuretics by 40 UK hospital physicians, each ‘treating’ the same 10 virtual patients. Semi-structured interviews were performed to investigate participants’ decision-making rationale.

IV nitrates were prescribed in 37% of clinical decisions. Considerable variability was seen in the administration of IV nitrates among physicians. Interview data revealed polarised opinions regarding the efficacy of IV nitrates and the evidence base supporting their use. Physicians’ treatment decisions were more heavily influenced by their perceptions and beliefs regarding IV nitrates than by consideration of the evidence. In contrast, diuretics were prescribed more frequently (78%) and more consistently.

In conclusion, where there is a limited evidence base and no strong recommendation from clinical guidelines, prescribing behaviour for AHF therapies such as IV nitrates are likely to reflect variability in physicians’ beliefs, experiences, and decision-making styles.

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January 2018 doi :10.5837/bjc.2018.004 Online First

Recognition and management of aVR STEMI: a retrospective cohort study

Ruan Vlok, Joshua Wall, Hannah Kempton, Thomas Melhuish, Astin Lee, Leigh White

Abstract

Identification of ST elevation on the electrocardiogram (ECG) is the cornerstone of diagnosis of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). While lesion localisation can usually be achieved by regional ST-elevation patterns on ECG, clinicians often neglect changes in the ST segment of lead aVR, possibly contributing to delayed recognition and poorer outcomes for these patients.

This study compared the ‘door-to-balloon time’ and peak troponins – as a surrogate marker of infarct size – for patients presenting with STEMI with ST-segment elevation in aVR compared with those patients without elevation in aVR. A total of 179 patients, including 17 patients presenting with ST-elevation in aVR, were included in this study. Patients presenting with elevation in aVR had significantly longer door-to-balloon times than those patients presenting with ‘traditional’ patterns of ST-elevation. There was, however, no significant difference in peak troponin as a marker of infarct size. While patients presenting with ST-elevation in lead aVR may have a delayed time to intervention, the present study does not suggest the use of aVR elevation as an indication for urgent angiography.

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November 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:152–5 doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.030

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists

Emma Johns, Gerry McKay, Miles Fisher

Abstract

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists are an injectable glucose-lowering therapy used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Alongside dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, they exert their effect by augmenting the incretin pathway. GLP-1 receptor agonists offer reductions in glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and weight alongside a low risk of hypoglycaemia. The cardiovascular safety of GLP-1 receptor agonists in patients at elevated cardiovascular risk has been examined in large double-blind, placebo-controlled cardiovascular safety trials. Liraglutide demonstrated superiority over placebo with reduced major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in the treatment group. Exenatide, lixisenatide and semaglutide have shown non-inferiority versus placebo for MACE. These trials demonstrated no association between GLP-1 agonist therapy and hospitalisation for heart failure.

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November 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:156–60 doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.031

Beta blocker usage in cardiac CT: a survey of BCSI members

Baltej S Pandher, Samuel D Cripps, Andrew Edwards, Nicholas Hollings, Robin van Lingen

Abstract

To examine the current practice of British Society of Cardiovascular Imaging (BSCI) members in the administration of beta blockers in computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography (CTCA) a 10-point online questionnaire was emailed to all registered members of the British Society of Cardiovascular Imaging. There were 61 respondents: 75% give intravenous (IV) metoprolol in the CT department, the rest a combination of oral and/or IV dosing. Over 50% were happy to administer 50 mg or more. No serious complications related to drug administration had been seen by 82%. Of the remaining 18%, half (six reports) documented severe hypotension and two reported a death. No physical observations were taken by 25%, at any point. Another 27% checked blood pressure before the scan only, 17% measured blood pressure before the scan and immediately after and 28% measured before the scan and after with a delay.

In conclusion, among BSCI members, there is no uniform strategy regarding the route or dose of beta blocker administration, or if, when and what physical observations should be performed. Several severe adverse events have been documented, including two deaths. This, however, is in the context of the large volume of CTCAs performed nationally, and so, despite some doses of beta blocker exceeding British National Formulary recommendations, this appears safe.

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October 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:137–41 doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.025 Online First

Heart rate monitors and fitness trackers: friend or foe?

Edward Doris, Iain Matthews, Honey Thomas

Abstract

Wearable and smartphone-based activity and heart rate (HR) monitors are becoming increasingly common, with around 80 million devices in use in 2017. Wearable and smartphone-based devices may be dedicated HR monitors or part of an activity tracker system. One of the main aims of these devices is to encourage exercise and increase fitness, which is clearly desirable in a society with high levels of inactivity and obesity. These devices provide individuals with large amounts of data including HR information. This may, therefore, give an opportunity to document or diagnose arrhythmias. Undiagnosed atrial fibrillation is a common problem and is associated with a huge burden of potentially preventable stroke. Wearable HR monitors may provide the opportunity to identify these individuals and allow them to receive stroke prevention treatment. However, the consumer fitness market is unregulated and the manufacturers emphasise that their devices are not intended to be used for detecting heart rhythm problems. The reliability, sampling frequency and algorithms for the HR data these devices provide are hugely variable. Detected ‘abnormalities’ may inform clinical decision making but it may also trigger unnecessary anxiety and costly investigations in healthy people.

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October 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:(4) doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.026 Online First

How hard do we look for atrial fibrillation?

Ioannis Merinopoulos, Sajid Alam, David Bloore

Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common arrhythmias, affecting approximately 2% of the general population. Identifying AF after an ischaemic stroke is particularly important as it changes the recommended antithrombotic therapy from antiplatelets to anticoagulation. Currently, there is no clear consensus with regards to the duration of rhythm monitoring post-stroke. In our study, we aim to review some of the pivotal studies regarding rhythm monitoring after an ischaemic stroke and identify the percentage of patients who get referred for prolonged rhythm monitoring after a stroke by providing real-world data from the Ipswich hospital. To our surprise, we did not identify any patients who got referred for prolonged rhythm monitoring (ILR) and the proportion of patients who did not have a 24-hour tape was unexpectedly high. In addition, there was a clear tendency for patients with lacunar strokes not to get investigated with 24-hour tape.

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October 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:(4) doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.027 Online First

The PACI survey: Patient adherence to cardioprotective lifestyle interventions in myocardial infarction patients treated with primary percutaneous coronary intervention

Justin L Mifsud

Abstract

Despite documented evidence of benefits of lifestyle cardioprotective interventions in reducing recurrent coronary heart disease (CHD) events, many patients still fail to adhere to proposed lifestyle interventions. To determine the percentage adherence rate and to identify the perceived barriers influencing adherence rate to cardioprotective lifestyle interventions among patients treated with primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) a cross-sectional survey was designed.

A total of 193 consecutive patients, with a clinical diagnosis of CHD who had a PPCI, were identified retrospectively between 2008 and 2013, and were subsequently telephone surveyed. Data were analysed using chi-square tests and Fisher’s exact tests. At survey, 21.8% of patients smoked cigarettes, 30.6% were adhering to physical activities as per guidelines, 36.3% were consuming five portions of fruits and vegetables per day, and 9.8% were consuming three portions of oily fish per week. Negative stress, low mood, advanced age, poor health, lack of enjoyment from physical activities, low expectations from physical activity benefits, obesity and diabetes, were associated with non-adherence to physical activities as per guidelines.

In conclusion, risk factor targets for secondary prevention were not reached by a large proportion of patients. Several barriers exist among these individuals. Thus, there is still considerable potential for cardiac rehabilitation clinicians to improve standards of preventive cardiology by clearly identifying barriers and ways to overcome them. 

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October 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:(4) doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.028 Online First

Current diagnostic yield of invasive coronary angiography at a district general hospital

Ali Rauf, Sarah Denny, Floyd Pierres, Alice Jackson, Nikolaos Papamichail, Antonis Pavlidis, Khaled Alfakih

Abstract

Invasive coronary angiography (ICA) is an important diagnostic test in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is associated with a small risk and is a relatively expensive procedure. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 2010 guidelines on stable chest pain recommended that patients with stable chest pain and high probability of CAD should be investigated with ICA.

We audited our own practice at a district general hospital (DGH), with a single catheter lab, to assess the yield of significant CAD at ICA in patients presenting with stable chest pain and acute coronary syndromes (ACS). There were 457 patients who were referrals for ICA with stable chest pain and 250 were inpatients undergoing ICA for ACS. The incidence of severe CAD in the whole cohort was 41%, with a further 20% found to have moderate CAD. The prevalence was higher in the ACS subgroup with 55% of patients having severe CAD compared with 33% in the stable chest pain sub-group. Of the patients having ICA for stable chest pain, 72% were direct referrals, with 30% found to have severe CAD. Our data show that overall detection rate of severe CAD in patients presenting with stable chest pain, at ICA, is relatively low.

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August 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:117 doi :10.5837/bjc.2017.023

Brugada syndrome in the context of a fever: a case study and review of current knowledge

Saad Ahmad, Irfan Ahmed

Abstract

Brugada syndrome is a distinct arrhythmogenic disorder widely recognised as a sudden cause of death in the young. It is identified by a classical ST-segment elevation on electrocardiogram (ECG) that may be provoked in the context of a fever or vagal stimulation. The pathophysiology and genetic basis have been elucidated as an abnormality in ion channels. Diagnosis takes into account, not only the ECG, but clinical features and modulating factors; the inducibility of a suspect ECG when febrile is one such observation. Anti-arrhythmic drugs like ajmaline can also induce Brugada syndrome and have a role in its work-up. Electrophysiology studies may be useful in assessment and risk stratification of select cases. The management is centred around device therapy with the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), though pharmacological treatments are being actively pursued.

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