January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.003
Nicholas P Gall, Stephen James, Lesley Kavi
There is emerging evidence that a proportion of patients who develop long (post)-COVID-19 have abnormalities in the regulation of their autonomic nervous system manifesting as postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS). We report a series of 14 patients who developed symptoms and signs compatible with PoTS following clinically diagnosed COVID-19 infection. Their symptoms and clinical findings were consistent with those of patients with non-COVID-related PoTS. The authors recommend an active stand test for patients who present after COVID-19 infection with cardiovascular symptoms including chest pain, palpitations, light-headedness and breathlessness that are worse with the upright posture. They further recommend training of clinicians and investment in health services to provide for the anticipated significant increase in patients presenting with PoTS and other forms of autonomic dysfunction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.004
Sachintha Perera, Sudhir Rathore, Joanne Shannon, Peter Clarkson, Matthew Faircloth, Vinod Achan
Presentation and outcomes of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) may change during viral pandemics. We compared symptom-to-call (STC), call-to-balloon (CTB), door-to-balloon (DTB) times; high-sensitivity troponin (hs-cTnI) levels; and survival of patients (n=39) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (defined as a ‘COVID period’ starting four weeks before lockdown) to historical controls from a ‘pre-COVID period’ (n=45).
STEMI admissions fell one week before lockdown by 29%. Median STC times began to rise one month before lockdown (54 vs. 25 min, p=0.06), with peak increases between 9 March and 5 April (166 vs. 59 min, p=0.04). Median CTB and DTB times were unchanged. Mean peak hs-cTnI increased during COVID-19 (15,225 vs. 8,852 ng/ml, p=0.004). Six-month survival following all STEMI reduced (82.1% vs. 95.6%, p<0.05).
STC times are the earliest indicator that STEMI-patient behaviour changed four weeks before lockdown, correlating with higher troponin levels and reduced survival. These early signals could guide public health interventions during future pandemics.
January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.005
Carys Barton, Simon Gordon, Afsana Safa, Carla M Plymen
Heart failure (HF) is increasingly common and incurs a substantial cost, both in terms of quality and length of life, but also in terms of societal and economic impact. While significant gains are being made in the therapeutic management of HF, we continue to diagnose most patients when they are acutely unwell in hospital, often with advanced disease.
This article presents our experience in working collaboratively with primary care colleagues to redesign our HF pathway with the aim of facilitating earlier, community, diagnosis of HF. In so doing, and, thus, starting prognostic therapy much earlier in the course of the disease, we seek to avoid both the cost of emergency hospitalisation and the cost of poorer outcomes.
January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.001
Katie White, Uzma Faruqi, Alexander (Ander) T Cohen
Bleeding is the commonest and most concerning adverse event associated with anticoagulants. Bleeding, depending on the severity, is managed in various ways, and for severe or life-threatening bleeding, specific antidotes are indicated and recommended. This review provides guidance relating to specific direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) reversal agents, the antidotes. We discuss their indications for use, dosing, and potential side effects.
January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.002
Kieran F Docherty, John J V McMurray
In randomised, placebo- or active-controlled trials in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), each of the combination of a neprilysin inhibitor and an angiotensin-receptor blocker (i.e. sacubitril/valsartan), a beta blocker, a mineralocorticoid-receptor antagonist and a sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor have been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality, firmly establishing the role of these five agents, prescribed as four pills, as foundational therapy for HFrEF. Traditionally, the guideline-advocated strategy for the initiation of these therapies was based on the historical order in which the landmark clinical trials were performed, and the requirement to up-titrate each individual drug to the target dose (or maximally tolerated dose below this) prior to initiation of another therapy. This process could take six months or more to complete, during which time patients would not be taking one or more of these life-saving drugs. Recently an alternative, evidence-based, rapid three-step sequencing strategy has been proposed with the aim of establishing HFrEF patients on low-doses of all four foundational treatments within four weeks. This strategy is based on the premise that the benefits of each of these therapies are independent and additive to the others, the benefits are apparent at low doses early following initiation, and a specific ordering of therapies may increase likelihood of tolerance of others. This article will outline this novel rapid-sequencing strategy and provide an evidence-based framework to support its adoption into clinical practice.
November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:155–62 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.051
Rea Ganatra, Robert Smith
Mitral regurgitation is a common valvular heart disorder increasing with age. Many patients are ineligible for mitral valve surgery due to their age and other comorbidities. Left untreated, patients develop severe disease with a poor prognosis. The development of lower risk percutaneous mitral valve interventions has helped meet the needs of this previously untreated patient group. This review explores the recent and more established developments that have expanded the armamentarium for transcatheter mitral valve intervention.
November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:134–38 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.048
Patrick Tran, Leeann Marshall, Ian Patchett, Handi Salim, Shamil Yusuf, Sandeep Panikker, Michael Kuehl, Faizel Osman, Prithwish Banerjee, Harpal Randeva, Tarvinder Dhanjal
Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) can prevent sudden cardiac death, but the risk of recurrent ventricular arrhythmia (VA) and ICD shocks persist. Strategies to minimise such risks include medication optimisation, device programming and ventricular tachycardia (VT) ablation. Whether the choice of these interventions at follow-up are influenced by factors such as the type of arrhythmia or ICD therapy remains unclear. To investigate this, we evaluated ICD follow-up strategies in a real-world population with primary and secondary prevention ICDs.
REFINE-VT (Real-world Evaluation of Follow-up strategies after Implantable cardiac-defibrillator therapies in patients with Ventricular Tachycardia) is an observational study of 514 ICD recipients recruited between 2018 and 2019. We found that 77 patients (15%) suffered significant VA and/or ICD therapies, of whom 26% experienced a second event; 31% received no intervention. We observed an inconsistent approach to the choice of strategies across different types of arrhythmias and ICD therapies. Odds of intervening were significantly higher if ICD shock was detected compared with anti-tachycardia pacing (odds ratio [OR] 8.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.7 to 39.6, p=0.007). Even in patients with two events, the rate of escalation of anti-arrhythmics or referral for VT ablation were as low as patients with single events.
This is the first contemporary study evaluating how strategies that reduce the risk of recurrent ICD events are executed in a real-world population. Significant inconsistencies in the choice of interventions exist, supporting the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to provide evidence-based care to this population.
November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:144–7 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.049
Jamie Sin Ying Ho, George Collins, Vikram Rohra, Laura Korb, Bhathika Perera
We performed a single-centre study to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in psychiatry outpatients with intellectual disability (ID) using the QRISK-3 score.
There were 143 patients known to the ID psychiatry clinic enrolled. Of these, 28 (19.6%) had elevated CVD risk – defined as 10-year risk of heart attack or stroke of ≥10%. Of these, 57.1% were not prescribed statin therapy, which – after lifestyle measures – is recommended by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. The mean QRISK-3 score was 6.31% (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.84 to 7.78), with a relative risk of 3.50 (95%CI 2.34 to 4.67) compared with matched controls.
The high CVD risk identified in this study supports routine CVD risk assessment and management in adult outpatients with ID. Appropriate lifestyle measures and statin therapy could help reduce the excess CVD-related morbidity and mortality in ID patients.
November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:148–52 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.050
Kay Dowling, Amanda Colling, Harriet Walters, Badrinathan Chandrasekaran, Helen Rimington
Transthoracic echocardiography presents a risk of COVID-19 transmission between an echocardiographer and the patient. Reducing the scanning time is likely to mitigate this risk for them both. British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) level 1 echocardiography offers a potential framework for focused scanning in an outpatient setting. There were 116 outpatients scheduled for a level 1 scan supplemented with additional pre-defined views, if required. Unexpectedly, a fifth of the scans were performed as an unintended full scan for a variety of reasons. Our results showed that focused scans were performed more quickly than full scans and below the NHS Test and Trace exposure cut-off of 15 minutes. However, if more than three sets of additional measurements were required then a full scan could be performed more quickly. Seniority of the echocardiographer and scan time had an inverse relationship. By examining the patients’ clinical records we were confident that all of the scans, whether focused or full, had answered the requestor’s clinical question. Although the COVID-19 vaccination programme should reduce the necessity of minimising exposure time during a scan there could still be a role for level 1 scanning during the COVID-19 recovery programme to tackle the vast lists of patients waiting for an echocardiogram.
October 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:139–43 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.042
Angela Hall, Andrew Robert John Mitchell, Lisa Ashmore, Carol Holland
Quality of life (QoL) is an essential consideration when managing the wellbeing of patients and assists in interpretation of symptoms, functional status and perceptions. Atrial fibrillation (AF) and diabetes demand significant healthcare resources. Existing data demonstrate a negative impact on QoL as individual conditions, but there is less evidence relating to the impact of these disease groups in combination. This study therefore explores QoL in patients with AF and diabetes.
This cross-sectional, observational study required participants to complete the short form (SF)-36 survey via an online platform and was offered to people affected by AF alone and people with AF and diabetes in combination. The SF-36 provides a prevalidated tool with eight domains relating to physical and psychological health.
A total of 306 surveys were completed (231 AF group, 75 AF and diabetes group). The mean and standard deviation (SD) were calculated for each QoL domain, after re-coding in accordance with SF-36 guidance. Multi-variate analysis of variance (MANOVA) demonstrated an overall significant difference between the groups when considered jointly across all domains. There were significant differences between AF and AF with diabetes QoL responses in physical functioning, energy fatigue, emotional wellbeing, social functioning and pain. In these domains, the mean was highest in the AF group. There were no significant differences in the role physical, role emotional and general health domains.
In conclusion, this study demonstrates that diabetes and AF has a more detrimental effect on QoL than AF alone, in the majority of domains. Further research into the general AF population and where chronic conditions co-exist is important to comprehend the true impact this disease combination has on QoL.