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Clinical articles

January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.001

New agents for DOAC reversal: a practical management review

Katie White, Uzma Faruqi, Alexander (Ander) T Cohen

Abstract

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.

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January 2022 Br J Cardiol 2022;29(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2022.002

Foundational drugs for HFrEF: the growing evidence for a rapid sequencing strategy

Kieran F Docherty, John J V McMurray

Abstract

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.

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November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:155–62 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.051

Transcatheter mitral valve intervention

Rea Ganatra, Robert Smith

Abstract

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.

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November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:134–38 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.048

Real-world evaluation of follow-up strategies after ICD therapies in patients with VT (REFINE-VT)

Patrick Tran, Leeann Marshall, Ian Patchett, Handi Salim, Shamil Yusuf, Sandeep Panikker, Michael Kuehl, Faizel Osman, Prithwish Banerjee, Harpal Randeva, Tarvinder Dhanjal

Abstract

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.

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November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:144–7 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.049

Statin prescription and CV risk assessment in adult psychiatric outpatients with intellectual disability

Jamie Sin Ying Ho, George Collins, Vikram Rohra, Laura Korb, Bhathika Perera

Abstract

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.

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November 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:148–52 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.050

Piloting structured focused TTE in outpatients during the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘old habits die hard’

Kay Dowling, Amanda Colling, Harriet Walters, Badrinathan Chandrasekaran, Helen Rimington

Abstract

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.

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October 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:139–43 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.042

Quality of life among people with atrial fibrillation with and without diabetes: a comparison study

Angela Hall, Andrew Robert John Mitchell, Lisa Ashmore, Carol Holland

Abstract

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.

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October 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:128–133 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.043

Pain during cardiac implantable electronic device implantation

David G Wilson, Nicki Brewster, Robin J Taylor, Amelia Trevelyan, Michail Apostolakis, Deepak Goyal, Will Foster, Elaine Walklet, Eleanor Bradley

Abstract

In order to evaluate the extent and causes of pain during cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) implantation in our hospital, a prospective audit over a 23-month period using a patient self-reporting questionnaire was undertaken.

In total, 599 procedures were reported, 52.9% for de novo pacemaker implantation and 23.4% for high-energy devices (cardiac resynchronisation therapy defibrillator [CRT-D], implantable cardiac defibrillator [ICD], subcutaneous ICD). Overall, the median pain score was 2/10 (interquartile range 2–4). In total, 61.6% (367/599) reported no pain or mild pain (pain scores 0–3/10), 27.7% (165/599) reported moderate pain (pain score of 4–6/10) and 10.7% (64/599) reported severe pain (pain score of 7–10/10) during the procedure. Significant pre-implant worry (odds ratio [OR] 2.13, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22 to 3.73) and higher lidocaine doses (OR 1.06, 95%CI 1.00 to 1.11) were associated with severe patient-reported pain.

In conclusion, most patients underwent CIED implantation with minimum stress and maximum comfort. An important minority reported severe pain during the procedure. Optimising surgical technique and interventions targeted at reducing pre- and peri-implant worry, particularly in women, and especially in those receiving ICDs, warrants further investigation to reduce patient-reported pain during CIED implantation.

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October 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:153–4 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.044

Analysis of the trend in community prescribing of RAAS inhibitors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Layla Guscoth, Sam Hodgson

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has sparked novel research and insights, but also concerns and anxiety regarding established practices. Early into the pandemic, public and scientific concern was raised regarding the role of renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors on the susceptibility to COVID-19 given their effect on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2), the host receptor for the virus. This gathered media attention globally, despite several health boards encouraging the ongoing use of these medications. We aimed to investigate whether, despite advice supporting continued use of these medications, there was a change in prescribing practices for RAAS inhibitors in general practice. Data were collated from the NHS digital platform, which provides monthly practice-level prescribing information for all primary care practices in England. We performed an interrupted time-series analysis on national-level prescribing data comparing time-series coefficients pre- and post-March 2020 with metformin used as a control. We find that from March to December 2020, prescribing rates of RAAS inhibitors were reduced relative to the previous time-series trend. This finding persisted after adjustment for rates of metformin prescription. This suggests that there was a change in prescribing behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may be linked to the public and scientific concerns during this time.

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October 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28:163–5 doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.046

Loperamide-induced ventricular tachycardia storm

Mohamed Daoub, Philippa Cawley, Jonathan Sahu

Abstract

Loperamide is an over-the-counter, peripherally-acting, µ-opioid receptor agonist commonly used in the treatment of diarrhoea. It has increasingly been recognised as a potential drug of misuse, having previously been thought to have low potential for abuse owing to its low bioavailability and poor penetration of the central nervous system. High doses can result in life-threatening cardiac-toxicity.

We present a case of a young woman who had been self-treating her depression with high doses of loperamide for one year, who then presented to hospital with syncope secondary to ventricular tachycardia (VT). While in the emergency department (ED) the patient had monomorphic pulseless VT requiring electrical cardioversion multiple times. Transfer to a tertiary cardiac centre was immediately arranged after she was stabilised and intubated. This complicated the diagnostic process as a thorough history could not be obtained on arrival to the tertiary centre, which meant the loperamide misuse only came to light multiple days into admission, after the patient was extubated. The final diagnosis of loperamide-induced secondary long-QT syndrome was made and the patient made a full recovery.

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