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Clinical articles

January 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.001

The impact of COVID-19 on cardiology training

Samuel Conway, Ali Kirresh, Alex Stevenson, Mahmood Ahmad

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has produced a dramatic shift in how we practise medicine, with changes in working patterns, clinical commitments and training. Cardiology trainees in the UK have experienced a significant loss in training opportunities due to the loss of specialist outpatient clinics and reduction in procedural work, with those on subspecialty fellowships perhaps losing out the most. Training days, courses and conferences have also been cancelled or postponed. Many trainees have been redeployed during the crisis, and routes of career progression have been greatly affected, prompting concerns about extensions in training time, along with effects on mental health.

With the pandemic ongoing and its effects on training likely long-lasting, we examine areas for improvement and opportunities for change in preparation for the ‘new normal’, including how other specialties have adapted. The increasingly routine use of video conferencing and online education has been a rare positive of the pandemic, and simulation will play a larger role. A more coordinated, national approach will need to be introduced to ensure curriculum components are covered and trainees around the country have equal access to ensure cardiology training in the UK remains world class.

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January 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.002

Lockdown cardiomyopathy: from a COVID-19 pandemic to a loneliness pandemic

Baskar Sekar, Hibba Kurdi, David Smith

Abstract

Social distancing/isolation is vital for infection control but can adversely impact on mental health. As the spread of COVID-19 is contained, mental health issues will surface with particular concerns for elderly, isolated populations. We present a case of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy related to lockdown anxiety.

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January 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.003

Pneumopericardium in a patient with trisomy 21 and COVID-19 following emergency pericardiocentesis

Apurva H Bharucha, Ritesh Kanyal, James W Aylward, Parthipan Sivakumar, Ian Webb

Abstract

We describe a case of pneumopericardium following emergency pericardiocentesis in a patient with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

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January 2021 Br J Cardiol 2021;28(1) doi :10.5837/bjc.2021.005

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

Patrick J Highton, Amit Mistri, Andre Ng, Karen Glover, Kamlesh Khunti, Samuel Seidu

Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) increases cardio-embolic stroke risk, yet AF diagnosis and subsequent prophylactic anticoagulant prescription rates are suboptimal globally. This project aimed to increase AF diagnosis and subsequent anticoagulation prescription rates in East Midlands Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

This service improvement evaluation of the East Midlands AF Advance programme investigated the implementation of mobile AF detection devices (Kardia, AliveCor) into primary-care practices within East Midlands CCGs, along with audit tools and clinician upskilling workshops designed to increase AF diagnosis and anticoagulation prescription rates. AF prevalence and prescription data were collected quarterly from July to September (Q3) 2017/18 to April to June/July to September (Q2/3) 2018/19.

AF prevalence increased from 1.9% (22,975 diagnoses) in Q3 2017/18 to 2.4% (24,246 diagnoses) in Q2 2018/19 (p=0.026), while the percentage of high-risk AF patients receiving anticoagulants increased from 80.5% in Q3 2017/18 to 86.9% in Q3 2018/19 (p=0.57), surpassing the Public Health England 2019 target of 85%.

The East Midlands AF Advance programme increased AF diagnosis and anticoagulation rates, which is expected to be of significant clinical benefit. The mobile AF detection devices provide a more practical alternative to traditional 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs) and should be incorporated into routine clinical practice for opportunistic AF detection, in combination with medication reviews to increase anticoagulant prescription.

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December 2020 Br J Cardiol 2020;27:115–8 doi :10.5837/bjc.2020.035

Clinical application of physical-activity monitoring in patients with CIEDs

Kara Callum, David J Muggeridge, Oonagh M Giggins, Daniel R Crabtree, Trish Gorely, Stephen J Leslie

Abstract

Regular physical activity for secondary prevention in cardiovascular disease has many well-recognised benefits, with declines in physical activity being associated with worsening cardiovascular disease, suboptimal treatment or worsening comorbidities that might be rectified by early intervention. Most cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIED) now have the ability to detect, analyse and interpret physical activity data through an inbuilt accelerometer. Currently, these data are not being utilised to their full potential. We present three cases that demonstrate some of the possible uses of CIED-collected physical-activity data. These data have the potential to detect a deteriorating patient, to monitor the effects of an intervention, and/or provide motivational feedback to a patient. However, for the data to be used in this manner in the future, greater transparency from manufacturers and robust validation studies will be needed.

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December 2020 Br J Cardiol 2020;27:124–5 doi :10.5837/bjc.2020.036

DOACs for stroke prevention in patients with AF and cancer

Dipal Mehta, Avirup Guha, Peter K MacCallum, Amitava Banerjee, Charlotte Manisty, Thomas Crake, Mark Westwood, Daniel M Jones, Arjun K Ghosh

Abstract

Stroke prophylaxis in atrial fibrillation is an important consideration in patients with cancer. However, there is little consensus on the choice of anticoagulation, due to the numerous difficulties associated with active cancer. Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have been shown to be a promising option. Here, we conduct a simple cross-sectional analysis of 29 cancer patients receiving DOACs for stroke prophylaxis in atrial fibrillation at a tertiary-care institution in London. Our study demonstrates an encouraging efficacy and safety profile of DOACs used in this setting. We conclude by suggesting that, while DOACs may be useful, anticoagulation in cancer patients should continue to be individualised.

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December 2020 Br J Cardiol 2020;27:126–8 doi :10.5837/bjc.2020.037

Timely discharge of low-risk STEMI patients admitted for primary PCI in an Essex cardiothoracic centre

Izza Arif, Rajender Singh

Abstract

Data for low-risk ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients in the Essex cardiothoracic centre (CTC) during a three-month period were evaluated and the average duration of admission was calculated to be 67.2 hours. The data were sifted by applying Second Primary Angioplasty in Myocardial Infarction (PAMI-II) criteria for low-risk STEMI patients who could be safely discharged after 48 hours. After application of a proforma as a quality improvement intervention tool, data were re-assessed and the average time of admission observed for a similar cohort of patients dropped down to an average of 55.2 hours. Overall, there was a 13% average increase in rate of early discharge for low-risk STEMI patients.

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December 2020 Br J Cardiol 2020;27:129–31 doi :10.5837/bjc.2020.038

Is there a need to measure pre- and post-capillary blood glucose following a cardiac exercise class?

Tim P Grove, Neil E Hill

Abstract

Exercise training is associated with positive health outcomes in people with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, fear of hypoglycaemia is a potential barrier to participants attending a cardiac exercise class. Therefore, we assessed the capillary blood glucose (CBG) responses to the Imperial NHS Trust cardiac exercise class.

Forty patients (median age 66 years, interquartile range [IQR] 57–74 years) with CVD and T2DM treated with insulin and/or sulfonylureas completed a cardiac exercise class. CBG was measured immediately before and after the exercise class. Subgroup analysis assessed CBG levels in patients who had consumed food <2 and ≥2 hours and had taken their insulin and/or sulfonylureas <4 and ≥4 hours before the exercise class.

Overall, post-exercise CBG had significantly decreased (–3.0 mmol/L, p0.0001). Subgroup analyses demonstrated significant reductions in CBG in both food consumption groups (<2 hours –2.9 mmol/L, p≤0.0001, and ≥2 hours –3.1 mmol/L, p≤0.0001) and medication groups (<4 hours –3.4 mmol/L, p≤0.0002, and ≥4 hours –2.7 mmol/L, p≤0.0001). However, there were no significant differences in CBG between the food consumption groups and the medication groups, respectively (p=0.7 and p=0.3).

Cardiac exercise classes resulted in significant reductions in CBG levels. However, the timing of food consumption or medication intake did not influence the magnitude of CBG decline after the cardiac exercise class.

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December 2020 Br J Cardiol 2020;27:141–2 doi :10.5837/bjc.2020.039

C-reactive protein: a prognostic indicator for sudden cardiac death post-myocardial infarction

Jordan Faulkner, Francis A Kalu

Abstract

The inflammatory component of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is well recognised. An elderly male, following primary percutaneous coronary intervention (pPCI) for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), had, otherwise unexplained, severely elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) prior to sudden cardiac death (SCD). Post-mortem showed only old infarct, no re-stenosis, and no evidence of inflammation elsewhere. The levels of CRP in this case are much higher than those documented previously in IHD. Current guidelines advocate for implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implantation after acute coronary syndrome (ACS) only in the context of left ventricular ejection fraction <35%, therefore, this patient would not qualify. Multiple risk-stratification tools have been developed to widen ICD prescription after ACS, but have not yet been integrated into the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. This case is a poignant reminder that we must widen ICD prescription, and CRP should be considered as a likely predictor.

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December 2020 Br J Cardiol 2020;27:143–4 doi :10.5837/bjc.2020.040

Quadricuspid aortic valve: a case report and review of the literature

Nicholas Cereceda-Monteoliva, Massimo Capoccia, Kwabena Mensah, Ruediger Stenz, Mario Petrou

Abstract

Quadricuspid aortic valve (QAV) is a rare congenital anomaly that can present as aortic insufficiency later in life. We report a case of aortic regurgitation associated with a QAV, treated by aortic valve replacement. The patient presented with breathlessness, lethargy and peripheral oedema. Echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance revealed abnormal aortic valve morphology and coronary angiography was normal. The presence of a quadricuspid aortic valve was confirmed intra-operatively. This was excised and replaced with a bioprosthetic valve and the patient recovered well postoperatively. Importantly, the literature indicates that specific QAV morphology and associated structural abnormalities can lead to complications. Hence, early detection and diagnosis of QAV allows effective treatment. Aortic valve surgery is the definitive treatment strategy in patients with aortic valve regurgitation secondary to QAV. However, the long-term effects and complications of treatment of this condition remain largely unknown.

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