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Clinical articles

February 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:34 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.008

Is six weeks too long for the first outpatient review after cardiac surgery? FORCAST6

Dumbor L Ngaage, Michael R Gooseman, Kerry L Bulliment, Martin A Jarvis, Mubarak A Chaudhry, Alexander R Cale, Michael E Cowen

Abstract

The traditional practice of conducting the first outpatient review six weeks after cardiac surgery is not evidence-based. This study was designed to determine mortality and morbidity in the interval between hospital discharge and the first outpatient follow-up.

We enrolled patients undergoing non-emergency cardiac surgery from June 2016 to May 2017 into this prospective observational study. Prior to hospital discharge, patients were consented and given a questionnaire to document attendance at any healthcare facility. Ethical approval was obtained from the Health Research Authority.

The mean age of the 72 study patients was 68 ± 4 years. The majority underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (56.9%). The six-week postoperative morbidity rate was 38.9% and hospital readmission  15.3%. Morbidity, highest in the first week after discharge, declined to its lowest level by four weeks. Surgical site (13.9%) and respiratory complications (13.9%) were predominant causes of late morbidity. There was no mortality. Most patients (50%) expressed satisfaction with current practice, but a significant number (44.4%) would prefer earlier review.

In conclusion, morbidity during the six-week wait for the first outpatient review after cardiac surgery is not insignificant, but declines over time. Current practice does not seem to enable a positive specialist influence of the post-surgery recovery pathway.

Clinical Trials.gov registration number: NCT02832427

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The future of atrial fibrillation: does the answer lie in ablation or anti-arrhythmics?

February 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:31–3 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.009

The future of atrial fibrillation: does the answer lie in ablation or anti-arrhythmics?

Mark T Mills

Abstract

Anti-arrhythmic drugs and pulmonary vein isolation (with radiofrequency ablation) are established treatment options in the management of atrial fibrillation. Both methods have their advantages and drawbacks. Atrial fibrillation is the consequence of complex systemic and atrial factors, resulting in atrial remodelling. Emerging treatment strategies that target and reverse atrial remodelling may offer a promising alternative to anti-arrhythmics and ablation.

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February 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:38–40 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.011

Coronary vasospasm and concurrent Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

Anthony Brennan, Heath Adams, John Galligan, Robert Whitbourn

Abstract

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC) is characterised by transient left ventricular dysfunction accompanied by apical ballooning of the ventricle. Takotsubo pathophysiology is poorly understood and is often triggered by an emotional or physical stressor. This is a case of a 71-year-old woman who presented with sudden-onset exertional chest pain leading to inferior ST-elevation on electrocardiography (ECG) with a significant troponin rise. Immediate coronary angiography revealed a severe mid-posterior left ventricular (PLV) branch of the right coronary artery stenosis. The left coronary system was normal. Left ventriculogram revealed mid-to-apical ballooning typical of TTC. Considering the disconnect between the coronary and ventriculogram findings, a decision was made to delay percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The patient was treated with heart failure medications and symptoms improved. Repeat angiogram of the mid-PLV after a short period of medical therapy revealed no coronary lesion and the left ventricular function had normalised. These findings suggest that coronary artery vasospasm may have contributed to the aetiology in this case of TTC. This case adds weight to previous theories of an interplay between TTC and coronary vasospasm.

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A survey of post-cardiac rhythm device implantation: movement and mobilisation advice in the UK

January 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:14–8 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.002 Online First

A survey of post-cardiac rhythm device implantation: movement and mobilisation advice in the UK

George Collins, Sarah Hamill, Catherine Laventure, Stuart Newell, Brian Gordon

Abstract

Movement restrictions are given to patients after cardiac rhythm device implantation, despite little consensus, or evidence that they reduce complications. We conducted a UK survey assessing the nature of the advice and if it varies between individuals and institutions. A survey was distributed to cardiac rhythm teams at UK implanting centres. Questions concerned the advice that is given, its source, and who is responsible for providing it.

There were 100 responses from 42 centres. Advice is given by physiologists, nurses, and cardiologists. Advice comes from local protocols, information leaflets, current hospital opinion, manufacturers, national leaflets, published research and audit data. Within and between centres there was little agreement on what the advice should be. Depending on who gives the advice, a number of leisure pursuits were either completely unrestricted or restricted indefinitely. Cardiologists were less restrictive than others.

In conclusion, this is the first UK survey to assess the movement and mobilisation advice given to patients after device implantation. There is variation in the source and nature of advice. Over-restriction could impact on patients’ quality of life. Contradictory advice could cause uncertainty. Further work should determine the impact of this variation and how the effects could be safely mitigated.

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January 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:19–22 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.003 Online First

ICMs can be routinely implanted in a non-theatre environment by a cardiac physiologist

Varun Sharnam, Stelios Iacovides, Luisa Cleverdon, Wasing Taggu, Philip Keeling

Abstract

Implantable cardiac monitors (ICMs), also known as implantable loop recorders (ILRs), are used for long-term heart rhythm monitoring of unexplained syncope or in the detection of arrhythmias. These devices are implanted by cardiologists within a cardiac catheter suite environment. The newer generation devices are miniaturised and inserted using a specific tool kit via a minimally invasive procedure. This paper describes the changes we have made to allow these devices to be implanted in a non-theatre environment by a cardiac physiologist and the benefits and cost reduction of this service redesign.

A cardiac physiologist (LC, Band 6) undertook specific training beginning in September 2015. A standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed and patient information videos were commissioned. The new service was introduced in September 2016 in the screening room of our critical care unit (CCU). Data were collected prospectively on the clinical outcome, patient satisfaction and costs.

Over a 13-month period LC independently performed 116 procedures (113 Medtronic Reveal LINQ™ ICMs and 3 St. Judes SJM CONFIRM™) with only one minor complication. Patients were highly satisfied with the redesigned service, which showed a reduction in cost of £241.27 per case.

ICMs/ILRs can be implanted safely and cost-effectively outside a cardiac catheter suite environment by a cardiac physiologist. This requires some specific training, a clinical SOP and is supported by use of dedicated patient information videos.

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January 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:27–30 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.004 Online First

Outcome of investigations into patients who attended the emergency department due to palpitations

Alexander J Gibbs, Andrew Potter

Abstract

Previous research estimates that up to 40% of palpitation presentations to the emergency department (ED) have cardiac aetiology. This study was performed to determine the proportion of patients referred on for cardiology investigations that consequentially had new significant pathology diagnosed; and the effect of follow-up investigation on patient re-attendance to the ED with the complaint of palpitations.

Patients referred to a community cardiology centre in 2016 for investigation into palpitations following an ED presentation were included. The diagnosis that each patient received from these investigations was analysed to see whether: (a) new underlying cardiac abnormality was identified and (b) that abnormality was significant, requiring follow-up.

There were 93 patients meeting criteria for analysis: 28% had a cardiac cause for their palpitations elicited, including 11% with new significant pathology identified. Rate of re-attendance to the ED was reduced once cardiology investigations were completed (0.11 presentations/patient; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04 to 0.18) compared with the investigation period (0.75 presentations/patient; 95%CI 0.3 to 1.2).

In conclusion, although only one tenth of patients referred for investigations had new significant cardiac pathology identified, completing cardiology investigations reduced ED re-attendance.

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January 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:35 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.005 Online First

Association of subclinical hypothyroidism in heart failure: a study from South India

Pramod Kumar Kuchulakanti, VCS Srinivasarao Bandaru, Anurag Kuchulakanti, Tallapaneni Lakshumaiah, Mehul Rathod, Rajeev Khare, Parsa Sairam, Poondru Rohit Reddy, Athuluri Ravikanth, Avvaru Guruprakash, Regalla Prasada Reddy, Banda Balaraju

Abstract

Recent studies have associated subclinical hypothyroidism with heart failure (HF) and increased mortality. To investigate the relationship between subclinical hypothyroidism and HF in Indian patients we prospectively recruited 350 HF patients between March 2013 and February 2017 at the department of cardiology Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad, India. All patients underwent fasting serum glucose, lipid profile, N-terminal-pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and thyroid hormone levels. Risk factors and clinical evaluation were undertaken. We divided thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels into severity grade 1 (≤9.9 mIU/L) and grade 2 (≥10 mIU/L).

Out of 350 HF patients, 191 (54.5%) were men, mean age was 60.4 ± 10.2 years (range 36–85 years). The incidence of subclinical hypothyroidism was 18.5%, 69.4% had normal thyroid function, and 12% had overt hypothyroidism. Mean NT-proBNP levels were 3561 ± 5553 pg/mL and 10.5% suffered in-hospital mortality. Dyslipidaemia (p=0.004), elevated NT-proBNP levels (p<0.0001) and mortality (p<0.0001) were significantly associated with subclinical hypothyroidism compared with euthyroidism. After multi-variate analysis, hypertension (odds ratio [OR] 3.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.32, 3.8), dyslipidaemia (OR 1.7; 95%CI 1.12, 2.8), subclinical hypothyroidism (OR 1.39; 95%CI 0.99, 1.82) and NT-proBNP >600 pg/mL (OR 1.98; 95%CI 1.23, 2.04) were significantly associated with HF. Grade 2 TSH (OR 4.16; 95%CI 2.04, 8.48), elevated NT-proBNP >1800 pg/mL (OR 2.18; 95%CI 1.53, 4.82), and severe left ventricular dysfunction (OR 2.51; 95%CI 1.24, 2.07) were significantly associated with poor outcome.

In conclusion, our study has established that subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with HF and grade 2 TSH has an independent association with in-hospital mortality in Indian patients.

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January 2019 Br J Cardiol 2019;26:36–7 doi :10.5837/bjc.2019.006 Online First

Significant suppression of premature ventricular ectopics with ivabradine in dilated cardiomyopathy

Lal H Mughal, Andrew R Houghton, Jeffrey Khoo

Abstract

Ivabradine is an I(f)-channel blocker currently used for the treatment of angina and heart failure. Although these channels are known to be found within the sino-atrial node, recent studies have also found localisation within the ventricular myocardium, and there have been reports of ventricular arrhythmia suppression in animal models. We describe an unusual case of significant ventricular ectopy suppression in a patient with non-ischaemic dilated cardiomyopathy. This was accompanied by a significant improvement in percentage pacing from her cardiac resynchronisation device, with corresponding improvement in her functional status. This report suggests, first, that the morbidity and mortality benefit of ivabradine in heart failure may not be solely due to its sino-atrial heart-rate lowering effect, and, second, highlights a potential role for ivabradine in the management of ventricular arrhythmias, which requires further studies to substantiate.

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December 2018 Br J Cardiol 2018;25:140–2 doi :10.5837/bjc.2018.031

Quality of life in postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS): before and after treatment

Toby Flack, Jamie Fulton

Abstract

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) can be defined as tachycardia with or without hypotension in the upright posture, and more comprehensively as a manifestation of a wider dysautonomia. The scope of this article is to characterise patients with PoTS and look at patient-rated responses to treatment.

This research comprised a postal survey, sent to patients with diagnosed PoTS at a tertiary hospital in Southwest England. We collected data on the demographics of patients, time to diagnosis, methods of diagnosis, treatments and response to treatment.

PoTS has an impact on quality of life, with patients communicating a drop in quality of life from 7.5 to 3.75 on a 10-point scale. From 40 respondents, 29 patients describe their symptoms improving since diagnosis, with self-rated day-to-day function improving from 3.21 to 6.14 (on a 10-point scale) after initiating treatment.

Many patients experience a delay in receiving a diagnosis with PoTS, and present multiple times to a variety of healthcare professionals. With a simple bedside diagnostic test (sitting and standing heart rate), there is scope to improve the time taken from developing initial symptoms to diagnosis, treatment and an improvement in quality of life.

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Thrombus aspiration in primary percutaneous coronary intervention: to use or not to use?

December 2018 Br J Cardiol 2018;25:152–6 doi :10.5837/bjc.2018.032

Thrombus aspiration in primary percutaneous coronary intervention: to use or not to use?

Telal Mudawi, Mohamed Wasfi, Darar Al-Khdair, Muath Al-Anbaei, Assem Fathi, Nikolay Lilyanov, Mohammed Elsayed, Ahmed Amin, Dalia Besada, Waleed Alenezi, Waleed Shabanh

Abstract

Thrombus aspiration during primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) has been extensively studied. Conflicting results have consistently emerged, hence, no clear guidance has been produced. The authors have examined several key clinical trials and meta-analyses, and discovered, arguably, major flaws within the designs of most trials, thus, accounting for the persistently discordant results. The authors conclude that there is some evidence to support the selective use of thrombectomy in primary PCI but a large-scale trial with the appropriate patient selection criteria is needed in order to substantiate or refute the argument.

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