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Clinical articles

November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:630-33

The electronic health record and the management of cardiovascular disease

Alan G Begg, John M Griffith

Abstract

A dvanced web-based clinical care applications as part of an electronic health record can assist clinicians to meet Government targets for the management of cardiovascular disease. A clinical module of the Tayside electronic health record collects electronic data automatically from a variety of sources and holds this data in a central regional repository. It identifies those patients with existing cardiovascular disease and also those high priority patients at risk of developing clinical atherosclerosis. It allows the clinician to effectively manage these patients in line with national evidence-based guidelines. Real time audit of patient management is instantly available at the point of direct patient contact, as well as benchmarking to agreed performance criteria. Demonstrating improvement in clinical outcomes remains the eventual goal.

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November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:615-6

An unusual case of pericardial constriction

Michael Pitt, Stephen Rooney, R Gordon Murray

Abstract

An unusual case of pericardial constriction Michael Pitt, Stephen Rooney, R Gordon Murray Pericardial constriction remains a rare condition. The precise aetiology is undefined in up to 50% of cases. We describe a case of rapidly progressive pericardial constriction and highlight how post-mortem examination remains useful in establishing unexpected diagnoses.

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November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:611-3

In-patient transfer for coronary angiography: a substitute for clinical evaluation?

Emma Helm, Elizabeth Hamlyn, John Chambers

Abstract

Waiting for in-patient transfer for the investigation of chest pain is a significant cause of ‘bed-blocking’. We performed an audit of 58 consecutive in-patient transfers. The mean delay between referral and transfer was 10 days (range one to 28 days). At the time of transfer the mean number of pain-free days was five (range one to 21 days). Of the 37 patients with a working diagnosis of unstable angina, only 19 (51%) underwent some sort of non-invasive risk stratification prior to referral, nine patients (24%) were walking around the hospital or had taken weekend leave and 13 (35%) had normal anatomy or subcritical disease. Of 21 with post-infarct angina, seven (33%) underwent exercise stress testing, five (24%) were mobilising around the hospital and 18 (86%) underwent some sort of intervention.
In conclusion, waiting times for in-patient angiography were long and utilisation of non-invasive investigation was low.

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November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:609-10

Fish oils and cardioprotection – mechanisms explored

Derek M Yellon, Derek Hausenloy

Abstract

Interest in the cardioprotective properties of marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) has been renewed following the publication of three large trials earlier this year demonstrating a reduction in sudden cardiac deaths from the ingestion of marine n-3 PUFAs, along with the recent availability in the UK of its pharmacological equivalent, Omacor™. Secondary prevention trials, such as the Diet and Reinfarction Trial (DART) and the more recent analysis of the GISSI-Prevenzione data, found a reduction in sudden deaths associated with supplementation of n-3 PUFAs in post-myocardial infarction patients.1,2

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November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:600-9

What is the current role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in post-myocardial infarction management?

Lena Marie Izzat, Philip Avery

Abstract

The low incidence of ischaemic heart disease amongst Greenlandic Eskimos has intrigued researchers for many years. The answer was found in their marine-based diet, very rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs). These have shown anti-arrhythmic, endothelial protective, anti-atherogenic, antithrombotic and antiplatelet effects in many observational studies, which have paved the way for the potential role in secondary prevention post-myocardial infarction.
Many trials have emphasised the importance of oily fish in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Oily fish consumption, however, is poor in the UK. It has the disadvantages of possible toxic chemical contaminants, a large calorific content and some people simply do not like it. The GISSI-Prevenzione trial studied the effect of a highly purified n-3 PUFA supplement and found it conferred a 20% relative risk reduction in mortality and a 45% reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death. This early protection supports the anti-arrhythmic potential of n-3 PUFAs.
A supplement containing 90% concentrate of the n-3 PUFAs, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexanoic acid, known as Omacor™, is now licensed in the UK as adjuvant treatment in secondary prevention post-myocardial infarction, in addition to standard medical treatment including statins.
The prescription of n-3 PUFA supplements are best initiated in secondary care. The index admission is generally the best time to initiate secondary prevention when patients tend to be most receptive.

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November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:593-9

The cardiological complications associated with HIV infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Timothy C Hardman, Scott D Purdon

Abstract

Our increased understanding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), including elucidation of the processes of transmission and replication, has led to the development of relatively effective therapies to minimise and manage the clinical consequences of HIV infection. These therapeutic developments have undoubtedly improved rates of morbidity and mortality in infected patients. The improvements in quality of life and life expectancy have been accompanied by an increase in the number of patients demonstrating cardiac complications, occurring either as a result of the infection itself or the drugs used to control the virus.
Cardiac involvement occurs frequently in HIV/AIDS patients and it seems likely that the myocardium, pericardium and/or endocardium are involved. Myocarditis, one of the most common types of cardiac involvement observed in HIV patients, the cause of which can be difficult to identify, may be responsible for myocardial dysfunction. Opportunistic infections, including HIV itself, have been suggested as the cause of myocarditis. Dilated cardiomyopathy is usually found in the late stage of HIV infection and myocarditis may be the triggering causative factor. The mechanism behind pericardial effusion remains unclear but it too may be related to infections or neoplasms. Non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis and infective endocarditis have been described in AIDS patients, both of which cause significant morbidity. Human immunodeficiency virus-related pulmonary hypertension is a diagnosis of exclusion, and symptoms and signs may mimic other pulmonary conditions in AIDS patients. Cardiac Kaposi’s sarcoma and cardiac lymphoma are the frequently encountered malignant neoplasms in AIDS patients – the prognosis is grave in patients with these conditions.

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November 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:567-69

Improving care for patients with heart disease: implications of the Fifth report on the provision of services for patients with heart disease

Paul Kalra, Roger Hall, John Camm

Abstract

Details of the ‘Fifth report on the provision of services for patients with heart disease’, compiled jointly by the British Cardiac Society and the Royal College of Physicians, were published recently. We recommend that all health workers concerned with the care and management of patients with cardiovascular disorders should be aware of the report and contribute to its implementation.

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October 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:554-9

Implementation of the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease in primary care

Caroline Levie, Stewart Findlay

Abstract

The innovation of specialist nurses in coronary heart disease prevention across 12 practices in a rural County Durham Primary Care Trust (PCT) with a high rate of premature death from heart disease helped the Trust achieve the National Service Frame-work (NSF) for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) targets and milestones. The introduction of nurse-led CHD clinics at each practice provided a structured follow-up for all patients with CHD to locally agreed guidelines. Audit data collected showed that after 12 months, the service showed an improved management of secondary prevention: more patients had had their cholesterol measured, more had received lipid-lowering medication and more had achieved target cholesterol levels of < 5.0 mmol/L than at baseline. Aspirin prescribing also increased. The PCT has also recently introduced a specialist heart failure nurse to carry out a similar programme and, in addition, has addressed cardiac rehabilitation to provide a home-based service for some patients.

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October 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:549-52

Early thrombolysis for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction. Who will provide this treatment in the UK? Part 1

Terry McCormack

Abstract

This article looks at the results of four studies which examined the delivery of early thrombolysis by general practitioners and ambulance paramedics to patients suffering an acute myocardial infarction. The studies found that they could provide early thrombolysis safely.
One study in an isolated rural area in Scotland found general practitioners would have very limited experience of thrombolysis – one case per general practitioner per year – and that use of thrombolysis by local general practitioners fell off sharply after the study. A second study carried out in 15 European countries and Canada, found that there was no significant improvement in mortality and morbidity in the pre-hospital group given thrombolysis at home. This was also found by a Dutch study. An American study using computer-assisted diagnostic ECGs relayed to a physician at the base hospital, found little difference in the pre-hospital and hospital treatment arms but a dramatic improvement in the speed of treatment of both groups. Pre-hospital thrombolysis was also reduced. Two studies found ambulances became ‘tied up’ when thrombolysis was delivered at home.
These studies were used as part of a submission on behalf of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. The rest of the submission is discussed in part two of this article next month.

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October 2002 Br J Cardiol 2002;9:546-7

Atrial fibrillation in a patient with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

Tariq Azeem, Seong Som Chuah, Philip S Lewis

Abstract

The authors describe a case of a Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome patient experiencing atrial fibrillation, which was difficult to distinguish from ventricular tachycardia.

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