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Editorial articles

June 2018 Br J Cardiol 2018;25:46–7 doi:10.5837/bjc.2018.015

Congenital heart disease: an ageing problem

Gabrielle Norrish, Juan Pablo Kaski

Abstract

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common congenital anomaly, with an estimated prevalence of eight per 1,000 births.1 However, reliable data on long-term survival for this heterogeneous group of patients are still lacking. Previous population-based studies from the US reported age-standardised mortality rates secondary to CHD of 1.2 per 100,000.2 Mortality was highest during infancy (48.1% of all deaths occurred under the age of one year), however, the majority of the remaining deaths occurred outside of childhood, following transition to adult care. Yet, while it is accepted that individuals with CHD may have a higher mortality compared with the general population, the wide spectrum of disease means interpretation of population-based mortality rates for individual lesions is difficult. Additionally, a significant number of studies report only on short-term follow-up, meaning that long-term outcomes are unknown. A previous systematic review reported pooled survival estimates for common CHD lesions, however, it only included studies from hospital-based cohorts with survival estimates calculated from the time of surgical repair.3 It, therefore, does not account for those patients who do not need surgical intervention and may not be representative of all patients with CHD. Knowing the expected mortality rates for CHD is not only important for family counselling, but also in service planning.

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April 2018 Br J Cardiol 2018;25:48–9 doi:10.5837/bjc.2018.009 Online First

Implications of Brexit for medical research

Chloe Watson

Abstract

On 23 June 2016, the UK public took to the polls and voted to leave the European Union (EU). Since that vote, everyone – from the farming community to the financial sector – has been trying to digest the result and understand what it might mean for them. The science community has been no exception, and with good reason. Scientific research is widely acknowledged as an international endeavour and, until now, EU membership has played a role in this. Science is also a real UK strength – UK institutions, when compared internationally, are ranked second in the world for the quality of their research,1 and the UK has one of the largest drug development pipelines globally – making it all the more important that we secure a positive future for UK science post-Brexit.

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April 2018 Br J Cardiol 2018;25:50 doi:10.5837/bjc.2018.010 Online First

Celebrating 25 years of the Scottish Cardiac Society

Hany Eteiba

Abstract

In September last year, the Scottish Cardiac Society (SCS) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a two-day symposium held in Crieff – the same venue where the inaugural meeting took place in 1992.

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January 2018 doi:10.5837/bjc.2018.003 Online First

What next for troponin? When diagnostic precision muddies the water for the physician

Thomas E Kaier

Abstract

Physicians use tests to inform decision-making. Whether this is a bedside test using a stethoscope, the seemingly ancient technology of recording an electrocardiogram (ECG), or the most advanced imaging modalities and biochemical panels available – all pursue diagnostic clarity. But, more frequently than we might like to admit, the results do not illuminate a clear path of treatment.

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November 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:127 doi:10.5837/bjc.2017.029

Controlled hypertension: a forgotten diagnosis

Aaron Koshy, Anet Gregory Toms, Sharon Koshy, Raj Mohindra

Abstract

We believe that controlled systemic hypertension should be considered as an important clinical entity (figure 1). We know that cardiovascular risks increase with rising blood pressure, each 2 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure is associated with a 7% and 10% rise in mortality from ischaemic heart disease and stroke, respectively.1 However, the converse proposition would also seem to be true. Meta-analyses have found significant reductions in stroke and coronary events associated with blood pressure control,2 even in grade 1 hypertension. Furthermore, large studies such as SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial)3 have shown that patients with tighter blood pressure control (mean systolic 121.4 mmHg) have significantly lower rates of major cardiovascular events and heart failure in addition to reduced mortality compared with the standard therapy cohort (mean systolic 136.2 mmHg). With reduction of blood pressure the associated risks are reduced.

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August 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:87–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2017.021

Self-monitoring blood pressure in pregnancy: is this the way forward?

Josephine Walshaw, Richard J McManus

Abstract

Hypertension is a significant problem, both in the general population and among pregnant women, with around one in 10 women experiencing a form of hypertensive disorder during pregnancy.1 It is the third most common direct cause of maternal mortality worldwide, after haemorrhage and infection,2 and is also associated with adverse affects to the baby, including intrauterine growth retardation, premature delivery and respiratory distress syndrome.3

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August 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:90–2 doi:10.5837/bjc.2017.022

Are NOACs safe in catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation?

Adam J Graham, Richard J Schilling

Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is known to increase stroke risk and can be stratified clinically by the CHA2DS2-VASc scoring system, which then informs recommendations for long-term anticoagulation. Susceptibility to thromboembolism is also increased around the time of catheter ablation of AF. Mechanistically, this is accounted for by endothelial injury, hypercoagulability due to contact of blood with foreign surfaces and altered blood flow after conversion to normal sinus rhythm (figure 1).1 The risk of stroke persists post-ablation, even in patients with low CHA2DS2-VASc scores, as the atria may remain stunned for several weeks post-ablation, and the endothelium takes time to heal. This phenomenon forms the rationale for guidelines currently recommending anticoagulation for two to three months post-ablation.2 

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June 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:47-8 doi:http://doi.org/10.5837/bjc.2017.014

A triumph of British cardiovascular medicine: “… and the last can be first…”

Adrian J B Brady

Abstract

In troubled times, in a sea of uncertainty, it is easy to forget that the UK remains the envy of the world in one aspect at least: the delivery of a national health service (NHS). The structure and organisation of UK general practice; the existence and authority of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – with national guidance and local dissemination and structured implementation – remain the envy of the world. While our European neighbours stand by holding each other’s coats as Brexit rumbles on, we forget that each of these nations gazes at our health service and wishes they had one just like ours.

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March 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:11–12 doi:10.5837/bjc.2017.005

Optimising BP measurement and treatment before elective surgery: taking the pressure off

Simon G Anderson, Nigel Beckett, Adam C Pichel, Terry McCormack

Abstract

Hypertension remains a significant burden on mortality and morbidity, contributing to increasing costs to healthcare provision globally. There is detailed evidence-based guidance on the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension in the community, however, during the peri-operative period for elective surgery, consideration of an elevated blood pressure remains a conundrum. This is a consequence of paucity of evidence, particularly around specific blood pressure cut-offs deemed to be clinically safe. Postponement of planned surgical procedures due to elevated blood pressure is a common reason to cancel necessary surgery. A sprint audit of 11 West London Hospitals with national audit data indicated that the number of cancellations was 1–3%, equating to approximately 100 cancellations per day in the UK.1 This suggests that approximately 39,730 patients per year may have had a cancellation of a surgical procedure owing to a finding of pre-operative hypertension.2 The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) together with the British Hypertension Society (BHS) recognise the need for a nationally agreed policy statement on how to deal with raised blood pressure in the pre-operative period and have jointly published guidelines titled: “The measurement of adult blood pressure and management of hypertension before elective surgery” in the journal Anaesthesia.2

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Cardiovascular screening of young athletes with electrocardiography in the UK: at what cost?

January 2017 Br J Cardiol 2017;24:(1) doi:10.5837/bjc.2017.002 Online First

Cardiovascular screening of young athletes with electrocardiography in the UK: at what cost?

Harshil Dhutia, Sanjay Sharma

Abstract

The promotion of exercise as a positive and powerful health intervention has never been more important, when consideration is given to the global epidemic of disease states related to a sedentary lifestyle. However, intensive exercise may be a trigger for sudden cardiac death in individuals harbouring quiescent cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, hereditary and congenital abnormalities of the heart are the most common cause of non-traumatic death during sport in young athletes.1 

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