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Editorial articles

Cut out the middleman

November 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:127 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.035

Cut out the middleman

Terry McCormack

Abstract

Following Brexit, like many other people with Irish parents, I started the process of applying for an Irish passport. The Irish embassy website informed me, to my surprise, that I had become an Irish citizen on the day I was born. Despite that status, and despite owning a home in County Kerry, I have to admit I know very little about the Irish healthcare system. In fact, having worked my entire life in English healthcare, I do not fully understand the systems in the other three constituent countries of the UK either. My career has mostly involved both primary and secondary care, so I do understand the issues and difficulties of communication between hospitals and general practitioners (GPs).

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Can marriage mend a broken heart (and save the National Health Service)?

November 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:130–1 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.036

Can marriage mend a broken heart (and save the National Health Service)?

Nicholas D Gollop

Abstract

Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is the leading cause of mortality worldwide.1 It is a debilitating, life-changing illness that can reduce quality of life and life-expectancy. While surgical, percutaneous and optimal medical interventions can significantly improve the clinical course of the disease, our understanding of the biopsychosocial mechanisms promoting survival following an acute IHD event, such as an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), is still limited. 

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Digital health – game-changing empowerment or corporations preying on the worried well?

October 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:128 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.031

Digital health – game-changing empowerment or corporations preying on the worried well?

Francis White

Abstract

Over and over we hear the message that healthcare spending is out of control, the National Health Service (NHS) needs to save £20 billion and that is before the baby boom* generation fully enters the most expensive part of their healthcare journey…

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British Heart Valve Society update: a change in the NICE guidelines on antibiotic prophylaxis

August 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:91–2 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.027

British Heart Valve Society update: a change in the NICE guidelines on antibiotic prophylaxis

John B Chambers, Martin H Thornhill, Mark Dayer, David Shanson

Abstract

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has made an important change to Clinical Guideline 64 (CG64)1 adding the word ‘routinely’ to Recommendation 1.1.3: “Antibiotic prophylaxis against infective endocarditis is not recommended routinely for people undergoing dental procedures”. In a letter about the change,2 Sir Andrew Dillon, CEO of NICE, confirmed that “… in individual cases, antibiotic prophylaxis may be appropriate”. 

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Global health and data science: future needs for tomorrow’s cardiologist

August 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:87–8 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.026

Global health and data science: future needs for tomorrow’s cardiologist

Jonathan Evans, Amitava Banerjee

Abstract

Compared with other diseases, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are responsible for the greatest burden of disease both globally1 and in the UK.2 Drugs for CVD and its risk factors have always been represented in the list of international blockbuster drugs. Important research innovations, such as ‘learning health systems’, ‘precision medicine’ and electronic health record (EHR)-based trials, have been led by professionals in the field of cardiology. Cardiovascular scientists from the UK have a long and strong history of research contributions with international impact. Training in cardiology is critical, not only in preparing and mentoring the clinical and academic cardiologists of the future, but also in shaping how the specialty is perceived from inside and outside. Global health and data science are overarching themes that offer new lenses through which to view CVD and cardiology. However, cardiology training in the UK barely pays lip service to either of these issues, when their implications have never been greater or more acute on our specialty. 

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Incidental findings on imaging: seeing the wood from the trees

July 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:85–6 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.023 Online First

Incidental findings on imaging: seeing the wood from the trees

Sushant Saluja, Pavel Janousek, Khalil Kawafi, Simon G Anderson

Abstract

The coronary artery calcium (CAC) score is widely believed to be an important tool in determining the risk of developing heart disease. The measurement of this score has traditionally been based on using electrocardiography triggered computed tomography (CT). This confers an advantage over non-gated CT scanning by acquiring images during diastole, which reduces motion artefact and avoids missing areas of coronary artery calcification. Radiologists are, therefore, cautious when reporting CAC on non-gated CT scans due to concerns that it may not be accurate. This means that there is currently no obligation, from a radiology perspective, to report on the degree of CAC on non-gated CT scans. While this has been acceptable for a long time, emerging evidence may force us to change our practise. 

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Management of refractory angina: the importance of winning over both hearts and minds

June 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:45–6 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.018

Management of refractory angina: the importance of winning over both hearts and minds

Christine Wright, Ranil de Silva

Abstract

Refractory angina (RA) is an increasingly common, chronic, debilitating condition, which severely reduces quality of life. It can severely impact on physical, social and psychological wellbeing. RA should be considered in patients with known coronary artery disease, who continue to experience frequent angina-like symptoms, despite surgical or percutaneous revascularisation and optimal medical therapy. Objective evidence of reversible ischaemia should also be demonstrated. Treatment is challenging and often not delivered adequately. Management should ideally be provided by a specialist multi-disciplinary team, but national provision of such services is extremely limited. As a result, patients with RA commonly enter a downward spiral of long-term local review, cycling between the outpatient department and Accident and Emergency (A&E). Consequently, a disproportionately high proportion of healthcare resource is consumed in the management of these patients due to high attendance rates in primary and secondary care, unscheduled hospitalisation, prolonged hospital stays, investigations and polypharmacy. This may be improved by the implementation of more appropriate models of care delivery.

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April 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:49–50 doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.014 Online First

Growing need for trainees in adult congenital heart disease in the UK

Kate English, Aisling Carroll, S M Afzal Sohaib, Michael Stewart, Russell Smith, J Ian Wilson

Abstract

Deaths from congenital heart disease in childhood have fallen 83% in the last 25 years.1 This dramatic change has led to a significant increase in the numbers of adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD) requiring care, and prevalence is not expected to plateau until 2050.2 Even patients with extremely complex pathophysiology are now expected to survive well into adult life, and will have significantly higher rates of utilisation of all hospital services than the general population.3,4 

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Does hand-held cardiac ultrasound herald the end of the stethoscope?

February 2016 Br J Cardiol 2016;23:(1) doi:10.5837/bjc.2016.001 Online First

Does hand-held cardiac ultrasound herald the end of the stethoscope?

Peter Currie

Abstract

I first started using the V scan myself over four years ago, and I have found this hand-held mobile device extremely useful for providing rapid and important diagnostic information at the bedside. The quality of the images of the V scan are usually of sufficiently high quality to make a useful clinical assessment. It is usually possible to make a fair assessment of systolic function of the left ventricle. I have also found that the identification of a dilated right heart has often been very useful for diagnosing massive pulmonary emboli – quite frequently when this diagnosis would not otherwise have been suspected. Valve lesions of significance are invariably pretty obvious and the images are usually adequate to identify vegetations as well. Pericardial effusion is readily detected.

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Impact of latest NICE guidelines on CRT and ICD implant rates

December 2015 Br J Cardiol 2015;22:134–5 doi:10.5837/bjc.2015.039

Impact of latest NICE guidelines on CRT and ICD implant rates

Andrew J Turley

Abstract

Cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) have an unquestionable evidence base in patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), already on optimal medical therapy. Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) effectively treat ventricular arrhythmias, which account for up to 50% of mortality in patients with reduced LVEF.1 Likewise in appropriately selected patients, cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) reduces hospitalisation rates, improves symptoms and prolongs life-expectancy.2

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