Login:
 

Cardiovascular Symposium

More patients could benefit from referral for cardiac rehabilitation

25 Nov 2019Paid-up subscribers

Cardiac rehabilitation is a combination of medical and behavioural interventions designed to facilitate recovery and prevent future cardiovascular disease events. A cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation programme (CPRP) is a critical element within the management pathway for most patients with heart disease and has a particularly strong evidence base for those with either symptomatic atherothrombotic vascular disease or heart failure. Following acute MI and/or coronary revascularisation, attending and completing a CPRP is associated with an absolute risk reduction in cardiovascular mortality from 10.4% to 7.6%.

Reducing stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation

25 Nov 2019Paid-up subscribers

Stroke is the most debilitating complication of atrial fibrillation (AF). AF-related strokes account for 20-25% of all strokes and are generally more severe and disabling and more likely to recur. Oral anticoagulation (OAC) remains the cornerstone of AF management with a clear prognostic benefit. It reduces stroke risk by two-thirds and mortality by a quarter. The decision to anticoagulate is taken irrespective of the pattern and duration of AF (paroxysmal, persistent or permanent). A large evidence base supports the use of OAC in men with a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or more and women with a score of 3 or more. Hence, in the absence of absolute contraindications, OAC is strongly recommended.

Managing stable angina in primary care

22 Oct 2018Paid-up subscribers

Around 50% of people diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease present with stable angina as the first symptom. The likelihood of a diagnosis of angina increases with the number of cardiovascular risk factors present. A resting 12-lead ECG is recommended for all patients with suspected angina. However, a normal result does not exclude the presence of underlying coronary artery disease.

Tracking down and treating the cause of syncope

22 Oct 2018Registered users

Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness (T-LOC) caused by cerebral hypoperfusion, characterised by a rapid onset, short duration and spontaneous complete recovery. It needs to be differentiated from other conditions that can cause T-LOC such as seizures, trauma, hypoglycaemia, and psychogenic causes. Three principal types of syncope can be identified: reflex or neurally mediated, orthostatic hypotensive and cardiac. The common denominator of all these conditions is low systemic BP causing global cerebral hypoperfusion.

Improving uptake of cardiac rehabilitation

23 Oct 2017Registered users

Data from the National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation show that 50% of eligible MI, PCI, and CABG patients do attend cardiac rehabilitation and that figure continues to rise, but the rates for stable angina and heart failure remain low. There is evidence that programmes which have a basis in psychoeducation (goal setting, self-monitoring, relapse prevention) are more likely to achieve long-term behaviour change than those based simply on delivering a fixed agenda of exercise and education. A recent Cochrane review of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation continues to show the benefit of exercise prescription in terms of cardiovascular mortality, hospital readmission rates, and quality of life.

Assessment and management of CVD risk in adults

23 Oct 2017Registered users

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects seven million people in the UK alone. Modifiable risk factors for CVD include smoking, abnormal lipid profile, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, diet, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity. The INTERHEART study concluded that these factors account for more than 90% of the risk of MI worldwide. Well validated studies have suggested that QRISK2 is a better predictor of a patient’s ten-year risk of CVD compared with the traditionally used Framingham equation.

Early recognition vital in acute coronary syndrome

24 Oct 2016Registered users

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) includes both ST (STEMI) and non ST elevation (NSTEMI) MI, and unstable angina. Patients with ACS typically present with chest pain; classically central chest pain that radiates to the left arm. Additional symptoms include dyspnoea, nausea, sweating and syncope. However, patients can present atypically with gastric symptoms. These are often more common in patients with diabetes, women and the elderly. A 12-lead ECG should be performed if possible within 10 minutes of presentation or ideally at first contact with the emergency services.

 

Atrial fibrillation

Reducing stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation

25 Nov 2019Paid-up subscribers

Stroke is the most debilitating complication of atrial fibrillation (AF). AF-related strokes account for 20-25% of all strokes and are generally more severe and disabling and more likely to recur. Oral anticoagulation (OAC) remains the cornerstone of AF management with a clear prognostic benefit. It reduces stroke risk by two-thirds and mortality by a quarter. The decision to anticoagulate is taken irrespective of the pattern and duration of AF (paroxysmal, persistent or permanent). A large evidence base supports the use of OAC in men with a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or more and women with a score of 3 or more. Hence, in the absence of absolute contraindications, OAC is strongly recommended.

Managing arrhythmias in coronary artery disease

23 Jan 2019Registered users

A detailed history is essential in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) to elucidate red flag symptoms necessitating urgent specialist assessment. Red flags include syncope and presyncope, particularly in patients with concomitant left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Palpitations with severe chest pain and breathlessness also warrant urgent assessment. Undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF) is common in older populations. LVEF of 35% or less is a predictor of increased risk of sudden death. All patients with CAD should therefore undergo assessment of LVEF, usually by transthoracic echocardiography.

 

Children and adolescents

Diagnosing heart disease in children and adolescents

22 Jun 2017Paid-up subscribers

Heart disease in children and adolescents can be congenital, in which structural defects of the heart and major blood vessels are present from birth, acquired, whereby disease develops during life, or genetic, including diseases affecting the heart muscle, electrical system or the aorta. The incidence of congenital heart disease has decreased over the past 30 years, with approximately 1 in 180 babies born with congenital heart disease in the UK each year. Several cardiac diseases are genetic and can manifest in childhood. Most are primary cardiomyopathies, ion channel diseases, coronary artery disease from familial hypercholesterolaemia or aortopathies.

 

Women and cardiovascular risk

Management of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy

07 Aug 2019Paid-up subscribers

Hypertension is the most common medical complication of pregnancy, affecting 8-10% of pregnancies in the UK. It is associated with risks to both the woman and the fetus, with increased risks of pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery, fetal growth restriction, placental abruption and perinatal death. Any new onset of hypertension after 20 weeks or symptoms or signs suspicious of pre-eclampsia should be referred for same day assessment at a secondary care antenatal assessment unit.

Underestimating risk in women delays diagnosis of CVD

21 Mar 2016Paid-up subscribers

CVD remains the most common cause of mortality in women. There has been an increase in the prevalence of MI in women aged 35 to 54, while a decline in prevalence was observed in age-matched men. Although men and women share classic cardiovascular risk factors the relative importance of each risk factor may be gender specific. The impact of smoking is greater in women than men, especially in those under 50. Diabetes is a more potent risk factor for fatal CHD in women than men.

 

Respiratory/cardiovascular symposium articles

Diagnosing and managing pulmonary hypertension

12 Dec 2012Paid-up subscribers

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is defined as an increase in mean pulmonary arterial pressure ≥ 25 mmHg at rest as assessed invasively by right heart catheterisation. It can affect patients at any age and presents with non-specific symptoms. Accurate diagnosis is important as while PH is a potentially lethal disease it is treatable. Identification of the cause of PH is crucial to ensure that the patient receives appropriate management.

 

Special reports:CVD and stroke

Tailor BP targets to the older patient with hypertension

25 Jun 2018Paid-up subscribers

The prevalence of hypertension increases with age and older people are likely to benefit more from BP reduction because of their high baseline cardiovascular risk. However, older people are a very heterogeneous group and a single BP target will not be appropriate for all. Current evidence is based on ambulatory or healthy older populations as patients with significant complex conditions were not represented in randomised clinical trials. 

Timely diagnosis of heart failure can improve prognosis

28 Jul 2017Paid-up subscribers

Heart failure is a common, complex clinical syndrome resulting from the impaired ability of the heart to cope with the metabolic needs of the body, leading to breathlessness, fatigue and fluid retention. It is a progressive disease characterised by high levels of morbidity and mortality. Measuring plasma levels of natriuretic peptides is recommended for ruling out heart failure, as patients with normal levels are unlikely to have heart failure. An echocardiogram is indicated if the natriuretic peptides are elevated, or natriuretic peptide testing is not available.

 

Antiplatelet & anticoagulant research reviews

New antiplatelet agents are more effective in preventing recurrent MI

22 Oct 2018Registered users

Compared with clopidogrel, prasugrel and, in particular ticagrelor, led to a significant reduction in risk of recurrent fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS), in a study from France.

Anticoagulants underused in older heart failure patients with AF

27 Feb 2018Registered users

Overestimation of risk of bleeding leads to underuse of oral anticoagulants in frail elderly heart failure patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) despite their increased risk of stroke, a study in Heart has concluded.

 

Research Reviews by GP with special interest

Loneliness a risk factor for cardiovascular disease

24 Sep 2020Registered users

Loneliness but not social isolation appears to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, an analysis of data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing suggests.

Lifestyle intervention reduces risk factors in older patients with coronary artery disease

24 Jul 2020Registered users

Patients aged 65 years and over with coronary artery disease benefitted at least as much as younger patients in improving lifestyle risk factors in a community-based trial from the Netherlands. Older patients were more likely to achieve the weight loss target and stop smoking.

Abdominal obesity post MI raises risk of recurrent MI or stroke

25 May 2020Paid-up subscribers

Abdominal obesity is an independent risk factor for a further myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke in patients who have already suffered a first MI, an observational cohort study from Sweden has shown. A total of 22,882 MI patients from the SWEDEHEART registry (Swedish Web-system for Enhancement and Development of Evidence-based care in Heart disease Evaluated According to Recommended Therapies) were recruited to the study.

Exercise improves function and mortality rates in older patients following ACS

23 Apr 2020Paid-up subscribers

A largely home-based exercise intervention improved grip strength, mobility, daily activities and quality of life in older patients after acute coronary syndrome, an Italian study has shown. Hospitalisation and death rates were also reduced by the intervention. A total of 235 patients, median age 76 years, range 73-81 years, were recruited to the trial conducted at three sites in Italy. They were randomised one month after their ACS event to the exercise or control group. All had reduced physical performance defined by the short physical performance battery with scores of 4-9.

Are psychological techniques effective in patients at high risk of CVD?

24 Mar 2020Paid-up subscribers

Enhanced motivational interviewing with additional behaviour change techniques was not effective in reducing weight or increasing physical activity in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease, a primary care study has shown.

How accurate are wearable electronic devices for monitoring atrial fibrillation?

24 Feb 2020Paid-up subscribers

A smartwatch-based patient device demonstrated only moderate diagnostic accuracy in detecting atrial fibrillation (AF) when compared with a 12-lead ECG, in a study from Australia. Accuracy was improved if the automated device diagnosis was combined with specialist interpretation of unclassified tracings.

Antihypertensive drugs most effective when taken at bedtime

20 Dec 2019Paid-up subscribers

Patients who took their blood pressure medication at bedtime had improved blood pressure control and lower risk of major cardiovascular disease events compared with those who took their drugs in the morning, a primary care study has shown.

Flu vaccination reduces all-cause mortality in heart failure patients

24 Oct 2019Paid-up subscribers

Influenza vaccination was associated with a significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality in patients with heart failure, a meta-analysis has found. However, the effect on cardiovascular deaths and hospitalisations was not significant.

Bundle branch block an indicator of heart failure risk

25 Sep 2019Paid-up subscribers

Opportunistic finding of bundle branch block (BBB) in primary care patients without major cardiovascular disease should be considered a warning of future heart failure, a retrospective cohort study from Denmark concludes.

How does weight change affect risk of atrial fibrillation?

07 Aug 2019Paid-up subscribers

Putting on weight appears to raise the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), a meta-analysis  by investigators in Oxford, UK, has concluded. However, no clear evidence emerged as to whether weight loss reduces the risk.

Sitting time linked to raised mortality risk in inactive adults

22 May 2019Paid-up subscribers

Sitting for long periods is associated with an increased risk of all cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality among the least physically active adults. However, moderate to vigorous physical activity equivalent to public health recommendations can attenuate or effectively eliminate such associations, a study from Australia has found.

Continuous ECG vs loop recording for AF detection post stroke

24 Apr 2019Registered users

Automatic external loop recording (ELR) is not suitable as a single monitoring device for AF screening following stroke, a prospective cohort study from Denmark has concluded.

 

Editorials

Is exercise as effective as drug therapy in reducing systolic BP?

23 Jan 2019Paid-up subscribers

The systolic blood pressure lowering effect of endurance or dynamic resistance exercise among hypertensive populations appeared similar to that of commonly used antihypertensive medications (ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers, beta-blockers and diuretics) in a network meta-analysis.

Fish oil supplements fail to lower cardiovascular risk in diabetes

22 Nov 2018Registered users

Dietary supplementation with n-3 fatty acids (fish oils) in patients with diabetes is not associated with a reduction in cardiovascular events, a large randomised controlled study has found.  ‘These findings, together with results of earlier randomised trials involving patients with and those without diabetes, do not support the current recommendations for routine dietary supplementation with n-3 fatty acids to prevent vascular events,’ the study authors conclude.