Cardiology Research: Business As Usual During the Pandemic

At this moment in time the pre-pandemic cardiology research agenda needs to be completely reprioritized. There are two broad areas that now take precedence over all existing research concerns. On the one hand, researchers need to achieve a better understanding of the staggering incidence of deferred or delayed treatment of cardiovascular events and conditions as…

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A COVID-19 Cardiac MRI Study: What Went Wrong?

We still don’t know what COVID-19 is doing to the heart or how we should be investigating it and treating it. Last month JAMA Cardiology published a German cohort study of 100 patients recently recovered from COVID-19… A number of striking problems with the study were noted on Twitter……

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Don’t Confuse the Art and Science of Medicine: PCI vs CABG for Left Main Disease

It is often said that medicine is both an art and a science. In an imperfect world this is both inevitable and desirable. But it is extremely important that the two should not be confused with each other. In particular, because the “science” side of the equation has achieved overwhelming prestige and authority, it is…

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News About CardioBrief and CVCTCardioBrief

Note to readers: After a period of inactivity CardioBrief is coming back, but with some big differences. This website, CardioBrief.Org, will remain my personal website. A new website, CVCTCardiobrief.com, will be the new home for my “professional” blogging activities. To develop this website I have joined forces with the global CVCT Forum. I look forward to…

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No, CRISPR Is Not Going To ‘Cure’ Heart Disease

No, CRISPR gene editing technology is not going to “cure” heart disease. But a New York Times story by Gina Kolata on an extremely early study in animals prominently plays up just this extremely unlikely claim. The Times story is based on a press release issued by Verve Therapeutics, a new biotechnology company founded by Sekar Kathiresan, an influential cardiologist and genomic…

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What Can We Learn From The Apple Heart Study?

Do we ever learn from our past mistakes? For many years we believed that technology was an inevitable force for good. It would give us instant access to a near infinite amount of information and allow us to easily and instantly connect with nearly anyone on earth. What could go wrong? The answer is that…

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Health Hype Alert: Beware the Apple Watch

This morning STAT published an Op-Ed piece I wrote about the Apple Watch. Here’s how it starts: Set your smartwatch alarm. You’re about to be barraged by tons of hype about the health benefits of the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, it won’t include essential information and data that can put these claims in proper perspective. Last year,…

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The Simple Truth About Fake Medical News

Note: This is a slightly revised version of a talk I delivered at the recent CVCT Conference in Washington, DC.  Why are we vulnerable to fake news and why is it so hard to get rid of it? This is a complex question, but one important factor is that fake news delivers clear and simple…

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Questions Raised About Invokana Label Expansion For CV Risk Reduction

It hasn’t received a lot of media attention but on Tuesday the FDA approved an expansion of the canagliflozin (Invokana, Janssen) label to include a reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke, or CV death in adults with type 2 diabetes and established CV disease. Canagliflozin, an oral SGLT2 inhibitor, thus becomes the third…

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Cardiovascular Research Foundation Blocks Press Access to TCT2018 Meeting

(Updated) The Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) has denied press credentials for the TCT2018 meeting to a legitimate, fully accredited journalist. The meeting, which starts this weekend in San Diego, is the premiere interventional cardiology meeting. Legitimate journalists are routinely granted access to cover medical and scientific meetings. By any standard, Cat Ferguson is a respected and…

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What Happens When A Healthy 86-Year-Old Gets Atrial Fibrillation

Editor’s note: 86-year-old Nina Mishkin was still healthy and active when she went to Dublin, Ireland last September. After she returned home she developed atrial fibrillation, and then much more. “I never felt particularly vulnerable and fragile before,” she writes. “Now I do… It’s a different universe I inhabit.” I am grateful to Nina for giving…

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No, A Big NIH Trial Did Not Show That Lowering Blood Pressure Will Prevent Dementia

It’s “breakthrough” time again. News reports out of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) this week have been relentlessly upbeat and positive about findings from the NIH’s SPRINT MIND study. The message: aggressive blood pressure control can help protect the brain. But unless you look very carefully at the news reports and “expert” statements you won’t…

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Warning: Pirate Sites Are Now Kidnapping Doctors Booking Hotels At Medical Meetings

Pirates are attacking interventional cardiology meetings. Interventional cardiologists planning to attend the upcoming TCT meeting should be aware that at least one pirate web site is out to dupe them. (The annual TCT meeting, which runs this year in San Diego from September 21-25, is the première meeting for interventional cardiologists.) The pirates are trying…

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1 in 4 Cardiovascular Patients in Low Income Families Have Significant Financial Pain

Editor’s note: The following guest post is by Khurram Nassir, a cardiologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is the senior author of a new paper in JAMA Cardiology, “Association of Out-of-Pocket Annual Health Expenditures With Financial Hardship in Low-Income Adults With Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease in the United States.” 1 in 4 Cardiovascular…

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On Cannibals And Cardiologists

Everyone knows that cannibalism was practiced widely in pre-Colombian Mexico. Go online and you will quickly learn that 15,000 to 20,000 Aztecs were sacrificed each year. This “fact” colors our view of that civilization, and makes it a bit easier to give a pass to the conquistadors who, for all their own rapacity, brought “civilization”…

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Outsiders Swoop In Vowing To Rescue Rural Hospitals Short On Hope — And Money

Editor’s note: the following article is reprinted with permission from Kaiser Health News. Links to previous CardioBrief coverage of the laboratory scandal story can be found at the bottom of the page. by Barbara Feder Ostrov, Kaiser Health News CEDARVILLE, Calif. — Beau Gertz faced a crowd of worried locals at this town’s senior center,…

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New ORBITA Findings May Offer Modest Symptomatic Pain Relief To Interventional Cardiologists

New data presented at EuroPCR from the much debated ORBITA trial may provide some modest temporary lessening of the pain felt by interventional cardiologists in response to the initial negative ORBITA findings. But the pain relief is likely to be only temporary, and might even be fairly compared to a placebo effect, since the major…

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NIH Halts Large Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction (CIRT) Trial

The NHLBI has put an early stop to the large Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction (CIRT) Trial. The NHLBI action was based on a recommendation from the trial’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board. The action was not based on any substantive safety concerns. “Sometime in late March or early April the NHLBI informed me that there were no substantive…

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Salt War Opponents Unite In Call For Randomized Trial In Prisons

The opposing camps in the salt wars don’t agree on much, but they have now found common ground in their belief that the only way to settle the salt question is with a large randomized controlled trial. Further, they now agree that it would be nearly impossible to perform such a trial in the real…

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American Heart Association Venture Capital Fund Sparks Criticism

(Updated) The American Heart Association has announced that it has launched a $30 million venture capital fund “designed to spur healthcare innovation in heart disease and stroke care.” The AHA said that the Cardeation Capital fund will be funded by the AHA and co-investors Philips and UPMC. The fund “will invest in emerging healthcare companies that can…

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CABANA: No Outcomes Benefit In First Big Trial Of AF Ablation

(Updated) Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) produced no significant improvement in clinical outcomes in a large and important new clinical trial. CABANA is the first and long anticipated randomized controlled trial of AF ablation in the more than two decade long history of the procedure. The results will likely spark an intense controversy in…

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More Controversy Over Major Cardiology Clinical Trial

Think about this: A new article reports that a major NIH-funded trial runs into trouble. The article raises all sorts of fundamental questions about our ability to perform meaningful clinical research. But instead of expressing concern about these legitimate problems, medical leaders ignore these questions and instead focus their ire and criticism on the article authors,…

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Cardiology World Erupts Into Controversy Over Change In Major Clinical Trial

As a major clinical trial in cardiology nears completion it has provoked a storm of criticism and controversy. The brouhaha erupted in response to a late change to one of the most important— and already controversial— trials in cardiovascular medicine. The NIH-funded ISCHEMIA trial was designed back in 2011 to provide a definitive answer to…

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The ODYSSEY Trial Ends Well— But Will It Be Enough?

Sanofi and Regeneron achieved a modest victory with the much anticipated ODYSSEY Outcomes trial of its cholesterol lowering drug Praluent (alirocumab). The trial met its primary endpoint and even reported a significant improvement in all-cause mortality. But the mortality finding has an asterisk attached to it and it is far from clear whether the overall…

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Esperion Releases Top Line Results For First Pivotal Phase 3 Study

Esperion announced positive results today for the first in a series of pivotal phase 3 studies of its cholesterol lowering drug. The trial (Study 4, or 1002-048) compared bempedoic acid to placebo in 269 patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) or at high risk for ASCVD who have high LDL cholesterol levels (100 mg/dl or greater)…

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