Cardiology Roundup: News and Breakthroughs


3D EchocardiogramThe state of the art in cardiology is rapidly evolving. New imaging tools and techniques hold the promise of more effective intervention with less risk to the patient. Researchers are discovering new best practices for existing technology and creating standards that can lead to more consistent, higher-quality care — all while new research continues to push the boundaries of what is possible for diagnosis and treatment.

This month’s roundup of cardiology news highlights new procedures, new best practices, and breakthroughs in research.

1. Image Noise Reduction Technology Reduces Radiation in Radial Arterial Access Cardiac Catheterization

Compared to femoral access catheterization, radial arterial access has historically been associated with higher doses of radiation. This new study indicates the increased dosage can be mitigated through the use of image noise reduction fluoroscopy systems.

Researchers analyzed the results from 400 patients who underwent cardiac catheterizations first with traditional fluoroscopy, then with a new image noise reduction system. They discovered that radiation doses decreased significantly with the new system. Overall, the radial dose was reduced 45% in the population the research studied. The researchers concluded that this reduction in dose “virtually eliminates the importance of small increases in radiation doses associated with radial access.”

2.  New Guidelines/Best Practices for 3D Echocardiography

The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging and the American Society of Echocardiography just released a consensus document on 3D echocardiography (3DE). The comprehensive document covers the history of 3DE, describes ideal workflows and imaging techniques, and lays out best practices for imaging specific cardiac features.

The full document’s stance on training is of particular interest to cardiologists. The document notes that no training proposals have yet been produced for 3DE for congenital heart disease, and that the European certification process for echocardiography certification does not include 3DE. Given the increasing usage of 3DE as a diagnostic tool, the paper calls for specific training guidelines and standards to provide more structured training in the future.

3. SAVR an Option for Elderly with Aortic Stenosis

In light of the recent expanded indications for TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), this analysis of TAVR versus SAVR (surgical aortic valve replacement) is particularly relevant. The study involved an analysis of 937 medium-risk elderly patients who were randomized to SAVR in a recent clinical trial.

The study shows that the operative mortality rate of SAVR patients was 4.1%, better than anticipated and comparable with TAVR mortality rates. The study found no significant difference in the odds of disabling stroke or in the 2-year death rate. Researchers conclude that SAVR can be performed in intermediate-risk elderly patients, with the mortality risk comparable with national benchmarks.

4. Mature Heart Muscle Cells Created in Laboratory from Stem Cells

Researchers at Johns Hopkins report success in creating mature and viable human heart muscle cells from stem cells. In previous attempts to grow heart cells in lab culture dishes or flasks, immature cells had failed to mature into functioning cardiac tissue.

For this trial, the researchers used rat hearts to provide an environment that would stimulate the cells to reach maturity. A month after implantation, human donor cells appeared rod-shaped and mature.

These new cells could hold promise for research into arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a genetic disease that only displays symptoms in mature cells. The ability to maturate cells in the lab could lead to expanded ability to study the disease.

5. An International Study Opens the Door to Personalized Heart Failure Treatment

A team of researchers from the United States, Germany and Spain have discovered a biomarker that may lead to improved treatment for heart failure patients. The team discovered that an excess of an enzyme known as lysyl oxidase-like 2 leads to fibrosis of the cardiac muscle, which in turn leads to heart failure.

Most promising, the study shows that eliminating the excess of this enzyme can repair the fibrosis and returns the heart function to normal, potentially preventing the disease’s progress. The team plans to next develop tests to precisely measure the levels of lysyl oxidase-like 2 in heart patients, and then attempt to develop drug therapy personalized to each patient.

New research and new technological innovations are continuously shaping the future of cardiology. To make sure your health system keeps pace with the times, learn more about our single database CVIS, or request a demo today.

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