JUNE 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness



So, what is the latest in cardiovascular research and treatment? That was the main discussion during the recently concluded ACC 2011/ i2 Summit in New Orleans. Indeed, it was an exciting conference attended by a large number of cardiologists both from the United States and other countries. The annual scientific session presented the latest in cutting-edge technology, drug trials, new interventions as well as a lot of core curriculum sessions for the practicing physician.

The traditional opening was grand with a Nobel laureate, Dr. James Orbinski, a former president of Doctors without Borders, widely recognized as a humanitarian and advocate for global health, addressing the audience. His talk was moving as he gave first-hand accounts of the genocide in Rwanda, the AIDS epidemic in South Africa and the new health threat posed by climate changes such as global warming. He particularly stressed on the worldwide human suffering and the power of hope and the ability of people to work together and “remake their reality.” “Human suffering does not take place in a political vacuum,” he said. How true! Don’t we know this from what is happening in Middle East and other countries?

One area that garnered a lot of attention was replacement of a damaged heart valve without open heart surgery. This will save a lot of complications resulting from such surgery and will be more economical too. The ‘PARTNER’ trial addressed exactly that question and the results were presented. It appears a catheter-based (trans-catheter or TAVR) method of aortic valve replacement vs. a standard surgical therapy showed that this technique is equally successful, safe and also cost-effective. In fact, early mortality rates favored TAVR group. This is certainly welcome news.

State-of-the-art care in acute heart attacks is still evolving. “The critical time is the first two hours of heart attack and even a 10-minute delay can increase mortality,” said Dr. Manish Patel of Duke University, one of the featured speakers in a special symposium addressing the management issues on this hot topic. Removing the clots formed in the affected coronary artery and opening up the clogged artery before losing much of heart muscle that it supplies are the primary goals. Patients need to be aware that they have to call 911 and establish contact with the nearest heart center as soon as the symptoms begin.

There is good news for those suffering from ‘Atrial Fibrillation’ a heart irregularity, common among older people, diabetics and the obese. There is a new blood thinner on the market, ‘dabigatran’ that promises to replace ‘warfarin or coumadin,’ the common drug in current usage. The latter drug is unpopular with patients because of its bleeding potential and the need for constant monitoring. Dabigatran appears to be equally effective but with less potential for bleeding complications as per the recent trial, ‘RE-LY’, that enrolled more than 18,000 patients.

Health information technology is fast evolving and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) is already happening. You will find during your doctor’s office visit that the physician is spending a lot of time talking to his computer. Hopefully, EHR will facilitate better care for all patients by giving the physicians access to all details about their patients, including their risk factor profile, current drug therapy, recent test data, etc. This will certainly increase connectivity between doctors and hospitals and everybody else involved in patient care and should improve patient outcomes.

Lately, ACC has been sponsoring joint sessions with cardiovascular societies from different countries to understand and find appropriate solutions for the global cardiovascular burden. There was a wide variety of internationally oriented educational and social activities designed for the international attendees of the convention. There were sessions with Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Chinese and Indian cardiac societies. These sessions bring physicians from diverse cultures together and help ACC to do mutually beneficial collaborative studies.

(To be continued)

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan is a Brooksville cardiologist.

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