This morning along with several hundred others, I had the privilege of attending a masterclass in cardiology. Over the space of three hours we were treated to the presentation of ground breaking research in heart medicine. In this blog I will highlight some of these and give you some of my initial thoughts.
Dabigatran - A new blood thinner - An alternative to Warfarin
There are several new drugs that are being developed to provide an easier, safer alternative to current treatment. Warfarin is used to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with a common heart rhythm disturbance - atrial fibrillation. In atrial fibrillation clots of blood can form inside the heart. Bits of clot can fly off and move via the arteries into the brain. There these block off the blood supply to the brain causing a stroke. At present we use a blood thinner - Warfarin to stop the clots developing. Dabigatran is a new blood thinner. Unlike Warfarin, Dabigatran does not require frequent blood tests to control the dose. It has, however, been shown to be at least as effective as Warfarin. At the same time it seems to cause less abnormal bleeding - particularly into the brain. Dabigatran has been licenced for use in the UK and USA.
A new way of replacing worn out Heart Valves without Open Heart Surgery
As people age the Aortic Valve which controls the supply of blood from the heart to the body may narrow and become inefficient. For many years the standard treatment has been surgical replacement of the warn out valve. In the last few years we have been developing a technique replacement of the valve via a tube inserted through an artery at the top of the leg. This new technique offers hope to patients who are often very elderly and too frail for open heart surgery. It has been found that for these patients this is a life saving procedure.
Advances in the treatment of Heart Failure
As people live longer the numbers of patients with heart failure are increasing. As well as being at increased risk of dying they often have frequent and some times long stays in hospital. Over the last fifteen years the drug treatment of heart failure has much improved. This study has shown improved outlook for these patients with damaged hearts even if they do not have severe symptoms. Patients survive longer and have fewer admissions to hospital when treated with this drug - Eplerenone even when they are already on a number of drugs which have been used up to now.
Over time I hope to cover these and other areas of heart care in my blogs. You can follow me on Twitter, @RobertGreenbaum to hear about these.