Recent cardiology research of note for primary care practitioners

By Matt Kuhrt

The American College of Cardiology's 2016 meeting featured several studies that should be on primary care practitioners' radar screens, according to an article in Medscape.

The publication had John Mandrola, M.D., sift through the research presented at the meeting in order to identify findings with a potential impact on primary care practice over the near term. Here's a sampling:

  • Research suggests doctors don't talk to patients enough about deactivating implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) as part of advance care planning. In the case of ICDs, a Dutch study indicated patients with ICDs were unaware that their devices could be deactivated as part of end-of-life planning. Physicians can deactivate the devices to keep them from unnecessarily and painfully prolonging patients' lives when they might be better off succumbing peacefully to a cardiac event.
  • Data from the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation-3 (HOPE-3) trial suggest combination therapies adding statins to antihypertensive agents offer a statistically significant benefit for intermediate-risk patient populations. Mandrola notes that such polypills have limited use for primary prevention, and he advises doctors to use the statistics to help patients make an informed decision about whether to take the pills.
  • The Chest Pain Choice (CPC) Trial found that use of a one-page tool helped reduce costly unnecessary testing for low-risk patients presenting with chest pain. The study took place in emergency departments, but Mandrola sees applicability anywhere, especially since the form takes two minutes to fill out and increases patient knowledge, makes life easier for physicians and makes payers happier by reducing overall system costs.

To learn more:
- read the article
- see the HOPE-3 results
- check out the ICD study
- read about the CPC study