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Flu Vaccination & Cardiovascular Outcomes

Flu Vaccination & Cardiovascular Outcomes

Studies have shown that recent influenza-like infection is a non-traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor that has been linked to fatal and non-fatal atherothrombotic events. “There is interest in learning more about the potential association between influenza and subsequent CVD events,” says Jacob A. Udell, MD, MPH, FRCPC. A Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis Small, observational randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have suggested that influenza vaccination helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, leading several medical associations to recommend universal vaccination in patients with or at risk of CVD. In an issue of JAMA, Dr. Udell and colleagues had a study published that more closely examined the link between flu vaccinations and prevention of cardiovascular events. The systematic review and meta-analysis consisted of RCTs of influenza vaccine that studied cardiovascular events as efficacy or safety outcomes. For the study, five published RCTs and another unpublished RCT involving more than 6,700 patients in total met inclusion criteria. Analyses were stratified by subgroups of patients with and without a history of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) within 1 year of randomization. Fewer patients treated with the flu vaccine developed a major adverse cardiovascular event when compared with placebo or control groups (2.9% vs 4.7%, respectively). The addition of the unpublished data did not materially change the results. “The potential impact that this preventive strategy may have on high-risk CVD patients is significant.” “The greatest treatment effect was seen among patients with recent ACS,” adds Dr. Udell. In a subgroup analysis of three RCTs of patients with pre-existing coronary artery disease (CAD), the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events among patients with a history of...
UA/NSTEMI: A Guideline Update

UA/NSTEMI: A Guideline Update

Following the recent FDA approval of new medications to reduce cardiovascular death and heart attack in patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and developments in the literature, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) released a focused update to 2007 guidelines on the management of patients with unstable angina (UA)/NSTEMI. The update, published in Circulation, focuses on how antiplatelets and anticoagulants fit into management algorithms for ACS. Key Updates to UA/NSTEMI Guidelines An important change in the ACC/AHA guideline update is that ticagrelor is now considered a treatment option for UA/NSTEMI patients, joining clopidogrel and prasugrel. “We recommend that when aspirin is given with ticagrelor for maintenance therapy, a low dose of aspirin (81 mg) should be used after the initial loading dose,” says Jeffrey L. Anderson, MD, FACC, FAHA, co-author of the guidelines. “Research shows that a high dose of aspirin appears to reduce the benefits of ticagrelor.” Aspirin remains a first-line therapy for managing patients with UA/NSTEMI. “When these patients arrive at the hospital, they should receive aspirin and an anticoagulant,” says Dr. Anderson. “Clinicians should then decide upon a second antiplatelet agent before angiography to define coronary anatomy. Clopidogrel, ticagrelor, or an intravenous glyco­protein IIb/IIIa agent are acceptable options. At or after coronary stenting, prasugrel becomes an additional option.” For patients receiving medical therapy only, the ACC/AHA guidelines recommend antiplatelet therapy with ticagrelor or clopidogrel, in addition to aspirin. Several changes were made in the guideline update regarding patients with renal insufficiency. “It’s important to assure that these patients are well hydrated if they’re going to the cath lab and that they...
The Impact of Depression on ED Stays in ACS Patients

The Impact of Depression on ED Stays in ACS Patients

Studies suggest that about 30% of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) experience symptoms of depression during hospitalization. These patients are nearly twice as likely to die from ACS or have recurrent cardiac disease when compared with those who aren’t depressed. The ED is often the first point of contact for treating ACS patients, and recent research suggests that psychosocial factors may impact aspects of care in the ED, including length of stay (LOS). Depression, ACS, & LOS It has been hypothesized that longer ED LOS may be associated with adverse clinical outcomes for those with ACS, especially among those with depression. In a recent issue of BMC Emergency Medicine, my colleagues and I sought to determine if depressed ACS patients experienced different ED care than those without depression. After reviewing data from 120 participants, we found that currently depressed ACS patients spent an average of 5.4 more hours in the ED than those who had never been depressed. Not surprisingly, our study also revealed that presentation to the ED during off-peak hours was associated with longer ED LOS. Interestingly, no significant associations were observed with other demographic variables that might be expected to influence ED LOS, including race, ethnicity, or neighborhood income. Furthermore, these variables did not appear to account for the association between depression and ED LOS. Making Interpretations Data from our study are preliminary, but indicate that there is likely an association between depression and longer ED LOS. There are several possible explanations for this finding. Depression may influence how ACS patients present to the ED, report their symptoms, recruit family members or friends to accompany...
Improving QOL With Coronary Interventions

Improving QOL With Coronary Interventions

For more than 30 years, research has indicated that PCI decreases mortality in STEMI and reduces recurrent ischemic events in patients with non-ST elevation acute coronary syndrome. The overriding goal in performing PCI for these patients is to reduce morbidity and mortality, but quality of life (QOL) is another important aspect to consider. Studies comparing QOL after PCI versus medical therapy or CABG generally report on angina, but this is only one symptom that is relieved by coronary interventions. PCI can also enhance the ability to function, exercise, and perform activities of daily living in many patients. Some comorbidities, however, can limit QOL before and after PCI and may minimize the chances of any improvement in QOL after undergoing the procedure. Individualizing Approaches for PCI & CABG The Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) released a consensus statement on the effect of PCI on QOL. Published in an issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions, the document recommends that clinicians take into consideration that improvements in QOL due to PCI vary from patient to patient. For example, patients who are severely limited by angina will have dramatic improvements in QOL if PCI relieves the angina. However, patients who are severely limited by other medical problems may not experience much improvement in QOL after PCI. Investigations comparing CABG to PCI suggest that QOL is better in the first few months after PCI. At 3 to 5 months, QOL is similar for both PCI and CABG. After 1, 3, and even 5 years, however, QOL tends to be better for patients who receive CABG. When counseling patients on treatment decisions, SCAI...

Protecting Older, Vulnerable Patients From the Flu

People aged 65 and older account for more than 60% of the estimated 226,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 90% of the 3,000 to 49,000 flu-related deaths in the United States each year. This age group is at highest risk for contracting influenza and developing its potentially serious complications, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections, and coronary problems. Flu symptoms can even exacerbate other comorbid conditions. This puts patients at greater risk for complications and reduces quality of life. Collectively, these health issues can result in hospitalization and even death in older patients. Be Vigilant of Those at Higher Risk for Flu As the 2012-2013 influenza season continues and we look ahead to the next, it’s important to improve community-wide vaccination rates so that we can protect public health, especially when treating adults aged 65 and up. Seniors are at higher risk for influenza because the immune system weakens with age. In turn, the body’s ability to produce a sufficient amount of protective antibodies is reduced. When considering influenza vaccine resources for the season, it’s important to offer a variety of vaccine options and newer delivery systems. Merle C. Turner, DO A few years ago, the healthcare world received good news when a higher dose of the influenza vaccine was approved by the FDA for older patients. Designed for those aged 65 and older, the vaccine generates a stronger immune response because it contains four times the amount of antigen as the standard dose. While the high-dose vaccine has shown a higher risk for side effects at the injection site, there is no greater risk of a systemic reaction than...
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