New research was presented at ASE 2012, the American Society of Echocardiography’s 23rd Annual Scientific Sessions, from June 30 to July 3 in Maryland. The features below highlight just some of the studies that emerged from the conference.

Echocardiograms for Diagnosing Pulmonary Hypertension

The Particulars: Patients with stable heart failure who have high pulmonary artery systolic pressure are at increased risk for adverse outcomes. A reliable method is needed for measuring pulmonary artery systolic pressure in this patient population.

Data Breakdown: Emory University researchers used echocardiography to diagnose pulmonary hypertension— defined as pulmonary artery systolic pressure higher than 45 mm Hg—in stable outpatients with heart failure. Echocardiography was found to strongly predict higher risk of clinical events. The testing also helped determine which patients would have higher hospitalization rates.

Take Home Pearl: Pulmonary artery systolic pressure as measured by echocardiography appears to provide important prognostic information for patients with stable heart failure.

Ultrasonography Helps Predict Atherosclerosis

The Particulars: The incidence of peripheral arterial disease is rising throughout the United States. However, data from large population-based samples on the prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis in the peripheral arteries are lacking.

Data Breakdown: Investigators in a study used ultrasound exams to look for the presence and degree of popliteal arterial plaque as a predictor of atherosclerosis. Popliteal artery atherosclerosis was prevalent among patients aged 40 or younger who were at risk for becoming obese and/ or having diabetes. Popliteal artery atherosclerosis was independently associated with older age and albuminuria. Urinary albuminuria was also linked with the severity of atherosclerotic plaque burden in the popliteal arteries.

Take Home Pearl: Among younger patients with diabetes and obesity, arterial ultrasonography appears to be useful in determining sub-clinical atherosclerosis.

A Risk Prediction Model for Ischemic Stroke

The Particulars: Some patients with ischemic stroke may also have elevated troponin levels, indicating the potential risk for future cardiac events. A strong risk prediction model could help determine the long-term risks for these patients.

Data Breakdown: Stroke patients participating in a study were retrospectively examined for demographic, clinical, and echocardiographic data. Age, chronic renal failure, and aortic root sclerosis were found to be predictive of death at 4 years after ischemic stroke. For their predictive model, researchers assigned 11 points for renal failure, 3 points for aortic root sclerosis, and 2 points for each decade over age 40. Patients with more than 11 points had an average survival of 39 months, compared with 49 months for those with 5-10 points and 62 months for those with 0-5 points.

Take Home Pearl: A risk prediction model using demographic, clinical, and echocardiographic characteristics appears to help identify ischemic stroke patients who are at increased risk of future adverse outcomes.