Heart Disease and Stroke in 2011: Mortality Continues to Decline, but Overall Burden Remains High

From 1997 to 2007, the death rate from heart disease declined 27.8% and the death rate from stroke declined 44.8%. But inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures increased during the same period by 27%, and heart disease and stroke cost $286 billion in 2007, more than any other diagnostic group. These are some of the most…

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Dangling Doctors In Front of Journalists

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False-Positive CT Angiogram Leads to Heart Transplant

A 52-year old woman with atypical chest pain ended up with a heart transplant after a CT angiogram to “reassure” her sparked a devastating sequence of events. Following a false-positive CT angiogram, the patient underwent coronary angiography and suffered a dissection of the left main coronary artery, followed by emergency CABG, subsequent graft failure, and…

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Midei’s Business As Usual Defense:”This Is the Way It’s Done”

Mark Midei’s lawyer responded to the sensational reports earlier this week about his client’s relationship to Abbot. In defending his client he gave a preview of Midei’s defense. According to a story by Tricia Bishop in the Baltimore Sun, “it was business as usual for the medical profession.” “All of these events were legal; they were…

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NMT Gets Plugged (Not in a Good Way) by Ben Goldacre

Highly recommended weekend reading: in his Bad Science column in the UK’s Guardian, Ben Goldacre, the physician and best-selling author and columnist, brutally dissects NMT Medical, the troubled medical company that makes closure devices that have had a poor record in the clinical trial arena. CardioBrief readers will likely recall the company’s vicious assault on Peter…

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Spinning Out of Control: Another Look at the PROTECT II Press Release

Editor’s Note: This is a substantially updated version of a previously published story. It includes new commentary from David Hillis, Rick Lange, and myself. Additional update, December 11, 2010: The PROTECT II press release appears to be a very clear violation of the Ingelfinger Rule. Although companies are obligated to release the top line results…

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CDC Demotes Stroke to Fourth Leading Cause of Death

Chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) has replaced stroke as the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to preliminary 2008 statistics published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. In 2008, there were 133,750 deaths from stroke compared to 141,075 deaths from CLRD. Although the stroke rate has been declining for many…

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Meta-Analysis Finds Aromatase Inhibitors Increase Risk for Heart Disease

A new meta-analysis has found that postmenopausal women taking aromatase inhibitors (AIs) instead of tamoxifen to treat breast cancer appear to be at increased risk for cardiovascular complications. The results were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium….

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Abbott Subsidiary Pays $41 Million Penalty for Niaspan/Advicor Kickbacks

The US Department of Justice announced today that Kos Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, will pay $41 million dollars to resolve liability for paying kickbacks and engaging in other illegal activities in marketing Advicor and Niaspan. The Justice Department said that the company offered and paid “illegal kickbacks in the form of money, free…

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Third Time Is the Charm: FDA Panel Finally Backs an Obesity Pill

Following rejections earlier this year of two previous anti-obesity drugs, the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs advisory committee recommended approval for Contrave, the combination of sustained release forumulations of naltrexone and buproprion from Orexigen Therapeutics….

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PROTECT II Study of Impella Stopped Early for Futility

This story has been substantially updated. Click here to read the updated story. The PROTECT II study has been stopped early. The trial had been comparing the Impella circulatory support device to the intra-aortic balloon (IAB) in high risk PCI patients. The trial was terminated after an interim analysis by the Data and Safety Monitoring…

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Questions Raised About Compensation and Conflicts at Duke

A group of Duke students protested the excessive compensation given to some top Duke officials, including cardiologist Victor Dzau, who is the Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University. In response to the protest, one noted advocate for health care reform says that Dzau has enriched himself even further through service on four separate corporate…

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Meta-Analysis: Daily Aspirin Reduces Cancer Deaths

A new analysis finds that long-term aspirin use reduces deaths from several common cancers. Previous studies had only shown a convincing benefit in colorectal cancer. In the new meta-analysis, appearing online in the Lancet, Peter Rothwell and colleagues combined data from more than 25,000 patients enrolled in long-term randomized trials of aspirin. They showed that patients…

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Senate Report on Mark Midei and Abbott: 30 Stents in 1 Day, Pig Roasts, and More

[Updated] Mark Midei, the interventional cardiologist who has been accused of implanting hundreds of unnecessary stents at St. Joseph Medical Center in Maryland, was congratulated by Abbott Labs for implanting 30 stents in one day. “I heard thru the grapevine that you had a truly outstanding day with Xience in the labs on Friday, perhaps setting…

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Ticagrelor (Brilique) gains European approval

AstraZeneca’s ticagrelor (Brilique) gained European approval this morning. In most EU countries, however, ticagrelor will not be available for the second months, “due to pricing and reimbursement negotiations,” according to the company. Click here for previous coverage of ticagrelor on CardioBrief….

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Rivaroxaban Found Safe and Effective for DVT

In the EINSTEIN-DVT noninferiority study, 3449 patients with acute DVT were randomized to receive open label oral rivaroxaban or conventional therapy with enoxaparin followed by warfarin or acenocoumarol for 3, 6, or 12 months. The rate of recurrent VTE, the primary efficacy outcome, was lower with rivaroxaban treatment than with enoxaparin treatment, successfully demonstrating noninferiority for…

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The Possible Return of the Missing Case Report of the Exploding ICD

The missing case report of an “exploding” ICD may be back. Two months ago I recounted the strange series of events following the initial online publication of a case report in Europace about an extremely rare and spectacular failure of a Biotronik ICD. The battery of the device apparently overheated, causing the device to malfunction…

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Vanity Fair Article Eviscerates Globalization of Clinical Trials

The globalization of the pharmaceutical industry, and in particular the outsourcing of clinical trials to “sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese,” is brought to light and critically assaulted in “Deadly Medicine,” an article in Vanity Fair by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele. CardioBrief readers are probably familiar with this topic, but the full magnitude of…

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Heart Failure Death Statistics: Don’t believe what you read on the internet

Editor’s note: The following guest post by Mary Knudson originally appeared on her blog, Heart Sense: A Blog About Heart Failure. Knudson worked for 17 years as a medical writer for The Baltimore Sun and currently teaches science and medical writing at Johns Hopkins University. Along with Edward Kasper, clinical chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins…

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New Performance Measures for Peripheral Artery Disease Issued

Performance measures to improve the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD) in adults have been published for the first time. The document was produced by the ACC, the AHA, and several other medical organizations. Here are a few key details of the performance measures:…

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Study Finds No Link Between Cancer and Antihypertensives, Except for ARB-ACE Inhibitor Combo

A new meta-analysis has found no evidence of a large cancer risk for most common antihypertensive agents, but did find strong evidence, largely based on one trial, for at least a 10% increase in cancer risk with the rarely used angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) combination. In a paper in the Lancet Oncology, Sripal Bangalore…

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MARINE: New Fish Oil Pill Slashes High Triglycerides

A new prescription-grade formulation of ethyl-EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, significantly lowers triglycerides but doesn’t increase LDL. These were the top line results of the MARINE trial released on Monday by Amarin Corporation, which is developing the drug, now known as AMR101. MARINE randomized 229 patients with triglyceride levels of 500 mg/dl or greater to…

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Greek Study Offers Reassurance About Statin Usage in Patients with Abnormal Liver Tests

Among the 1600 patients randomized in the GREACE (Greek Atorvastatin and Coronary Heart Disease Evaluation) study, 437 had moderately abnormal liver tests at baseline suggesting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In a post-hoc analysis of this subset of patients published in the Lancet, the GREACE Study Collaborative Group reported a dramatic 68% reduction in the rate…

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Guest Post: Of Drug Talks, Deception, and Denial

This guest post by Roy Poses, MD, is reprinted with permission from Health Care Renewal. by Roy M. Poses, MD A month ago, we discussed a series of reports by Pro Publica and multiple other respected news organizations about payments by seven pharmaceutical companies to thousands of doctors.  Industry often claims that they only pay the best and the…

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SHARP: A Tale of Two Press Releases

Two press releases were issued about the SHARP trial : one from Merck, the much-maligned and criticized manufacturer of Vytorin (the combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin), and one from the group running the trial, the highly-respected Clinical Trials Service Unit (CTSU) at Oxford. Here’s the surprise: compared to the Oxford press reelease, the Merck release…

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