200-Year-Old Heart Drug Linked To Increased Risk Of Death

For more than 200 years physicians have been trying to figure out how and when to use the heart drug digoxin.  Although it has a narrow therapeutic window and potentially dangerous interactions with other drugs, it is endorsed by current guidelines and widely given to patients with heart failure (HF) and atrial fibrillation (AF). However, there…

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What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been: FDA Approves Watchman Device From Boston Scientific

Finally reaching its destination after an extremely long and strange trip, Boston Scientific gained approval from the FDA today to market its Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device in the US. The device has been in development for well over a decade and had been turned down by the FDA on several occasions. … Click here to…

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FDA Approves New Oral Anticoagulant From Daiichi Sankyo

And then there were four. Late Thursday the FDA announced that it had approved edoxaban, the new oral anticoagulant manufactured by Daiichi Sankyo. The drug will be marketed under the brand name of Savaysa and joins three other new drugs in the large and important new oral anticoagulant marketplace… … Click here to read the full post on Forbes, including a…

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AF Patients at Increased Risk for Silent Strokes

The increased risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation (AF) is well known, and this stroke risk is, of course, linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Less well known is that people with AF have an increased risk for cognitive impairment independent of their stroke risk. Now a new study published…

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FDA Panel Gives Cautious Endorsement To Novel Boston Scientific Device

The FDA’s Circulatory System Devices advisory panel gave an extremely cautious endorsement on Wednesday to Boston Scientific’s Watchman device, a novel catheter-delivered left atrial appendage closure device for people with atrial fibrillation. They signaled that although they thought the device should be made available they also thought that there should be significant restrictions on its use. … Click here…

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Novel Boston Scientific Device Headed For Another Rough FDA Panel

On Wednesday Boston Scientific’s Watchman device will once again appear before the FDA’s Circulatory System Devices advisory panel.  The Watchman is a novel catheter-delivered left atrial appendage closure device which is intended to be used in place of chronic warfarin therapy to lower the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. It has been under development for more than…

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Study Offers Little Support for an Old Drug

Digoxin is one of the oldest drugs in the cardiovascular arsenal, derived from the foxglove plant and first described in the 18th century by William Withering. It is frequently used in patients with heart failure (HF) and with atrial fibrillation (AF). The few trials supporting its use were performed in HF patients before newer treatments…

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Yet Another Delay For Boston Scientific’s Watchman Device

Boston Scientific hopes the third time will be the charm. The company disclosed on Tuesday yet another obstacle in the path to approval for its novel Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Although it has already been before two FDA advisory panels, the company said…

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Hospitalizations For Atrial Fibrillation Are On The Rise

In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart rhythm disorder. Although it is sometimes thought to be relatively benign, AF increases the risk of stroke if untreated. Even if treated, it can be the source of significant discomfort and can contribute to additional complications, especially…

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Exercise: Can There Be Too Much Of A Good Thing?

In recent years researchers have developed a more complicated view of the relationship of health and exercise. Although observational studies have consistently shown that some physical activity is better than none, studies that have drilled deeper into the data suggest that these health benefits may be curtailed in people who exercise very frequently or very…

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New Atrial Fibrillation Guideline Supports New Drugs And Devices

A new guideline for atrial fibrillation (AF) was released on Friday by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Rhythm Society. Among other features, the 2014 Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation incorporates important new information about the new oral anticoagulants and catheter ablation for the treatment…

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Warfarin Benefits Extended To Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease

Anticoagulation is a cornerstone of therapy for atrial fibrillation because it lowers the heightened risk for stroke in this population. People with chronic kidney disease are also at increased risk for stroke, but the benefits of anticoagulation are less clear in this group, and anticoagulation is used less often in AF patients who have CKD….

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Artery Zapping Little Better Than Drugs In Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder. Although AF is not as lethal as some other arrhythmias, AF patients are at high risk for stroke and other serious complications. AF is also very difficult to treat. Although drugs are ineffective in a large percentage of patients, drugs are considered first line therapy in…

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Problems Persist Despite Gains In Oral Anticoagulant Use

Although significant progress has been made in recent years, a new survey from the European Society of Cardiology finds that there are still too many atrial fibrillation patients who are not taking the best medications to reduce their elevated risk of stroke. Many elderly patients are not receiving oral anticoagulants and overall too many patients…

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FDA Panel Gives Support To Novel Stroke Prevention Device From Boston Scientific

The FDA’s Circulatory System Devices Panel yesterday gave a vote of confidence to Boston Scientific’s Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for the prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients. By a large majority the panel agreed that the device was effective, that it was safe, and that the benefits outweighed the risks. In each case the…

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Boston Scientific May Face A Tough FDA Panel

On Wednesday the FDA’s Circulatory System Devices Panel will once again review Boston Scientific’s Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for the prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients (click here for the meeting materials). The panel will be the latest chapter in the long and contentious story of the Watchman. In 2010 the FDA issued a complete response…

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Large Study Finds Favorable Risk-Benefit Profile For The New Anticoagulants

A very large new meta-analysis finds a favorable risk-benefit for the new oral anticoagulant drugs in the setting of atrial fibrillation. The findings, published online in the Lancet, were remarkably consistent for all four of the new agents which have been fighting to replace warfarin, which was the only oral anticoagulant available for decades until the arrival of…

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Can Personalized Medicine And An Adaptive Trial Design Salvage This Hard Luck Drug?

Arca Biopharma today announced that it had received FDA clearance to start a phase 2B/3 trial of its novel beta-blocker, Gencaro (bucindolol) for the prevention of atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure. The GENETIC-AF trial has all the hallmarks of the modern era: the drug will only be tested in patients with a genetic variation that the…

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New Anticoagulant From Daiichi Sankyo Works Well In AF Patients

Edoxaban, a direct oral factor Xa inhibitor under development by Daiichi Sankyo, is the latest in the series of new oral anticoagulants seeking to take over the troubled role of warfarin in clinical practice. The results of ENGAGE-AF-TIMI 48 were presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Dallas and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine. The results of the trial were…

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Too Much, Too Fast? Cross-Country Skiing And Heart Arrhythmias

When it comes to exercise it may be true that you can do too much or go too fast. It may seem counterintuitive but a new study finds that among cross-country skiers the risk of having a cardiac arrhythmia was highest in those who raced the fastest or most often. … In a paper published in…

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Encouraging 4 Year Results For Watchman Device In AF Patients

Encouraging long-term results from the PROTECT AF trial comparing the Watchman left atrial appendage closure device to warfarin in atrial fibrillation patients were presented yesterday at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in Denver. Previously, the main results of the trial, published in the Lancet, demonstrated that the Watchman was noninferior to warfarin, but the total number of events…

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Following An Embargo Break PREVAIL Trial Won’t Be Presented At ACC

UPDATED–The already complicated story behind the PREVAIL trial, which was designed to confirm the safety and efficacy of the Watchman left atrial appendage closure device, just got even more complicated. This morning, after the trial’s sponsor, Boston Scientific, prematurely distributed to investors a press release summarizing the results of the trial, the ACC announced that…

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Rivaroxaban Effective In Medically Ill Patients But At High Bleeding Cost

The recent arrival of novel oral anticoagulants has provided important new options for venous thromboembolism (VTE) treatment and prevention. New indications for these drugs have been granted for patients with atrial fibrillation and following orthopedic surgery. But an additional indication, for acutely ill medical patients at risk for VTE, does not appear likely in the…

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Small Study Suggests Yoga May Benefit AF Patients

A small study published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that yoga may benefit people who have atrial fibrillation. The study, which the authors describe as “a small, proof-of-concept study,” is the first of its kind. The findings raise the possibility that yoga may reduce AF symptoms and arrhythmia burden. Other…

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Trials Of Niacin And Atrial Fibrillation Device Will Headline American College Of Cardiology Program

ACC.13 logo

Two big trials will highlight this year’s American College of Cardiology meeting in March in San Francisco. First is the PREVAIL trial testing Boston Scientific‘s long-anticipated Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. Second is  the detailed presentation of the controversial failed HPS2-THRIVE trial of extended-release niacin and laropiprant. Read my…

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