The Twitter Debate Over Cholesterol Screening In Kids

–Cardiologists discuss the screening controversy in 140 characters or less. My recent post on the debate over cholesterol screening in children provoked a fascinating discussion on Twitter, including comments from several highly knowledgeable experts and clinicians. The discussion started when James Stein, a preventive cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin), tweeted: Lipid screening in kids….

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Experts Disagree About Cholesterol Screening In Kids

(Updated) –Lack of evidence leads to major disagreement over guidelines. Once again the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has performed an invaluable— and almost certainly thankless— service. In a series of papers published in JAMA and Annals of Internal Medicine the USPSTF states unequivocally that there is no good high quality evidence to evaluate…

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Study Questions ‘Lower Is Better’ For Cholesterol

–No added benefit for statin patients who reached very low LDL levels A large observational study suggests that moderate lowering of LDL may be just as effective as intensive lowering. “Our results do not provide support for a blanket principle that lower LDL cholesterol is better for all patients in secondary prevention,” the authors conclude….

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The American Heart Association’s Strong Stance Against Science

Once again the American Heart Association has taken a strong stance against science. Of course, that’s not how the AHA phrases it. In its own words the AHA says it “strongly refutes the findings” of a “flawed study” which “you shouldn’t use… to inform yourself about how you’re going to eat.” But in fact the…

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Study Suggests Salt Restriction Only Beneficial In People With Hypertension

–More questions raised about broad efforts to restrict salt; AHA condemns study A large new analysis offers more evidence that broad salt restriction doesn’t benefit most people and may even harm some people. The study did find that salt restriction may be beneficial to the minority of people with high blood pressure who also consume…

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Entresto Gets Boost in Updated HF Guidelines

–Valsartan/sacubitril earns Class I recommendation Cardiology groups in the U.S. and Europe have updated their heart failure guidelines to include much-awaited recommendations for Entresto (the combination of valsartan and sacubitril manufactured by Novartis). The new guidelines offer broad support for the new drug. Since its approval last summer Entresto has struggled to gain a foothold…

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New Cardio Drugs Off To Very Slow Start

–Heart failure experts divided over how and when to use Entresto To many long-time observers, the approval last year of two new cholesterol drugs and a heart failure drug appeared to herald a rebirth of the cardiovascular marketplace after a long period of dormancy. But so far in 2016, those new drugs have hardly made…

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FDA Expands Metformin Label

— The diabetes drug can now be used in more patients with reduced kidney function The FDA on Friday greatly expanded the indication for the type 2 diabetes drug metformin. Until now use of metformin in patients with reduced kidney function had not been recommended. The new label states that metformin “can be used safely…

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How Should SPRINT Influence High Blood Pressure In Children And Adolescents?

–Editorialists say pediatric hypertension in children is ready for a ‘paradigm shift’ Last year’s influential— and highly controversial— SPRINT trial should be used to better inform and influence our understanding and management of hypertension in children, write two influential physicians who have played a key role in the cardiovascular guidelines for children and adolescents. They…

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Top HF Expert Decries ‘Unbelievable Folly’ of Clinical Trials and Guidelines

–Milton Packer, MD, calls the system to test and evaluate heart failure drugs dysfunctional The system is completely broken, writes heart failure specialist Milton Packer, MD, in an editorial in Circulation: Heart Failure. The results of important clinical trials are not being incorporated into guidelines quickly, intelligently, or consistently, Packer argued. The most important reason…

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Why Guidelines Are Bad For Science

 Bad guidelines don’t just give bad advice. They also harm science and impede research. The new US Dietary Guidelines– which I’ve already called a recipe for disaster— are a perfect example of why we need to have fewer, shorter, and, crucially, better guidelines. Back in 2014, in response to the controversy over salt guidelines, I…

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Recipe For Disaster: The New US Dietary Guidelines

The science of nutrition is a disaster. For a variety of very good reasons it is nearly impossible to perform high quality, long term randomized controlled trials to provide satisfactory answers to most of the pressing questions of the day. But many experts are convinced they do know the answer to many of these questions….

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Paper Raises More Questions About Salt Restriction In Heart Failure

Sodium restriction is a cornerstone of heart failure management, but many people would be surprised to learn that there is no good supporting evidence for the practice. In the 2009 heart failure guidelines sodium restriction in heart failure received a Class I recommendation (recommended), but this was based only on expert consensus (a C level of evidence of…

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Lancet Sprints To The Front With A Blood Pressure Meta-Analysis

A new meta-analysis published in the Lancet on Friday lends fresh support to calls for more intensive blood pressure treatments. The publication comes only days before the highly anticipated presentation of the NIH’s SPRINT trial at the American Heart Association, which is also expected to offer support for stricter blood pressure control. Blood pressure goals were relaxed after the ACCORD…

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You Don’t Know It But The Debate About SPRINT Is Already Over

On Monday you’re going to hear a lot– an awful lot– about SPRINT. That’s the big NIH blood pressure trial which was stopped early. On September 11 an NIH press release trumpeted the positive results without revealing most of the important details. This Monday, finally, the results are scheduled to be presented at the American Heart…

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Slow Start For New Novartis Heart Failure Drug Entresto

Initial sales of Entresto (the combination of sacubitril and valsartan, formerly known as LCZ696) have been slow. In the first few months after its approval in July the drug only had $16 million in sales, the drug’s manufacturer, Novartis, reported last week during its quarterly earnings report. The novel heart failure drug is widely expected to be…

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Primary PCI Guideline Update: Multivessel Interventions In, Thrombectomy Out

The guidelines for primary PCI for ST-elevation MI (STEMI) have been updated to reflect major findings from recent trials: PCI of a noninfarct artery is now acceptable for some STEMI patients with multivessel disease. In previous guidelines PCI of noninfarct arteries had been considered unsafe. Routine thrombectomy prior to primary PCI for stent implantation is now…

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Heart Failure Experts SPRINT To An Early Finish

According to a recent news report a group of prominent heart failure doctors  have eagerly embraced a lower blood pressure target of 120 mm Hg for heart failure patients based on the preliminary results of the SPRINT trial announced last month. But another equally prominent heart failure doctor says that it is far too early to…

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SPRINT Trial To Be Presented At The American Heart Association Meeting In November

Update: I have now received confirmation that SPRINT will be presented on Monday, November 9 at 2 PM. The SPRINT trial, which provoked a storm of excitement and controversy a few weeks ago, will be presented in November at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando. The trial is not currently on the list of late-breaking clinical trials but…

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BMJ Paper Criticizes Proposed US Dietary Guidelines

Once again experts are passionately disagreeing about the proper role of saturated fats and carbohydrates in the diet. The latest volley comes from a full-scale critique  published in the BMJ  of proposed new US dietary guidelines. The author of the critique, Nina Teicholz,  is the author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. In both the…

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NIH Trial, Stopped Early, Supports More Intensive Blood Pressure Targets

More stringent blood pressure targets could save lives and reduce cardiovascular events, according to preliminary results from a large NIH clinical trial that was stopped early. The SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) trial randomized 9,361 hypertensive patients 50 years of age or older to the standard systolic blood pressure target (when the trial began) of 140…

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Doctors Halt Squabbling And Agree How To Manage Hypertension In People With Blocked Arteries

There’s been a lot of drama in the hypertension field over the past few years. Initially sparked by the decision of the National Institutes of Health to end its sponsorship of national guidelines, the subsequent appearance of multiple guidelines with divergent recommendations led to even more controversy and discussion. Now, however, the appearance of a new scientific statement…

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More Guideline Controversy: The Tricky Business Of Calculating Cardiovascular Risk

Calculating cardiovascular risk has become a central and highly controversial component of cardiovascular guidelines. Now a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that most of the commonly employed tools seriously overestimate the risk of people today. … Click here to read the full post on Forbes….

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New US Guidelines Will Lift Limits On Dietary Cholesterol

The influential  Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended that limitations on dietary cholesterol be removed from the upcoming 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Recommendations to reduce dietary cholesterol have been a mainstay of the USDA and other guidelines for many years, starting with guidelines from the American Heart Association in the 1960s. … Click here to read…

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Another Study Raises Questions About Blood Pressure Guidelines

Although the general benefits of lowering high blood pressure are widely accepted, there has been intense debate over specific goals for treatment and the threshold at which therapy should be initiated.  A large new meta-analsysis published in JAMA helps shed lights on this important controversy. UK and Australian researchers analyzed the effect of lowering blood pressure in people…

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