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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Salt, Science, And The American Heart Association’s Double Standard

Once again the American Heart Association is sticking by its recommendation that pretty much everyone should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. This is dramatically lower than the 3,500 mg/d the average American now consumes. In a blog post reprinted on MedPage Today the president of the American Heart Association,  Elliott Antman, assails a study published earlier this week which found no…

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How Much Salt Should Old People Consume?

A new study offers fresh evidence that current salt recommendations should be taken with, well, a grain of salt. Current guidelines now recommend that everyone should have sodium intake levels below 2300 mg per day. For many people at higher risk, including everyone over 50 years of age, sodium intake should be below 1500 mg/d….

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Another Diet Myth Exploded: Gradual Weight Loss No Better Than Rapid Weight Loss

Once again, a popular weight loss myth has been exploded. It has been widely believed that weight loss, which is nearly always difficult to maintain, is even less likely to stay lost if it is the product of a rapid weight loss. The belief is even enshrined in current guidelines. Now a study published in The Lancet…

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A ‘Disappeared’ Article, Finally Published, Finds A Desultory Response To Scientific Misconduct

Back in January an article in the European Heart Journal raising the disturbing possibility that guidelines based on fraudulent research may have been responsible for as many as 800,000 deaths was “disappeared” from the journal’s website only minutes after being published. The journal’s editor claimed the article had not been properly peer reviewed. In its place the editors published an editorial refuting…

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Cardiology Group Withdraws ‘Choosing Wisely’ Recommendation

In the end it wasn’t wisdom for the ages. The American College of Cardiology said today that it was withdrawing one of its five recommendations in the “Choosing Wisely” campaign.  In 2012 the ACC recommended that heart attack patients should have only their culprit artery unblocked. It said that patients and caregivers should question whether complete revascularization of all…

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Why Guidelines Should Be Waged Like War

Here’s a modest proposal: we need fewer and shorter guidelines. In fact, I’d like to propose that guidelines, like war, should be waged only when there is absolute consensus and overwhelming evidence. Anyone interested in the subject is aware that guidelines are in a complete mess. … Click here to read the full post on Forbes.  …

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An Old Study Fuels Debate Over Blood Pressure Guidelines

In the last year new guidelines relating to cardiovascular disease have been the subject of intense criticism and debate. The status of the blood pressure guidelines has been particularly contentious, since several different groups have published contradictory guidelines, while several authors of the most prominent group, the Eighth Joint National Committee, published an impassioned dissent…

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An Expert’s Perspective: Why Salt Is Not Like Tobacco And Why Guidelines Are Tricky

At the center of this week’s renewed debate on salt was Salim Yusuf, the long influential and often controversial cardiology researcher and clinical trialist based at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. I spoke with Yusuf before the publication of the New England Journal of Medicine papers, which include his own two papers from the PURE study. Yusuf was troubled…

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New Studies Fuel The Debate Over Sodium

Three papers and an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine are sure to throw fresh fuel on the ongoing fiery debate over sodium recommendations. Current guidelines recommend that people should limit their intake of sodium to 1.5  to 2.4 grams per day, but these recommendations are based on projections and have never been tested in clinical…

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Guideline Critics Shift Attacks From Beta Blockers To Statins

With the release today of updated European and US guidelines the ongoing controversy regarding beta-blockers appears to be resolved. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be an outbreak of guideline peace and harmony. The critics who helped ignite the controversy over beta blockers now say new statin recommendations contained in the guidelines are based on deeply flawed evidence….

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Dutch Investigation Finds Serious Flaws In Influential New England Journal Of Medicine Study

Erasmus Medical Center says it has wrapped up its investigation of Don Poldermans, the disgraced cardiology researcher who was fired for research misconduct. The full extent of the misconduct has never been known, and from an examination of the Erasmus report it appears likely that it never will be known. One major finding– though downplayed in…

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Prophylactic ICDs Appear Effective In Less Severe HF Patients

ICDs are routinely implanted in heart failure patients with ejection fractions (EFs) of 35% and lower to prevent sudden cardiac death. However, the benefits in patients at the higher end of the spectrum– between 30% and 35%– have not been well demonstrated in clinical trials, since few patients in this range have been enrolled in…

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12.8 Million More Adults Now Eligible For Statin Therapy

Millions more people are now eligible for statin therapy under the new cholesterol guideline, according to a new estimate published in the New England Journal of Medicine. … There have been many attempts to quantify just how many more people are now eligible for statin therapy under the new guideline. Now in the new paper in NEJM, Michael Pencina…

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Heart Societies Issue New Guidelines For Valve Disease

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology today released new practice guidelines [PDF] for the management of patients with valvular heart disease (VHD). Among its most notable features, the new document provides a new system of classification for VHD and lowers the threshold for interventions, including, for the first time, transcatheter as…

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Minority Report: Five Guideline Authors Reject Change In Blood Pressure Goal

Confusion

It didn’t seem possible but the guideline situation just got even more confusing. Last December, after  years of delay and other twists and turns, the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8) hypertension guideline was published in JAMA. The previous guideline recommended that all adults have a target systolic blood pressure below 140 mm Hg. In the new guideline, the target…

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Cardiology in 2013: Like A Wrecking Ball

Perhaps I’m being overdramatic but I think  the best metaphor for the year in cardiology is Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball. The Guidelines Wrecking Ball: Like Hannah Montana guidelines are supposed to be boring and reliable.  But in 2013 the guidelines were more like Miley Cyrus. Like a wrecking ball, the NIH abandoned its long-entrenched and highly influential role in producing…

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Missing High Blood Pressure Guideline Turns Up In JAMA

After  years of delay and many twists and turns, the hypertension guideline originally commissioned by the NIH has now finally been published in JAMA. The evidence-based document contains a major revision of hypertension treatment targets and includes new and somewhat simplified recommendations for drug treatment. The previous US hypertension guideline was published more than a decade ago….

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Dispatch From The Wild Frontier Of The Statin Wars

The long simmering controversy over the relative benefits and harms of statins has heated to a high boil with the release of the new AHA/ACC US guidelines. But nowhere is the battle more intense right now than in Australia where, according to the National Heart Foundation, a TV show may be the cause of 2,000 heart attacks…

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After Long Wait, Updated US Cardiovascular Guidelines Now Emphasize Risk Instead Of Targets

Original illustration by Max Husten

Updated cardiovascular health guidelines were released today by  the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). The guidelines are designed to provide primary care physicians with evidence-based expert guidance on cholesterol, obesity, risk assessment, and healthy lifestyle. The new guidelines reinforce many of the same messages from previous guidelines, but also…

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Observational Study Lends Support to CRT Guidelines

A large observational study published in JAMA suggests that patients with left bundle-branch block (LBBB) and longer QRS duration derive the most benefit from a cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D). The findings appear to support current, but often criticized, guidelines from the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and the Heart Rhythm Society, in which a class I recommendation…

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Hypertension And Cholesterol Guidelines Delayed Again As NHLBI Gets Out Of The Guidelines Business

NHLBI Director Dr. Gary Gibbons

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will no longer issue guidelines, including the much-delayed and much-anticipated hypertension (JNC 8) and cholesterol (ATP IV) guidelines. Instead, the NHLBI will perform systematic evidence reviews that other organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, will use as a resource for their own guidelines….

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