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ABSTRACT: People with valvular heart disease are living longer, with less morbidity, than ever before. Advances in surgical techniques and a better understanding of timing for surgical intervention account for increased rates of survival. Echocardiography remains the gold standard for diagnosis and periodic assessment of patients with valvular heart disease. Generally, patients with stenotic valvular lesions can be monitored clinically until symptoms appear. In contrast, patients with regurgitant valvular lesions require careful echocardiographic monitoring for left ventricular function and may require surgery even if no symptoms are present. Aside from antibiotic prophylaxis, very little medical therapy is available for patients with valvular heart disease; surgery is the treatment for most symptomatic lesions or for lesions causing left ventricular dysfunction even in the absence of symptoms.
Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging - Article
ABSTRACT: Noninvasive cardiac imaging can be used for the diagnostic and prognostic assessment of patients with suspected or known coronary artery disease. It is central to the treatment of patients with myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, or acute coronary syndromes with or without angina. Radionuclide cardiac imaging; echocardiography; and, increasingly, cardiac computed tomography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging techniques play an important role in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease, which is the leading cause of mortality in adults in the United States. Contemporary imaging techniques, with either stress nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging or stress echocardiography, provide a high sensitivity and specificity in the detection and risk assessment of coronary artery disease, and have incremental value over exercise electrocardiography and clinical variables. They also are recommended for patients at intermediate to high pretest likelihood of coronary artery disease based on symptoms and risk factors. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and cardiac computed tomography are newly emerging modalities in the evaluation of patients with coronary artery disease. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging is useful in the assessment of myocardial perfusion and viability, as well as function. It also is considered a first-line tool for the diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. Cardiac computed tomography detects and quantifies coronary calcium and evaluates the lumen and wall of the coronary artery. It is a clinical tool for the detection of subclinical coronary artery disease in select asymptomatic patients with an intermediate Framingham 10-year risk estimate of 10 to 20 percent. In addition, cardiac computed tomography is evolving as a noninvasive tool for the detection and quantification of coronary artery stenosis. Although guidelines can help with treating patients, treatment ultimately should be tailored to each person based on clinical judgment of the a priori risk of a cardiac event, symptoms, and the cardiac risk profile.
Acute Pericarditis - Article
ABSTRACT: Although acute pericarditis is most often associated with viral infection, it may also be caused by many diseases, drugs, invasive cardiothoracic procedures, and chest trauma. Diagnosing acute pericarditis is often a process of exclusion. A history of abrupt-onset chest pain, the presence of a pericardial friction rub, and changes on electrocardiography suggest acute pericarditis, as do PR-segment depression and upwardly concave ST-segment elevation. Although highly specific for pericarditis, the pericardial friction rub is often absent or transient. Auscultation during end expiration with the patient sitting up and leaning forward increases the likelihood of observing this physical finding. Echocardiography is recommended for most patients to confirm the diagnosis and to exclude tamponade. Outpatient management of select patients with acute pericarditis is an option. Complications may include pericardial effusion with tamponade, recurrence, and chronic constrictive pericarditis. Use of colchicine as an adjunct to conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy for acute viral pericarditis may hasten symptom resolution and reduce recurrences.
Diagnostic Evaluation of Dyspnea - Article
ABSTRACT: Dyspnea is a common symptom and, in most cases, can be effectively managed in the office by the family physician. The differential diagnosis is composed of four general categories: cardiac, pulmonary, mixed cardiac or pulmonary, and noncardiac or nonpulmonary. Most cases of dyspnea are due to cardiac or pulmonary disease, which is readily identified with a careful history and physical examination. Chest radiographs, electrocardiograph and screening spirometry are easily performed diagnostic tests that can provide valuable information. In selected cases where the test results are inconclusive or require clarification, complete pulmonary function testing, arterial blood gas measurement, echocardiography and standard exercise treadmill testing or complete cardiopulmonary exercise testing may be useful. A consultation with a pulmonologist or cardiologist may be helpful to guide the selection and interpretation of second-line testing.
ABSTRACT: Ischemic heart disease is one of the most common disorders managed by family physicians. Stratifying patients according to risk is important early in the course of the disease to identify patients who require invasive (percutaneous or surgical) treatment. Physical examination, clinical history, noninvasive tests and angiography are all helpful in determining who will benefit most from medical therapy, percutaneous revascularization or coronary artery bypass surgery. Surgery improves morbidity and mortality in a well-defined group of patients with left ventricular dysfunction and left main coronary artery disease or triple-vessel disease. Patients with proximal left anterior descending artery disease and moderate or severe ischemia benefit from surgery as well. In all other patients, definitive treatment includes aspirin, beta-adrenergic blockers and lipid-lowering agents. Percutaneous revascularization should be considered primarily a palliative measure, because it has never been shown to improve mortality more than medical therapy.
ABSTRACT: Although heart failure is a common clinical syndrome, especially in the elderly, its diagnosis is often missed. A detailed clinical history is crucial and should address not only current signs and symptoms of heart failure but also signs and symptoms that point to a specific cause of the syndrome, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension or valvular heart disease. It is important to determine whether the patient has had a previous cardiac event, in particular a myocardial infarction. The physical examination should include Valsalva's maneuver, a test that is highly specific and sensitive for the detection of left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction in patients with heart failure. An electrocardiograph and a chest radiograph should also be obtained. Two-dimensional echocardiography of the heart helps differentiate systolic from diastolic dysfunction. Coronary angiography is indicated in patients with heart failure and anginal chest pain and should be strongly considered in patients with an electrocardiogram suggestive of ischemia or myocardial infarction.
ABSTRACT: Mitral valve prolapse is a pathologic anatomic and physiologic abnormality of the mitral valve apparatus affecting mitral leaflet motion. "Mitral valve prolapse syndrome" is a term often used to describe a constellation of mitral valve prolapse and associated symptoms or other physical abnormalities such as autonomic dysfunction, palpitations and pectus excavatum. The importance of recognizing that mitral valve prolapse may occur as an isolated disorder or with other coincident findings has led to the use of both terms. Mitral valve prolapse syndrome, which occurs in 3 to 6 percent of Americans, is caused by a systolic billowing of one or both mitral leaflets into the left atrium, with or without mitral regurgitation. It is often discovered during routine cardiac auscultation or when echocardiography is performed for another reason. Most patients with mitral valve prolapse are asymptomatic. Those who have symptoms commonly report chest discomfort, anxiety, fatigue and dyspnea, but whether these are actually due to mitral valve prolapse is not certain. The principal physical finding is a midsystolic click, which frequently is followed by a late systolic murmur. Although echocardiography is the most useful mode for identifying mitral valve prolapse, it is not recommended as a screening tool for mitral valve prolapse in patients who have no systolic click or murmur on careful auscultation. Mitral valve prolapse has a benign prognosis and a complication rate of 2 percent per year. The progression of mitral regurgitation may cause dilation of the left-sided heart chambers. Infective endocarditis is a potential complication. Patients with mitral valve prolapse syndrome who have murmurs and/or thickened redundant leaflets seen on echocardiography should receive antibiotic prophylaxis against endocarditis.
ABSTRACT: The population of adults with congenital heart disease is increasing in North America. Radiologic imaging is critical for the initial assessment and for surveillance in this population. Chest radiography and echocardiography are valuable first-line tools for evaluation. However, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography are often necessary, particularly for assessment of extracardiac anatomy or specific vascular connections or relationships, which may be complex in postoperative patients. Although magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography can provide volumetric data for more comprehensive evaluation of cardiac anatomy and function, magnetic resonance imaging does not require patient exposure to ionizing radiation or nephrotoxic iodinated contrast media. Magnetic resonance imaging also can measure blood flow for quantification of left-to-right shunts, regurgitant fractions, and pressure gradients. Although noninvasive imaging techniques have limitations, they can evaluate most lesions and preclude the need for cardiac catheterization. Noninvasive imaging is particularly useful for serial evaluation of patients with surgically corrected congenital heart disease, because nearly one half of these patients will require two or more surgeries.