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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.
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.
ABSTRACT: Pulmonary arterial hypertension is defined as a mean pulmonary arterial pressure greater than 25 mm Hg at rest or 30 mm Hg during physical activity. Pulmonary arterial hypertension is classified into subgroups, including idiopathic, heritable, and pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with other conditions. A detailed history, thorough physical examination, and most importantly, a high index of suspicion are essential to diagnosis. Evaluation includes echocardiography and exclusion of other causes of symptoms. Targeted laboratory testing can help identify the subgroup of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Right heart catheterization is required to confirm the diagnosis. Standard treatment options include oral anticoagulation, diuretics, oxygen supplementation, and for a small percentage of patients, calcium channel blockers. Newer treatments include prostacyclin analogues, endothelin receptor antagonists, and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. Combination therapy has been shown to improve pulmonary arterial pressure, but more research is needed. Interventional procedures for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension include balloon atrial septostomy and lung transplantation.
ABSTRACT: Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is an uncommon autosomal dominant disease that occurs in approximately one in 5,000 to 8,000 persons. This multisystem disorder can affect the nose, skin, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, liver, and brain. Epistaxis is the most common presenting problem, occurring in 90 percent of affected patients. Approximately 15 to 30 percent of patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia will have an arteriovenous malformation in the lungs and more than 10 percent will have one in the brain. The symptoms of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia are often unrecognized. Many patients, even those with affected family members, may go undiagnosed. Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is a clinical diagnosis that is based on the presence of three of four criteria (i.e., epistaxis, telangiectasias, visceral arteriovenous malformations, or family history of the disease). Screening and treatment recommendations have been created in an attempt to limit the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease. Patients with confirmed or suspected hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia should be screened for brain and lung arteriovenous malformations using magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and contrast echocardiography. Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations can be treated with embolization. Patients with a history of pulmonary arteriovenous malformations or those who have not been screened should use antibiotic prophylaxis before dental treatment, endoscopy, or other procedures that could cause bacteremia because of the risk of paradoxical brain embolism or infection.
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.
Valve Disease and Diet Pills-Where Do We Stand? - Editorials