The prevalence of heart valve disease is increasing as the population ages. A series of studies have shown current clinical practice is sub-optimal. Some patients are referred for surgery at advanced stages of disease with impaired ventricular function or not even considered for surgery. Valve clinics seek to improve patient outcomes by providing an expert led, patient centred, framework of care designed to provide an accurate diagnosis with active surveillance of valve pathology and timely referral for intervention at guideline directed trigger points. A range of different valve clinic models can be adopted depending on local expertise combining the skill set of cardiologist, physiologist/scientist and nurses. Essential components to all clinics include structured clinical review, echocardiography to identify disease aetiology and severity, patient education and access to both additional diagnostic testing and a multi-disciplinary meeting for complex case review. Recommendations for training in heart valve disease are being developed. There is a growing evidence base for heart valve clinics providing better care with increased adherence to guideline recommendations, more timely referral for surgery and better patient education than conventional care.
Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Denise Parkin and Keith Pearce
Peter H Waddingham, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Jet Van Zalen and Guy Lloyd
Patients with non-ischaemic systolic heart failure (HF) and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) are a heterogenous group with varied morbidity and mortality. Prognostication in this group is challenging. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the significance of the presence of contractile reserve as assessed via stress imaging on mortality and hospitalisation.
A search for studies that non-invasively assessed contractile reserve in patients with DCM or non-ischaemic HF with reduced ejection fraction, stress imaging with follow-up data comparing outcomes. A range of imaging modalities and stressors were included. We examined primary endpoints of mortality and secondary endpoints of combined cardiovascular events including HF progression or hospitalisation. Our analysis compared endpoints in patients with contractile reserve and those without it.
Nine prospective cohort studies were identified describing a total of 787 patients. These studies are methodologically but not statistically heterogenous (I 2 = 31%). Using a random effect model, the presence of contractile reserve was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular events odds ratios of 0.20 (CI 0.11, 0.39) (P < 0.00001) and 0.13 (CI 0.04, 0.40) (P = 0.0004), respectively.
Regardless of stressor and imaging modality and despite the significant methodological heterogeneity within the current data (imaging techniques and parameters), patients with non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy and reduced EF who demonstrate contractile reserve have a lower mortality, and lower events/hospitalisations. The presence of contractile reserve therefore offers a potential positive prognostic indicator when managing these patients.
Nikhil Ahluwalia, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Christopher Munns and John Chambers
Transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) can be used to expedite DC cardioversion (DCCV) in the absence of adequate anticoagulation. There are no guidelines for the management of sedation or general anaesthetic. We performed a survey of NHS echocardiography departments to determine UK practice. Responses were received from 95 (50%) of 189 centres, and TOE-guided DCCV was performed in 81 centres. The numbers were <10 a year in 41 (50%), 10 – 50 in 31 (38%), 50 – 100 in 8 (10%) and >100 in 4 (5%) centres. Sedation for TOE was a usual practice in 67 (80%) centres but often temporally disconnected from DCCV due to logistical reasons. TOE under general anaesthetic was performed in 35 (43%) centres and as the usual method in 16 (20%). The patient was in the supine position with endotracheal intubation in 20 (57%) of centres, but without any form of airway protection while supine in 5 (14%). There is variability in practice across centres in the UK, in part due to limitations to services in most centres but also because of an absence of UK guidelines. The development of national standards may address this and aid in the development of local business cases to extend services.
Richard P Steeds, Richard Wheeler, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Joseph Reiken, Petros Nihoyannopoulos, Roxy Senior, Mark J Monaghan and Vishal Sharma
Stress echocardiography is an established technique for assessing coronary artery disease. It has primarily been used for the diagnosis and assessment of patients presenting with chest pain in whom there is an intermediate probability of coronary artery disease. In addition, it is used for risk stratification and to guide revascularisation in patients with known ischaemic heart disease. Although cardiac computed tomography has recently been recommended in the United Kingdom as the first-line investigation in patients presenting for the first time with atypical or typical angina, stress echocardiography continues to have an important role in the assessment of patients with lesions of uncertain functional significance and patients with known ischaemic heart disease who represent with chest pain. In this guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography, the indications and recommended protocols are outlined for the assessment of ischaemic heart disease by stress echocardiography.
Jet van Zalen, Sveeta Badiani, Lesley M Hart, Andrew J Marshall, Louisa Beale, Gary Brickley, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Nikhil R Patel and Guy W Lloyd
Mortality dramatically rises with the onset of symptoms in patients with severe aortic stenosis (AS). Surgery is indicated when symptoms become apparent or when there is ventricular decompensation. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) in combination with exercise echocardiography can unmask symptoms and provides valuable information regarding contractile reserve. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of reduced exercise tolerance and the parameters predicting adverse cardiovascular events.
Thirty-two patients with asymptomatic severe AS were included in this study. Patients were followed up as part of an enhanced surveillance clinic.
Age was 69 ± 15.7 years, 75% of patients were male. Patients had a raised NT-ProBNP of 301 pg/mL. VO2peak was 19.5 ± 6.2 mL/kg/min. Forty-one percent of patients had a reduced %VO2peak and this predicted unplanned cardiac hospitalisation (P = 0.005). Exercise systolic longitudinal velocity (S′) and age were the strongest independent predictors for VO2peak (R 2 = 0.76; P < 0.0001). Exercise S′ was the strongest independent predictor for NT-ProBNP (R 2 = 0.48; P = 0.001).
A large proportion of patients had a lower than predicted VO2peak. The major determinant of exercise and NT-ProBNP is the ability of the left ventricle (LV) to augment S′ on exercise rather than the severity of aortic valve obstruction or resting structural remodelling of the LV. Reduced exercise tolerance and more adverse remodelling, rather than valve obstruction predicted unplanned hospitalisation. This study demonstrates that for those patients, in whom a watchful waiting is an agreed strategy, a detailed assessment should be undertaken including CPET, exercise echocardiography and biomarkers to ensure those with exercise limitation and risk of decompensation are detected early and treated appropriately.
Daniel X Augustine, Lindsay D Coates-Bradshaw, James Willis, Allan Harkness, Liam Ring, Julia Grapsa, Gerry Coghlan, Nikki Kaye, David Oxborough, Shaun Robinson, Julie Sandoval, Bushra S Rana, Anjana Siva, Petros Nihoyannopoulos, Luke S Howard, Kevin Fox, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Vishal Sharma, Richard P Steeds, Thomas Mathew and the British Society of Echocardiography Education Committee
Pulmonary hypertension is defined as a mean arterial pressure of ≥25 mmHg as confirmed on right heart catheterisation. Traditionally, the pulmonary arterial systolic pressure has been estimated on echo by utilising the simplified Bernoulli equation from the peak tricuspid regurgitant velocity and adding this to an estimate of right atrial pressure. Previous studies have demonstrated a correlation between this estimate of pulmonary arterial systolic pressure and that obtained from invasive measurement across a cohort of patients. However, for an individual patient significant overestimation and underestimation can occur and the levels of agreement between the two is poor. Recent guidance has suggested that echocardiographic assessment of pulmonary hypertension should be limited to determining the probability of pulmonary hypertension being present rather than estimating the pulmonary artery pressure. In those patients in whom the presence of pulmonary hypertension requires confirmation, this should be done with right heart catheterisation when indicated. This guideline protocol from the British Society of Echocardiography aims to outline a practical approach to assessing the probability of pulmonary hypertension using echocardiography and should be used in conjunction with the previously published minimum dataset for a standard transthoracic echocardiogram.