Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Circulation on the Run

Mar 16, 2020

Dr Carolyn Lam: Welcome to Circulation on the Run, your weekly podcast summary and backstage pass to the journal and its editors. I'm Dr Carolyn Lam, associate editor from the National Heart Center and Duke National University of Singapore.

Dr Greg Hundley: I'm Dr Greg Hundley from the Pauley Heart Center at VCU Health in Richmond, Virginia.

Dr Carolyn Lam: Greg, this issue features a very important, but rather somber subject and it talks about suicide attempts among LVAD recipients and the real-life data from the Assist-ICD study. Now we have to get to that and it's a very interesting discussion, but first, let's discuss a couple of papers and I'll start.

Now, we know that extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO, for hemodynamic support has been shown to enhance survival for patients with refractory VF or VT out of hospital cardiac arrest. However, what are the effects of prolonged CPR on development of metabolic derangements and neurologically favorable survival in these patients?

Well, this was examined by Dr Bartos from University of Minnesota School of Medicine and colleagues who retrospectively evaluated survival in 160 consecutive adults with refractory VF/VT out of hospital cardiac arrest, treated with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and compared these with 654 adults who had received standard CPR in the amiodarone arm of the ALPS trial.

They found that extracorporeal CPR was associated with improved neurologically favorable survival compared to standard CPR at all CPR durations less than 60 minutes. However, CPR duration remained a critical determinant of survival with a 25% increase in mortality with every 10 minutes of CPR beyond 30 minutes. The progressive metabolic derangement which developed during prolonged CPR was associated with reduced neurologically favorable survival.

Dr Greg Hundley: This mirrors an article that we had maybe about a month ago. What are the clinical implications of this particular study?

Dr Carolyn Lam: Well, healthcare systems utilizing extracorporeal CPR for out of hospital cardiac arrest should optimize pre-hospital and in-hospital processes to minimize time to CPR. Further research is needed to identify strategies to increase CPR efficiency, improve profusion, and decrease the metabolic demands such that the progressive metabolic derangement associated with prolonged CPR can be delayed. This is discussed in an editorial by Dr Sonneville and Schmidt.


Dr Greg Hundley: Very nice, Carolyn. Well, my next article is from Roxana Mehran from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. It's really getting at the issue of high-risk implantation of inter-coronary stents and balancing where is that risk. Is it from bleeding or a complication from the procedure? In this study, they had a total of 10,502 patients and they were included from four registries. 3,507 were identified as having high bleeding risk. The authors aimed to evaluate the long-term adverse events in the high bleeding risk patients undergoing PCI with cobalt chromium, everolimus-eluting stent implantation.

Dr Carolyn Lam: Ah, Greg. Awesome. I'm a fan of Dr Mehran and looks like I'm going to be a fan of this study. What did they find?

Dr Greg Hundley: Well, Carolyn, I love just thinking about coated stents. How about that? Interestingly, those at high bleeding risk had more comorbidities. They had higher lesion complexity and a higher risk of four-year mortality. In fact, four times that of those without those risk factors. The risk of mortality was increased after coronary thrombotic events and after major bleeding. Thus, rather than just being evaluated as a subset of patients in whom the risk of bleeding takes precedence, high bleeding risk patients must be considered a vulnerable population in whom both ischemic as well as bleeding events have a significant impact on their mortality.

Dr Carolyn Lam: Nice, Greg, and you said all of that without repeating everolimus.

Dr Greg Hundley: Coated, remember, coated stents.

Dr Carolyn Lam: These tongue twisters, but hey, my next paper provides novel insights into mechanisms underlying diastolic stiffness in cardiomyocytes and the myocardium. This is from Dr Prosser from Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia and colleagues, who interrogated the role of the microtubule network in the diastolic mechanics of human cardiomyocytes and myocardium. They found that stable detyrosinated microtubules contributed viscous forces during diastolic stretch that increased cardiomyocyte stiffness, particularly in patients with heart failure. Depolymerizing microtubules reduced myocardial stiffness over the range of strains and strain rates associated with early rapid filling in tissue from patients with diastolic dysfunction.

Dr Greg Hundley: Now, how are we going to take this to patients? Are there any translational insights?

Dr Carolyn Lam: Microtubule deep polymerization using colchicine. Colchicine, the stuff we use for gout, this reduced myocardial viscoelasticity with an effect that decreased with increasing strain. Post-hoc subgroup analysis revealed that myocardium from patients with heart failure reduced ejection fraction were more fibrotic and elastic than myocardium from patients with heart failure preserved ejection fraction, which were relatively more viscous. Now, colchicine reduced viscoelasticity in both HFpEF and HFrEF myocardium, but may confer greater benefit in conditions with limited myocardial fibrosis including HFpEF. How's that for translational?

Dr Greg Hundley: Oh, very nice, Carolyn. My next paper comes from Dr Lior Zangi from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Carolyn, in this study, the authors performed transcriptomics sphingolipid and protein analyses to evaluate sphingolipid metabolism and signaling after myocardial infarction. They investigated the effect of altering sphingolipid metabolism through a loss of chemical inhibitors or gain modified MRNA and modified RNA of acid ceramidase function post hypoxia or MI.

Dr Carolyn Lam: Whoa, so what did they find?

Dr Greg Hundley: Well, Carolyn, translationally, the authors found that transiently altering sphingolipid metabolism through acid ceramidase over expression is sufficient and necessary to induce cardio-protection after myocardial infarction. Carolyn, these results highlight a new therapeutic potential of acid ceramidase modified messenger RNA in ischemic heart disease. The basic science is just phenomenal in our journal.

Dr Carolyn Lam: It is, and I loved the way you explained that one, Greg, thanks. Now, there's lots of stuff also in the journal. There's an On My Mind by Dr Ray entitled "LDL Cholesterol Lowering Strategies and Population Health: Time to move to accumulative exposure model." We also have a research letter by Dr Chen describing a novel mouse knock-in strategy utilizing a biotin ligase-based system called biotin identification 2, to identify the cardiac diet proteome in vivo. Well, very interesting stuff, especially in terms of this particular novel strategy.

Dr Greg Hundley: You know, Carolyn, this week the mailbox is just full, so I've got a research letter emphasizing trends in anti-arrhythmic drug use among US patients between 2004 and 2016 and it's from Dr David Frankel from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

I've also got a letter to the editor regarding the association between the use of primary prevention implantable cardio defibrillators in mortality in patients with heart failure, a prospective propensity matched analysis from the Swedish Heart Failure Registry, and the corresponding author is Professor Laszlo Littman from atrium health at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. There is also a response to this letter from Dr Gianluigi Savarese from Karolinska Institute.

Then finally I have a new another EKG challenge, Carolyn, from Dr Miguel Arias. It's a case of new onset, recurrent syncope triggered by fever. Can you get it right from just looking at the EKG?

Well, Carolyn, should we head on to our feature discussion, which this week has a very somber tone?

Dr Carolyn Lam: Let's go.

Left ventricular assist devices or LVADs are really becoming established therapy for end stage heart failure. Now, we who manage such patients realize there are numerous complications and have seen patients who suffer things like anxiety and depression. Interestingly, until today, there was very little data regarding the suicide risk in this population.

I am so pleased to welcome the authors of a very unique and important research letter and they are Vincent Galand as well as Erwan Flécher, both from Ren University Hospital in France, and of course Mark Drazner, our associate editor from UT Southwestern. Vincent, could you start us off by telling us what made you do this important study and what did you find?

Dr Vincent Galand: As you know, in the entire population where a lot of tests have thromboses or infection or ventricular arrhythmias, but there is a lack of data about the clarity of life for the secret distress or suicide in this population. I think it's very important to have information about the population.

At the beginning is the Assist-ICD study is a study focused on arrhythmias in this population, but we recorded data about suicide in this population. What the objective of this study was to analyze the incidents of suicide in this population and to see if there is some predictor of suicides in this population.

Dr Carolyn Lam: What did you find?

Dr Vincent Galand: We find that in centers without LVAD nurse coordinator, the incidents of suicide, was higher. It was not significant, but it was a very big trend. Additionally, we found that patient implanted in destination therapy was a bigger risk of suicide compared to patient granted bridge transportation or bridge to recovery. I think there is two factors of suicide. The first one is a lack of LVAD nurse coordinator and the second one is the implementation and destination therapy.

Dr Carolyn Lam: Yeah, and the really cool thing is that that first factor is something that I suppose can be addressed in future efforts. Mark, could I just ask you to put these findings and this research that are into context for circulation to publish quite a specialty, if you may, topic, why is this so important?


Dr Mark Drazner: DT vans are really a rapidly emerging therapy for patients with advanced heart failure, with almost exponential growth. As these profound technologies are emerging on the scene, it's important, first, to consider all the ramifications for our patients. I think anyone could imagine having an LVAD implant and how that might have profound influence on your life in totality and the impact on the psychological aspects.

While there's been previous studies, there seems to be much avoidance in us really fully understanding the total impact. There have been previous case reports of suicide, but not anything to this magnitude where a systematic series with an estimate of the frequency of as high as 2%, which may not sound high, but, compared to the general population, is increased. We view this as an important look at a critical topic. It's the beginning, there needs to be, as you said, it's a research writer on a case series, but it's a cautionary tale and really is pointing the way for us to proceed with further investigation as potentially important complication related to that. That's essentially why the editorial board found this interesting.

Dr Carolyn Lam: Indeed. Could you just remind us how big this study was? Because this is really big for an LVAD study.

Dr Erwan Flécher: We collected data from 19 university centers in France over 10 years period and we collected a lot of that especially in the fields of arrhythmia. As Vincent said, we thought it was interesting to take the entire picture, so we collected data about quality of life and how do they live and if they had a lot of risk of suicide, if not, and that's how we succeeded to lead this study.

In France, what is important also for you to know is that we do implant a different population of patients than in the US. We do implants in bad patients, in very, very sick patients. Most of them are currently in cardiogenic shock or already under temporary support, ECMO support, IMPELLA support, so it may impact also our results.

That's an interesting point to say and the overall thing is that our paper demonstrated, I think, that we need to take care of these patients not only about the device, not only about the anticoagulation, but also, I mean again, the entire picture. The social part, the quality of life, the way they do live is very important. Probably they should be proposed for psychological follow-up also, or any kind of support for the family. This is important in order to decrease the risk of suicide, in my opinion.

Dr Carolyn Lam: I liked those take-home messages that are very practical, and you kind of read my mind about that question of generalizability. Mark, did you have any reflection on that? The generalizability to the US population?


Dr Mark Drazner: Yeah, that's an important point. I was struck in the paper that 80% of the patients who committed suicide were followed at centers without LVAD coordinators. That number seems high compared to what we're used to seeing. It would be intriguing how widespread that is, where patients who are getting implanted don't have access to a VAD coordinator in your country.

Dr Erwan Flécher: Well, that's an important point also. It is different in France. I mean, we just created...That coordinator did not exist a few years ago in France and I know you are used to work with VAD coordinator in the US, in the UK, even in Netherlands and Germany, but in France it was not like that and all patients were only followed by cardiologist or cardiac surgeons and a few centers started few years ago, five, eight years ago to have a VAD coordinator nurse program. We do believe it is very, very important. That's also plea for a better organization of care in our country.

Dr Mark Drazner: Yeah, that's a thinking point. I didn't realize that that was not widespread practice and relatively new implementation. It'll be interesting to see if the rates subsequently fall with that change in practice. Can I ask, let me follow up in terms of your previous comment. It sounds like a lot of these patients were acute presentations and I wonder also whether they may not have had the full time to grasp exactly what they were getting into, for example. I think we've all been there.

Someone went into cardiogenic shock, ends up crashing and burning and has to go for a durable VAD. A very different complex in someone who has consolidation has been followed in the center for a while, has a chance to come to understand what all that really is. You think that is a major factor in this experience?

Dr Vincent Galand: We think that patients who are granted in case of emergency; it's a bigger risk of surgical distress afterwards the implantation. In fact, that they cannot many information before the implantation, information about the worth life after the LVAD implantation. Of course if they don't the information, they can't be prepared for life after surgery. I think it's a bigger risk, yeah.

Dr Erwan Flécher: That's why maybe in your country or maybe elsewhere, I don't know, maybe the findings would have been different. That's, that's an option we should consider, also. In France, as we told you, we do implants. Most of our patients are implanted in emergency. They're already in ICU. Most of them are already under mechanical ventilation, so they just wake up and they learned that they have been implanted. Not all of them, but most of them, the vast majority of them, so of course they are not so well prepared and that may have an impact on the follow-up. We try to talk to the family; we try to talk to the general practitioner.

Dr Mark Drazner: Of the 10 patients, it's very interesting that patients are being implanted and not knowing they're being implanted in and say waking up with an LVAD. I don't know if you have the granular detail, but do you know, of these 10 patients, how many of them were in that situation?

Dr Vincent Galand: The patients were implanted in cardiogenic shock, so I think it's four patients, but six patients were implanted without cardiogenic shock. They received this kind of information before the LVAD implantation, so it's not a big part of the population, but it's some patients.

Dr Mark Drazner: Could you, just for our readers, it's a little goory, I will admit, but in terms of how these patients attempted or actually committed suicide, just to explain in terms of, it was oftentimes related to a mechanism through the LVAD. If you could just summarize that and how they tried to commit suicide or commit suicide.

Dr Vincent Galand: That was the case. The suicide was with drive line disconnection or drive line section. In two patients, it was drug suicides, but in most of the patients the drive line is the main way for suicide.

Dr Mark Drazner: It's interesting that the mechanism that these patients tried to commit suicide was directly through the LVAD.

Dr Erwan Flécher: Of course it's the easiest way to terminate their life and they just cut off it. Just don't plug the battery and they are alone and that was the main way to practice their suicide.

Dr Mark Drazner: I know we don't have the initial report, we probably don't have all those, but in terms of you postulating in the paper why patients might get to the state where they would try or commit suicide with the LVAD. If you just want to throw out some of your hypotheses so that our listeners can hear those as well.

Dr Erwan Flécher: I've got in mind two or three points in order to improve our results. First of all, we should implant maybe earlier patients in France in order to have a better way to prepare and to invest the VAD implantation.

The second point would be to have a better organization of care and I think we should develop that VAD nurse coordinators program like in many countries. We still have some but not in all the hospitals implanting that.

The third point would be also to get the better LVADs. I mean, probably the drive line in sections, batteries, the controller, this of course it's much better than it was 10 years ago. There is no noise. It's less big than it was, but still, I think if we can improve the device itself, I think we may observe maybe the decrease in the risk of a system in society, especially the drive line, if there is no drive line, the quality of life should be better. We may suggest that the risk of suicide would decrease.

Dr Carolyn Lam: A very somber topic, but those last take home messages, leaving hope for improvement, were really important. Thank you everyone for sharing with us today, and thank you, audience, for joining us today.


Dr Greg Hundley: This program is copyright, the American Heart Association 2020.