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Journal: Giornale italiano di cardiologia (2006)

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Short-coupled variant of torsade de pointes (TdP) is an uncommon variant of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with unknown etiology. It is initiated by a closely coupled premature ventricular complex (<300 ms) in the absence of QT prolongation and structural heart disease. Verapamil seems to be the only drug able to suppress the arrhythmia but, as it does not reduce the risk of sudden death, implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is recommended. We describe the case of a 46-year-old woman referred to our Emergency Department because of palpitations. The initial ECG showed a non-sustained polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with a borderline QTc interval (450 ms). After admission, the patient experienced an episode of TdP that started after short-coupling interval (280 ms) between the last sinus beat and the ventricular premature beat (VPB). DC-shock restored sinus rhythm. Physical examination, exercise testing, echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance were all normal, and she had no family history of sudden cardiac death. Baseline ECG showed sinus rhythm and unifocal VPBs with the same morphology of the VPB of TdP. The patient received an ICD and was treated medically with verapamil. She was discharged from the hospital on oral therapy with verapamil (240 mg/day), and she was free of recurrence 12 months later when an electrical storm occurred. The verapamil dose was therefore increased to 480 mg/day. Unifocal VPBs disappeared from her body surface ECG, and the subsequent 3-year follow-up was uneventful.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Cardiac electrophysiology, Long QT syndrome, QT interval, Ventricular tachycardia, Ventricular fibrillation, Premature ventricular contraction

28

The natural history of heart failure (HF) is characterized by a progressive decline in functional capacity, punctuated by acute heart destabilization episodes which contribute to a spiraling worsening course. Advanced HF affects one in four patients who are referred to the hospital for the syndrome and has an estimated yearly incidence of 12 000 new cases in Italy. Life expectancy is very limited, and in general less than 50% of advanced HF patients are alive at 1-2 years. Advanced HF patients show a high, not modifiable mortality, severe symptoms and impaired quality of life. Treatment goals should focus on the improvement of symptoms and quality of life, the aims of palliative care. Palliative consultations during hospital admissions reduce the number of interventions and procedures in the last stages of life, the length of stay in the intensive care unit and general ward. HF patients who receive home palliative care are more likely to die at home, in accordance with their expressed will. The research project RF-MAR-2007-67955 aims to analyze, through a prospective observational registry, the palliative care needs of HF patients in Italy, to answer the gaps in knowledge on symptom changes during the terminal stages of the disease, on the quality of communication between healthcare professionals, patients and their families and caregivers' needs.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Disease, Patient, Life expectancy, Symptomatic treatment, Hospice, Terminal sedation

28

Ejection fraction (EF) is the most widely used instrumental parameter in clinical cardiology for the evaluation of left ventricular systolic function and prognostic stratification of various cardiac diseases, including ischemic heart disease and heart failure. EF has some advantages but also many limitations, which may favor an incorrect use of this parameter. Moreover, the different cardiac imaging techniques available for EF calculation can be an additional source of errors and inaccuracies. This article will review in detail the pathophysiological features and intrinsic limitations of EF, with the aim to clarify how to properly use this parameter.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart failure, Ejection fraction, Heart, Echocardiography, Heart disease, Ischaemic heart disease

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On March 11, 2020, just after 2 months from the first cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China, the Director-General of the World Health Organization stated that COVID-19 has to be considered as a pandemic. Italian doctors were the first protagonists, after the Chinese ones, in the management of this disease. Clinical observations showed that, in addition to the respiratory infection, a systemic inflammatory response occurs, which leads to coagulation disorders and consequent venous thromboembolism as well as other thrombotic complications. We here review the available literature on this issue to better understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of coagulopathy useful to draw future clinical and therapeutic conclusions.

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Given the high prevalence of preexisting cardiovascular diseases and the increased incidence of adverse cardiovascular events in patients hospitalized for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the identification of optimal antithrombotic approaches in terms of risk/benefit ratio and outcome improvement appears crucial in this setting. In the present position paper we collected current evidence from the literature to provide practical recommendations on the management of antithrombotic therapies (antiplatelet and anticoagulant) in various clinical contexts prevalent during the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: in-home management of oral anticoagulant therapy; interactions between drugs used in the SARS-CoV-2 infection and antithrombotic agents; in-hospital management of antithrombotic therapies; diagnosis, risk stratification and treatment of in-hospital thrombotic complications.

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During the early phase of the lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarm on the impact on cardiology admissions for cardiac causes, particularly in the field of acute coronary syndromes (ACS), has emerged. In order to evaluate this trend, we analyzed the literature data published since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, in addition to our intensive cardiac care unit (ICCU) experience. This analysis showed (i) a reduction of the overall ICCU admissions up to 50%; (ii) a 40-50% reduction of ACS admissions, greater for non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) than for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI); (iii) a reduction greater than 50% of coronary angiography and percutaneous coronary angioplasty; (iv) a higher time delay of STEMI; and (v) a higher number of ICCU admissions for non-primarily cardiac problems. In conclusion, the lockdown imposed due to the spread of COVID-19 infection has led to a change in the number and type of cardiology admissions. It seems therefore necessary that patients, especially for time-dependent diseases such as ACS, continue to refer to hospital care; that contemporary standard of care for acute cardiac disease should be guaranteed, and that intensivist cardiologists acquire specific skills for the treatment of patients with clinical conditions normally treated by other specialists.

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Italy, and all the world, has recently faced the arduous battle against the spread of a new coronavirus: SARS-CoV-2. This unexpected pandemic dramatically upended all areas of life, leading to a profound change in priorities, both in the medical as well as the social-economic field; and sports is no exception. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic also walloped the world of sports. Every aspect of sports has been affected, leading professional and amateur leagues to stop their activities, in order to limit the spread of the virus, a painful but mandatory choice. Even the most popular sports in the world had to deal with the massive global threat of SARS-CoV-2. The Italian Sports Medical Federation (FMSI) has recently drawn up a protocol to be implemented when teams will receive from the authorities the permission to return to competitive activities. The purpose of this paper is to deepen the FMSI indications and allow wider dissemination and understanding.

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Several studies suggested that the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection may be associated with a hypercoagulable state and increased risk for venous thromboembolism but the incidence of thrombotic complications in the late phase of the disease is currently unknown. The present article describes three cases of patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia and late occurrence of pulmonary embolism. Case 1: a 57-year-old man diagnosed with pulmonary embolism and type B aortic dissection after 12 days from SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. Laboratory panel at the time of pulmonary embolism showed no signs of ongoing inflammation but only an elevated D-dimer. Case 2: a 76-year-old man with a diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia followed by pulmonary embolism 20 days later, high-resolution computed tomography on that time showed a partial resolution of crazy paving consolidation. Case 3: a 77-year-old man with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia who developed a venous thromboembolic event despite thromboprophylaxis with low molecular weight heparin. Also in this patients no markers of inflammation were present at the time of complication.The present cases raise the possibility that in SARS-CoV-2 infection the hypercoagulable state may persist over the active inflammation phase and cytokine storm. These findings suggest a role for medium-long term therapeutic anticoagulation started at the time of SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia diagnosis.

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Clinical guidelines, while representing an objective reference to perform appropriate treatment choices, contain grey zones, where recommendations are not supported by solid evidence. In a conference held in Bergamo in October 2018, an attempt was made to highlight some of the main gray zones in Cardiology and, through a comparison between experts, to draw shared conclusions that can illuminate our clinical practice. This manuscript contains the statements of the symposium concerning the controversies regarding dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT). The manuscript represents the organization of the meeting, with an initial review of current guidelines on this topic, followed by an expert presentation of pros (white) and cons (black) related to the identified “gaps of evidence”. For every issue is then reported the response derived from the votes of the experts and the public, the discussion and, finally, the highlights, which are intended as practical “take home messages” to be used in everyday clinical practice. The first topic concerns the utility of scores to shorten the duration of DAPT in patients at high bleeding risk. The second issue examines the appropriateness of the level of evidence to prolong DAPT beyond 1 year in patients at high ischemic risk. The last “gap in evidence” concerns the possibility of adopting the single antiplatelet therapy plus an anticoagulant vs the triple therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation and acute coronary syndrome. The work has also been implemented with evidences deriving from important randomized studies published after the date of the Conference.

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The evaluation and application of antithrombotic strategies able to reduce total and cardiovascular mortality in patients with documented vascular disease have an important clinical and epidemiological role and may also impact on health costs. In the COMPASS trial, the association of rivaroxaban at the dose of 2.5 mg twice daily with aspirin in a population with stable vascular disease has significantly reduced the incidence of cardiovascular events compared to the standard regimen of aspirin alone; this reduction translated into greater cardiovascular and total survival. Such mortality benefit was not observed in previous randomized trials that in this setting of patients had previously evaluated antiplatelet strategies alternative to aspirin (with clopidogrel) or had compared a dual antiplatelet therapy with aspirin plus clopidogrel, vorapaxar, or ticagrelor vs a single antiplatelet treatment with aspirin. The results of the COMPASS trial strengthen the role of antithrombotic strategies that, beside the platelet phase, also involve the coagulative phase with the aim at preventing the recurrence of cardiovascular, atherothrombotic events at the site of polyvascular beds, with a degree of benefit proportional to the baseline risk of the patient.