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What’s New in: Heart Care

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading global cause of death, with coronary artery disease (CAD) being the most common type in both men and women. Since heart disease affects so many people, discovering new and better methods of diagnosis is important. The LeBauer-Brodie Center for Cardiovascular Research and Education has been exploring many different new diagnostic and treatment methods.

New methods to diagnose cardiovascular disease have focused on noninvasive techniques that can cut back the need for catheterization, such as CT imaging with FFR. Fractional flow reserve computer tomography (FFRct) uses imaging and software to measure flow rates in different segments of the heart. Cone Health cardiologist Katarina Nelson, MD, will be involved in another upcoming study called the PRECISE Protocol: Prospective Randomized Trial of the Optimal Evaluation of Cardiac Symptoms and Revascularization. This study will compare traditional diagnostic methods for CAD with an evaluation strategy that includes coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) and FFRct.

Cone Health is also evaluating a technique using an artificial intelligence software called Cardiac Phase Space Tomography Analysis. This involves no risk, can be done in less than 10 minutes, and requires no radiation or stress testing. This may allow for detection of coronary heart disease and may ultimately allow for noninvasive evaluation of other cardiac conditions. While early, the technology looks promising.

The LeBauer-Brodie Center and the Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center are currently participating in a clinical trial to treat high cholesterol in high-risk patients who aren’t able to take or are not controlled on statins. This study will test whether injecting a protein every 6 months will significantly lower cholesterol. The hope is that these injections will reduce a person’s cholesterol by half and reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event.

Physician Background:

Thomas Stuckey, MD, is a cardiologist, a co-founder and medical director of the LeBauer-Brodie Center for Cardiovascular Research and Education, Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center, and Medical Director of Quality, Moses Cone Hospital.  He served as medical director of the cardiac catheterization laboratories at Cone Health from 1991 to 2004. Stuckey is a 1979 medical school graduate of Ohio State University.  He completed his residency in internal medicine at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a fellowship in cardiology at University of Virginia Medical Center.  He holds an appointment at UNC School of Medicine as a clinical professor of medicine.