Experts from Penn's School of Medicine to present at ACC Annual Scientific Session

March 30, 2008

Penn experts will present research findings that could come to define new standards of cardiovascular diagnostics and care at this weekend's conference of the American College of Cardiology, the foremost professional society representing heart specialists throughout the world. These experts will gather beginning this weekend in Chicago to present and discuss the latest advances in cardiovascular medicine, science and education.

To arrange interviews with any of these presenters or other Penn physicians who will be in attendance, please call 215-200-2313, or email holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu. All research results are embargoed until the time they are presented during the conference.

The Effect of Darapladib on Plasma Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2 Activity and Cardiovascular Biomarkers in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease or Risk Equivalent

Emile R. Mohler, MD, Director of Vascular Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine
10 a.m., Sunday, March 30

Dr. Mohler will present results of a trial that may herald a new class of medications to prevent heart attack and stroke. Researchers at Penn and several other sites around the world studied the safety and efficacy of the drug darapladib (manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline) on Lp-PLA, an enzyme associated with inflammatory activity and increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

The drug was tested among patients already taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug. After 12 weeks on a daily regimen of 160 mg of darapladib, blood tests revealed a decrease in two important circulating biomarkers, suggesting a possible reduction in systemic inflammatory burden.

While the drug doesn't necessarily act to shrink plaque, Mohler says the research suggests that darapladib may reduce plaque inflammation and therefore lower rates of clot formation and heart attacks among patients with coronary heart disease.

These findings will be published in an upcoming issue of JACC, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.




Under-Referral of Women for Atrial Fibrillation Ablation: Can This Be Explained by Gender Differences in Outcome?

Andrea M. Russo, MD, Electrophysiology Laboratory Director and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
10 a.m., Sunday, March 30

Dr. Russo and her colleagues from the division of cardiovascular medicine at Penn will present research on disparities in treatment of women suffering atrial fibrillation, one of the most common abnormal heart rhythms.

Although women represent more than half of patients with this serious rhythm problem, they are less likely to be referred for atrial fibrillation ablation - a therapy that uses radiofrequency energy to cauterize the heart tissue around each pulmonary vein to keep abnormal electrical signals from reaching the rest of the heart and triggering the faulty rhythm - than men.

Russo studied 1,165 women and men who underwent ablation at Penn and found that both groups had similar arrhythmia control at 24 months after the procedure (84 percent of women and 89 percent of men), suggesting that more women should be referred for ablation therapy.




Women Face Higher Risk for Decline in Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction Following Orthotopic Liver Transplant

James N. Kirkpatrick, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
10 a.m., Tuesday, April 1

Chronic liver disease patients often have low systemic vascular resistance that causes low blood pressure before liver transplant, but after receiving a new liver, they may suffer post-operative heart problems that leave the left ventricle unable to pump out an adequate amount of blood. This situation puts patients at a greater risk of organ failure and death.

Dr. Kirkpatrick and his colleagues studied 80 patients who received an orthotopic liver transplant - the procedure in which the patient's native liver is removed and replaced with a donor organ in the same spot - to determine who would be more likely to suffer post-transplant complications of the left ventricle.

Researchers found that female patients were more likely to exhibit a left ventricular ejection fraction depression following transplant, with 36.7 percent of women suffering the complication, compared to 16 percent of men.

Kirkpatrick believes that careful pre-operative ventricular assessment may help identify patients who could benefit from careful monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate and volume status, and, possibly, serial echocardiograms. Some of these patients may benefit from aggressive treatment with medications like ACE-inhibitors and beta blockers. The Penn researchers plan to test newer echocardiographic techniques before and after transplant to refine ways to identify these patients.
-end-
PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals -- its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation's "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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