American Heart Association Launches Free-Access Online Journal

“We envision JAHA as a forum for high-quality original articles that cover the full range of cardiovascular science, including basic science, translational science, clinical trials, and epidemiological and outcomes research,” said Joseph A. Vita, M.D., JAHA editor in chief.

The American Heart Association has launched an online-only open-access version of the Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease (JAHA) — packed with free peer-reviewed research on heart disease and stroke.

“We envision JAHA as a forum for high-quality original articles that cover the full range of cardiovascular science, including basic science, translational science, clinical trials, and epidemiological and outcomes research,” said Joseph A. Vita, M.D., JAHA editor in chief.

As with the association’s 11 print journals, articles will undergo rigorous peer review prior to publication. The online format won’t have limits on the length of articles, the number of photos and illustrations, or the use of color or video. Thus, “authors will be able to present all aspects of their work,” Vita said.

Highlights of the first science published in the new journal include:

Severity of stroke predicts death risk

People with strokes caused by the most severe blockages were more than 12 times likely to die within 30 days of their stroke than people with the least severe strokes as categorized by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS).

The NIHSS ranks stroke severity on a 0-42 scale, with 0-7 being the least severe and 22-42 the most severe.

Thirty-day death rates were:

  • 4.2 percent for mild stroke (0-7)
  • 13.9 percent for moderate stroke (8-13)
  • 31.6 percent for severe stroke (14-21)
  • 53.5 percent for extremely severe stroke (22-42)

Researchers collected data from 33,102 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries treated at 404 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke hospitals between April 2003 and December 2006. Average age was 79, and 58 percent were women. Get With The Guidelines-Stroke is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that helps health care providers to consistently treat stroke patients according to the most up-to-date evidence-based guidelines.

No matter what other clinical information is available, stroke severity is a very strong predictor of death risk after stroke, the researchers said. Categorizing patients by risk levels can better target treatments and resources.

More evidence-based treatments mean better heart failure survival

Chance of survival for heart failure patients with weakened pumping ability improves if they use at least four or five of the treatments suggested in American Heart Association guidelines, according to new research.

The combination of several key guideline-recommended therapies for heart failure provided up to an 81 to 90 percent improvement in the odds of survival over two years.

In an analysis of data from the large prospective study IMPROVE HF, researchers evaluated how much each treatment contributes to two-year survival ― individually and in addition to other treatments.

Individually, the greatest improvement in survival was gained by treatment with beta-blockers and cardiac resynchronization therapy (a specialized pacemaker that helps coordinate the pumping of the right and left chambers of the heart). Significant gains were also achieved with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers, drugs to reduce blood clotting, implantable cardioverter/defibrillators, and heart failure education.

The use of aldosterone antagonists didn’t increase two-year survival, a finding which requires further study according to the authors.

In combination, every added treatment boosted survival until patients were taking four to five treatments, with benefits potentially leveling off (but not diminishing) with additional treatments.

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