Hot Topics of 2018!

Today, we reviewed some of the hottest and potentially practice changing articles of 2018.  This is by no means an exhaustive list and meant to encourage debate and tickle your fancy for more!


1. Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease?

Bottom line: no net benefit in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

  • ARRIVE: 12000 middle aged (mean age 64), non-diabetic participants with moderate ASCVD risk (>20%) randomized to receive aspirin 100 mg or placebo for primary prevention and followed for 5 years. Found that ASA showed no reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events or mortality, but a 2-fold higher risk of bleeding.
  • ASCEND (aspirin): 15000 middle aged (mean age 63) diabetic participants randomized to aspirin 100 mg vs placebo for primary prevention of CVD and followed for 7 years. Authors found a 12% reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events with ASA but a 29% higher risk of bleeding.
  • ASPREE: 19000 older patients (median age, 74) regardless of other risk factors randomized to ASA 100 mg or placebo and followed for 5 years.  Study found that patients who received ASA had a 14% higher all cause mortality, no decrease in the rate of adverse CVD, and no change in disability-free survival.

2. Omega-3 for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease?

Bottom line: potentially beneficial at really high doses in patients with CV risk factors

  • VITAL: 26000 middle aged (mean age, 67) people without CV disease were randomized to receive fish oil (1g) or placebo and followed for ~5 years. Study found similar rates of primary endpoint (nonfatal MI, stroke, or CV-related death) and all cause mortality in the two groups and a small but significant decrease in the incidence of MI in the fish oil group (1.1% vs 1.5%).
  • ASCEND (fish oil): same study population as ASCEND for aspirin, also looked at using 1g fish oil or placebo and followed patients for ~7 years and found no difference in the risk of major adverse cardiac events.
  • REDUCE-IT: 8000 participants with controlled LDL but elevated triglycerides, randomized to receive 2g of a different fish oil (icosapent ethyl as opposed to the eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid used in the previous two trials) vs placebo and followed for 5 years.  Study found a 25% reduction in risk of major cardiovascular events. Caveat is high dose used at this formulation is very expensive and the study was funded by Amarin Pharma.

3. VTE prophylaxis in hospitalized patients

Bottom line: High rates of inappropriate use of pharmacologic VTE prophylaxis.  Use padua score before prescribing VTE prophylaxis.

  • Grant et al. JAMA Intern Med 2018: retrospective study of 45000 non-ICU patients hospitalized for > 2 days found that prophylaxis (pharmacologic or mechanical) was prescribed for 78% of low-risk patients. 27% of high risk patients with contraindications to pharmacologic prophylaxis still received it, and 22% of high risk patients did not receive prophylaxis.

4. Is there such a thing as too much oxygen?

Bottom line: higher rates of mortality associated with liberal use of oxygen in hospitalized patients.

  • Chu et al. Lancet 2018: Meta-analysis of 25 randomized trials on 16000 hospitalized patients treated with liberal (median FiO2 0.52) vs conservative (median FiO2 0.21) supplemental oxygenation found that at 30 days, the relative risk of death was significantly higher in the liberal oxygenation group.

5. Plavix + ASA for TIA or minor stroke?

Bottom line: Starting DAPT within 12 hours of symptom onset (likely for 30 days) in patients with high risk TIA or minor ischemic stroke reduces 90 day stroke incidence but increases bleeding rates.

  • POINT:  Followed the earlier CHANCE trial in a Chinese population that showed DAPT for 21 days after TIA or minor stroke reduced stroke recurrence at 90 days without a difference in bleeding rates.  POINT randomized ~5000 patients to DAPT for 90 days vs ASA alone in a primarily white patient population and found lower rates of recurrent stroke but higher rates of bleeding. Majority of stroke reduction occurred during the first 7 days after stroke and extended for 30 days whereas the bleeding rates were stable throughout the 90 day follow up period.

6. Steroids in septic shock?

Bottom line: Steroids might be beneficial in high risk patients with refractory septic shock.

  • Rochwerg B et al. Crit Care Med 2018: Meta-analysis of 42 randomized trials with >10000 patients receiving steroids vs none in septic shock found a 2% relative reduction in 30-day mortality with steroids which was not statistically significant, and a similar reduction in mortality at 60 days to 1 year which reached significance (NNT 50). Reversal of shock at 7 days occurred more frequently in the steroid group (NNT 10) but mild-to-moderate adverse events also occurred more frequently in this group (hyperglycemia, hypernatremia, and neuromuscular disease).

7. Is it safe to discharge to home from the ICU?

Bottom line: patients admitted to the ICU for substance-related disorders, seizures, or metabolic derangements may be ok to go home from the ICU.

  • Stelfox et al. JAMA 2018: retrospective cohort study of 6700 adult patients admitted to ICUs in Canada, 14% of whom were discharged to home, found that 30 day hospital readmissions and ED visits and 1 year mortality rates were similar in those discharged from the ICU vs wards.  Those discharged home were typically younger and more likely to have been admitted due to overdose, seizure, substance withdrawal, or metabolic derangements.

8. NS vs LR?

Bottom line: balanced crystalloids (like LR) are associated with fewer adverse events than normal saline in hospitalized patients.

  • SMART: 16000 patients admitted to the ICU were randomized to NS or a balanced crystalloid (majority received LR). Study found that more patients in the NS group reached the composite outcome of major adverse kidney events (death, renal replacement therapy, or doubling of creatinine at discharge) vs those who received balanced crystalloids.
  • SALT-ED: 13000 patients admitted from the ED to non-ICU beds were randomized to NS vs a balanced crystalloid (majority received LR).  Study found similar rates of primary outcome of hospital-free days but a higher rate of adverse kidney events within 30 days than the NS group.

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