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Task Force Calls for Including Heart Response in Bioterrorism Plans
The influenza-heart connection is not special to any one country
Recommendations published simultaneously in Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology March 27 call for incorporation of a cardiovascular disease response into plans for emerging infections and bioterrorism events.
The recommendations were issued by a joint task force, chaired by Mohammad Madjid, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine in the Office of Biotechnology at The University of Texas Health Science Center.
The joint task force of the American College of Cardiology Foundation, the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on emerging infectious diseases and biological terrorism threats and the implications of these on cardiovascular prevention and treatment.
The report emphasized the need for multidisciplinary translational research and public health surveillance for monitoring incidence and trends of cardiovascular diseases. The task force also made recommendations to hospitals and health care providers, such as preparing catheterization laboratories and coronary- and intensive-care units to be able to provide care for patients infected with contagious diseases.
Making the connections between infectious diseases and heart disease is something that Madjid has been doing for the last seven years. As a result of studies undertaken at the UT Health Science Center and confirmed by studies from other centers, the AHA changed its guidelines in 2006 to recommend the flu vaccine to heart patients as a secondary preventive measure.
Madjid and S. Ward Casscells, M.D., then vice president for biotechnology, first made a breakthrough with this research in 2000, when they showed that flu shots reduced the risk for heart disease. Now Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Casscells is also on leave as the John Edward Tyson Distinguished Professor in Cardiology.
Madjid did further research on the flu-heart attack trigger link by reviewing more than 30,000 autopsies from St. Petersburg, Russia. Results reported in the April 18 issue of the European Heart Journal showed that flu can trigger heart attacks that result in death.
“We used autopsies from Russia because Russia has higher than a 50 percent autopsy rate, versus a less than 5 percent autopsy rate from the United States. This makes our study more generalizable to the population. The influenza-heart connection is not special to any one country,” Madjid said.
The joint task force was one of four formed during an August 2004 conference in Bethesda, Md.
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