89 e-Letters

published between 2017 and 2020

  • Problems with the clinical director role

    I read with interest the super article by Chris Steadman regarding being a clinical director in the NHS. I would add to this article that a particular problem has now become grossly apparent with taking on such a role which is the amount of pension tax that many will find they have to pay in taking such a role on. Previously, leadership and management roles have often attracted a rise in pensionable salary, which was a clear incentive to take them - as per the article, they clearly result in alot of work to the individual and so should be rewarded for this. However with the pension taper which started in 2016 and a low annual allowance, this creates a major problem, with many stories of doctors taking on such roles and receiving a large tax bill as result. How big a bill this may or may not be will depend on the personal circumstances of the individual and the amount of extra pensionable salary the individual trust is offering. For example, under current rules, a £10,000 increase in pensionable pay would result in me doing such a job at a big financial loss in my first year of doing it! Unless the UK government change the pension tax rules, it has created major disincentive for doctors to take on such roles.



    Kenan YALTA, MD a
    Muhammet GURDOGAN, MD a
    Orkide PALABIYIK, MD b

    a,Trakya University, Cardiology Department, Edirne, TURKEY
    b Trakya University, Department of Biophysics, Edirne, TURKEY
    Corresponding Author: Kenan YALTA Trakya University, Cardiology Department, Edirne, TURKEY
    Email- kyalta@gmail.com, akenanyalta@trakya.edu.tr Phone: 00905056579856

    Left ventricular apical aneurysm (LVAA) formation in the setting of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) usually appears to be associated with a significant mid-ventricular obstruction, and is potentially associated with adverse cardiovascular events (1). In their recently published article (1), Ramchand J et al have suggested LVAA as a major risk marker in this setting. Though we fully agree with the authors on this point, we would like to draw attention to certain other conditions including transient LV apical ballooning that might strongly mimick LVAA leading to a potential misdiagnosis in patients with HCM:
    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC) presenting with a transient apical ballooning pattern has been recently suggested to have a pure mechanical basis in certain patients with pre-existing structural heart diseas...

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  • A minor correction to the variant nomenclature

    As a physician dealing with patients with confirmed or suspected Fabry disease, I've read with great interest this editorial. This is a very thought-provoking article, which introduces the process of reclassification of a prevalent variant in the GLA gene associated with the cardiac variant of Fabry disease. I would like to make only a minor correction regarding the nomenclature of the variant mentioned. As written in the article of Valtola et al, the referred variant is c.427G> A and not c.472G> A¹ (transcript NM_000169.2).

    1. Valtola K, Nino-Quintero J, Hedman M, et al. Cardiomyopathy associated with the Ala143Thr variant of the α-galactosidase A gene. Heart 2020;:heartjnl-2019-315933. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2019-315933



    Kenan YALTA, MD
    Muhammet GURDOGAN, MD
    Gokay TAYLAN, MD

    a,Trakya University, Cardiology Department, Edirne, TURKEY

    Corresponding Author: Kenan YALTA Trakya University, Cardiology Department, Edirne, TURKEY
    Email- kyalta@gmail.com, akenanyalta@trakya.edu.tr Phone: 00905056579856

    In clinical practice, coronary artery aneurysms (CAAs) in the setting of Kawasaki disease (KD) mostly evolve in the earlier stages, and generally reach their maximum size by 6 weeks after disease onset (1). Importantly, they are mostly encountered in untreated cases, and are strongly associated with the disease severity (and in particular; the degree of acute necrotizing vasculitis) (1). In their recently published enlightening report (2), Brogan P have discussed long-term management of KD patients with a particular emphasis on CAAs in this setting (2). However, we would like to comment on a specific phenomenon, namely ‘late CAA’ formation that might emerge even several months to years after the index KD:
    Firstly, late CAAs were previously defined as new CAAs emerging at the same location of a previously regressed CAA, and were attributed to hemodynamic and residual pathological abnormalities along the arterial wal...

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  • Response to letter to the editor

    We thank Dr Althouse for his letter and the interests in our article and for taking time to send us his comments. We appreciate it very much.

    In Figure 1, in scenario C, we incorporated the findings of “equivalence” in cases of equivalence trials. We stated in the article under the section of “Equivalence trials versus non-inferiority trials” that, in equivalence trials, the significance level is set as a two-sided p value of 0.05. We agree that, in non-inferiority trials, a one-sided p value of 0.025 is usually set as the significant level, although in some non-inferiority trials in cardiology, a significance level of one-sided p value of 0.05 was used. This is also mentioned under the same section. We have considered using a separate figure in the submission. However, we decided to submit a single figure as the separate figure incorporating only equivalence trials may be too simple and not the focus of the discussion.

    In scenario E, the lower limit of the confidence intervals is below 1 and the upper limit of the confidence interval is above the non-inferior margin. Therefore, the null hypothesis that the new treatment is inferior to standard treatment cannot be rejected and the alternative hypothesis that the new treatment is non-inferior to standard treatment cannot be accepted. We agree that the interpretation is more correctly stated as “New treatment not non-inferior to standard treatment”. Alternatively, as Dr Althouse suggested “New treatment...

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  • Correction on Figure 1

    I submit this comment on the recent publication by Leung et al entitled “Non-inferiority trials in cardiology: what clinicians need to know” (1) which I believe has a slight error that merits correction.

    On Figure 1 in the original publication, the label says that Result E shows “New treatment inferior” but that is not a correct interpretation. The text in the footnote (“the upper bound of the 95% CI exceeds the predetermined non-inferior margin. Therefore, the new treatment is inferior to standard treatment”) is also incorrect. The data shown in Result E are not sufficient to declare a non-inferiority hypothesis met (the upper limit of the CI for relative risk is above the non-inferiority margin) but nor are they sufficient to declare the new treatment inferior (the lower limit of the CI for relative risk is below the null value). Therefore, the correct label for Result E is “New treatment neither inferior nor non-inferior.” The new treatment would only be declared inferior to the standard treatment in cases F and G (where the lower limit of the 95% CI for relative risk is above the null).


    1. Leung JT, Barnes SL, Lo ST, Leung DY. Non-inferiority trials in cardiology: what clinicians need to know. Heart 2019 [epub ahead of print]

  • Lifestyle modifications and their relationship with myocardial stiffness, atrial stiffness and atrial fibrosis

    Some of the risk factors for atrial fibrillation(AF) mentioned by the authors, such as hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnoea, older age, and lack of exercise, respectively(1), are also risk factors for myocardial stiffness(2)(3)(4)(5)(6). Myocardial stiffness, in turn, is a risk factor for atrial remodeling in the canine heart(7), and a parameter associated with paroxysmal AF in structurally normal human hearts(8). What is more, exercise has been shown to be capable of reversing myocardial stiffness, both in animals(9), and in human subjects(10).
    In the more specific context of left atrial stiffness, obesity has emerged as a risk factor for left atrial stiffness(11)(12). Among patients with obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, respectively, a link has been hypothesised between the twin entities of left ventricular stiffness and depressed atrial compliance, on the one hand, and the development of myocardial fibrosis.(12) . The authors of the latter hypothesis proposed that obesity, hypertension and diabetes generated a systemic proinflammatory state which culminated in the emergence of the coexistence of stiff cardiomyocytes and interstitial fibrosis(12). Furthermore, in a study where the assumption was made that the existence of low voltage areas was a surrogate for left atrial fibrosis, the presence of a left atrial low voltage burden exceeding 10% was shown to be associated with significantly(p < 0.0001) higher left atrial stiffness index((LASI)(13)....

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  • Biomarkers to enhance prognosis assessment in transcatheter aortic valve replacement: usefulness of CA125

    We have read with interest the review published by Goldsweig et al of predictors of readmission after transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) (1). We agree that identifying factors linked with a higher rate of readmission is of utmost importance. In this review, several clinical and procedural factors have been identified as predictors of adverse events after TAVR. However, the potential value of biomarkers for risk stratification in this setting has also been suggested in the literature. Several biomarkers have been tested for prognostic purposes; among them, we would like to highlight the role of Carbohydrate Antigen 125 (CA125). CA125 is a glycoprotein released by the mesothelial cells in response to increased hydrostatic pressures and/or inflammatory stimuli (2). Their levels are elevated in up to two-thirds of decompensated patients and correlated to parameters of clinical and echocardiographic congestion including pulmonary artery and right atrial pressures. Interestingly, its changes after discharge are strongly associated with the risk of adverse clinical events (2). In the setting of TAVR, baseline (pre-implant) CA125 levels were independent predictors of death and MACE (death, myocardial infarction, stroke, and readmission), even after adjusting for well-established prognostic factors, in an observational study (3). Interestingly, increases of CA125 at any time in the follow-up after TAVR were independently related to events, suggesting its usefulness not...

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  • Number needed to treat to harm

    This is a really important and interesting article. I would like to congratulate the authors with their work.

    I do have one question with regard to figure 3B. The numbers needed to treat to harm (NNTH) in this table seem to have counterintuitive values, for instance see the value from the direct thrombin inhibitor, which is listed as 153, with a corresponding OR of harm of 2.63. This NNTH value is more or less equal to that of aspirin, which has a listed NNTH of 155, however, its corresponding OR for harm is much lower, namely 1.07. Similarly, the point estimate of the NNTH for standard dose Xa is 270 which is higher than that listed for low dose Xa inhibitor (187), while the respective ORs for harm show that standard-dose Xa inhibitor has a higher odds for harm. I realize that there is a possible logical explanation for these counterintuitive results, namely that the base rates of the placebo/observation condition vary significantly, but that would not be expected. Could the authors elaborate on this? Thank you very much in advance.

  • The number needed from a non-significant result

    This is our response to a concern raised by a reader regarding the estimates and credible intervals of those numbers needed to treat to harm presented in our article titled “Extended treatment of venous thromboembolism: a systematic review and network meta-analysis.”

    First, we confirm that data published in the Journal are valid and correct.

    We also like to thank the reader to point it out as a number needed (either for benefit or harm) derived from an effect estimate that crosses the unity has been intuitively challenging to visualize (Hutton JL. Br J Haematol. 2009;146:27-30). Because it is given by the reciprocal of the absolute risk difference, a number needed can never include zero but straddles plus and minus infinity ∞ when the absolute risk difference include zero. By the frequentist approach based on inverting the confidence interval of the absolute risk difference, it represents that the number needed encompasses two disjoint regions: one from upper confidence interval to plus ∞ and the other from lower confidence interval to minus ∞ (Altman DG. BMJ. 1998;317:1309-12). Some had argued that for those non-significant results, a number needed should be presented as a single number without its confidence interval as it includes the possibility of no benefit or harm (McQuay HJ. Ann Intern Med. 1997;126:712-20). Other had suggested that it should not be reported when being non-significant (McAlister FA. CMAJ. 2008;179:549-53).

    Our analyses with t...

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