News in brief: Cardiologist pleads guilty to possessing child abuse material; Golf club decision over heart hospital; Chest pain clinic risk assessment

Top cardiologist pleads guilty to child abuse material

Professor Andrew McGavigan, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Flinders University, Adelaide, has pleaded guilty to possessing child abuse material.

According to media reports, Professor McGavigan was arrested on December 7, 2020 after police from an Anti Child Exploitation Team raided his home and found abusive material on his mobile phone.

Appearing at the Adelaide Magistrates Court he pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing child exploitation material, the ABC reported.

Professor McGavigan was a Board Member of the CSANZ, Chair of the Electrophysiology and Pacing Council of CSANZ and a Board Member of the Australasian Cardiac Outcomes Registry.

He has been granted bail and his case will be heard in April 30.

Cardiology dispute settled at golf club?

A long-running dispute over the location of paediatric cardiology services in Sydney has led some cardiologists to accuse the state health department of making “golf club decisions” based on influence rather than evidence and  expert advice.

Several independent cardiologists who took part in a review of where cardiac surgery should be performed in Sydney said the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (SCNHN) had made a ‘ridiculous’ compromise and ignored their evidence-based recommendations for services to be located at Westmead rather than Randwick Hospital.

“We believe that the SCHN board must make a decision on the future of paediatric open heart surgical services driven by current evidence and not driven by the desire of a small number of clinicians to support a low volume, inferior service,” they wrote in a letter obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Overcoming optimistic bias in chest pain clinic risk assessment

An absolute cardiovascular risk strategy can be used opportunistically in the setting of a chest pain clinics to help provide patients with an individualised, pro-active risk factor management approaches that significantly improve their five- year absolute cardiovascular risk, Australian research shows.

Clinicians at the rapid access chest pain clinic of Royal Hobart Hospital trialled the use of absolute risk scores to start discussions with intermediate and high risk patients to get them to engage with cardiovascular prevention measures. After at least a year of follow up they found there was a mean –2.4 percentage points reduction compared to a +0.4 percentage points change for 98 control group of ‘usual care’ patients. The greatest changes were seen in lipid profile, systolic blood pressure, and smoking status. Writing in the MJA the researchers aid that both patients and doctors  tended to estimate cardiovascular risk imprecisely, and the absolute risk assessment could help overcome ‘optimistic bias’ and encourage patients’ adoption of preventive actions and activities.

Beta blockers may inhibit breast cancer spread

Beta blockers have the potential to reduce breast cancer progression because the sympathetic nervous system regulates  growth of primary mammary tumours via release of catecholamines, according to researchers at Monash University. Using experimental models they showed that carvedilol blocked the effects of sympathetic nervous system activation, reducing primary tumour growth and metastasis and prevented invasion by breast cancer cell lines. The hypothesis that beta blockers may have benefit in breast cancer was supported by a retrospective analysis showing that women using carvedilol at breast cancer diagnosis had reduced breast cancer-specific five-mortality compared with women who did not (3.1% versus 5.7%) they reported in the European Journal of Cancer.

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