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Looking ahead to the annual ACC meeting

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | April 26, 2021
Dr. Y.S. Chandrashekhar
From the April 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The American College of Cardiology's 70th Annual Scientific Session & Expo will take place virtually from May 15 – 17. In advance of the show, we spoke to Dr. Y.S. Chandrashekhar, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Chandrashekhar offered insight into the changes and challenges wrought by COVID-19 and talked about some of the exciting advances that are happening in cardiac imaging today.

HealthCare Business News: How has the role of cardiac imaging evolved over the course of the pandemic?

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Dr. Y.S. Chandrashekhar: The greatest difficulty was how to calibrate imaging volume with the ebb and flow of the pandemic. Even with curtailed imaging, we had a lot of challenges — which patients do we bring in for imaging? How do we choose the tests that are the most efficient and expose both patients and technicians to the least risk?

Our labs also had to be configured to accommodate for social distancing. There were lots of things that we normally don’t think of. Then, of course, we have to do something called focus studies instead of our full regular protocol. In some cases, answering very targeted questions. And we had to innovate sometimes. For example, our patients used to be in the ICU in a prone positon, and if you had to do an echocardiogram on them, that’s a tough thing to do. So there was a group in England that created a workaround where they positioned the probe between the bed and the patient and they could create an echo picture with reasonable utility.

Lastly, we found things in the imaging tests that we didn’t know about and are still fretting about now — something you see on an MRI for a patient who was asymptomatic, was it myocardic? Should I worry?

HCB News: One post-COVID-19 ailment that crops up is heart issues. Is that something that has required new learning for clinicians or was it something that professionals were reminded to be more aware of looking for?
YC: There are two sets of issues. Most of these problems we’ve seen with other diseases, but here what happens is that they’re concentrated in a sick patient. The second thing, while some of these changes, like the inflammation of the heart, are seen in other diseases, what to do with the COVID patient is continually evolving with no strongly established guidelines. But yes, they’re problems we’re familiar with and we’re on the lookout more for them.

HCB News: As the editor of JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, did you feel extra responsibility to highlight the right research in the early days of the pandemic? If so, can you tell us about that experience?

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