Background: Medical schools differ, particularly in their teaching, but it is unclear whether such differences matter, although influential claims are often made. The Medical School Differences (MedDifs) study brings together a wide range of measures of UK medical schools, including postgraduate performance, fitness to practise issues, specialty choice, preparedness, satisfaction, teaching styles, entry criteria and institutional factors. Method: Aggregated data were collected for 50 measures across 29 UK medical schools. Data include institutional history (e.g. rate of production of hospital and GP specialists in the past), curricular influences (e.g.
Background: What subjects UK medical schools teach, what ways they teach subjects, and how much they teach those subjects is unclear. Whether teaching differences matter is a separate, important question. This study provides a detailed picture of timetabled undergraduate teaching activity at 25 UK medical schools, particularly in relation to problem-based learning (PBL). Method: The Analysis of Teaching of Medical Schools (AToMS) survey used detailed timetables provided by 25 schools with standard 5-year courses. Timetabled teaching events were coded in terms of course year, duration, teaching format, and teaching content. Ten schools used PBL. Teaching times from timetables were validated against two other studies that had assessed GP teaching and lecture, seminar, and tutorial times. Results: A total of 47,258 timetabled teaching events in the academic year 2014/2015 were analysed, including SSCs (student-selected components) and elective studies. A typical UK medical student receives 3960 timetabled hours of teaching during their 5-year course. There was a clear difference between the initial 2 years which mostly contained basic medical science content and the later 3 years which mostly consisted of clinical teaching, although some clinical teaching occurs in the first 2 years. Medical schools differed in duration, format, and content of teaching. Two main factors underlay most of the variation between schools, Traditional vs PBL teaching and Structured vs Unstructured teaching. A curriculum map comparing medical schools was constructed using those factors. PBL schools differed on a number of measures, having more PBL teaching time, fewer lectures, more GP teaching, less surgery, less formal teaching of basic science, and more sessions with unspecified content. Discussion: UK medical schools differ in both format and content of teaching. PBL and non-PBL schools clearly differ, albeit with substantial variation within groups, and overlap in the middle. The important question of whether differences in teaching matter in terms of outcomes is analysed in a companion study (MedDifs) which examines how teaching differences relate to university infrastructure, entry requirements, student perceptions, and outcomes in Foundation Programme and postgraduate training.
Heart failure (HF) affects 23 million people worldwide and results in 300000 annual deaths. It is associated with many comorbidities, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and risk factors for both conditions overlap. Eleven percent of HF patients have OSA and 7.7% of OSA patients have left ventricular ejection fraction <50% with arrhythmias being a significant comorbidity in HF and OSA patients. Forty percent of HF patients develop atrial fibrillation (AF) and 30%-50% of deaths from cardiac causes in HF patients are from sudden cardiac death. OSA is prevalent in 32%-49% of patients with AF and there is a dose-dependent relationship between OSA severity and resistance to anti-arrhythmic therapies. HF and OSA lead to various downstream arrhythmogenic mechanisms, including metabolic derangement, remodeling, inflammation, and autonomic imbalance. (1) Metabolic derangement and production of reactive oxidative species increase late Na+ currents, decrease outward K+ currents and downregulate connexin-43 and cell-cell coupling. (2) remodeling also features downregulated K+ currents in addition to decreased Na+/K+ ATPase currents, altered Ca2+ homeostasis, and increased density of If current. (3) Chronic inflammation leads to downregulation of both Nav1.5 channels and K+ channels, altered Ca2+ homeostasis and reduced cellular coupling from alterations of connexin expression. (4) Autonomic imbalance causes arrhythmias by evoking triggered activity through increased Ca2+ transients and reduction of excitation wavefront wavelength. Thus, consideration of these multiple pathophysiological pathways (1-4) will enable the development of novel therapeutic strategies that can be targeted against arrhythmias in the context of complex disease, such as the comorbidities of HF and OSA.
Introduction: Ageing and chronic metabolic disorders are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and cardiac pro-arrhythmic phenotypes which were recently attributed to slowed atrial and ventricular action potential (AP) conduction in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ co-activator deficient (Pgc-1β−/−) mice. Methods: We compared expression levels of voltage-gated Na+ channel (NaV1.5) and gap junction channels, Connexins 40 and 43 (Cx40 and Cx43) in the hearts of young and old, and wild-type (WT) and Pgc-1β−/− mice. This employed Western blotting (WB) for NaV1.5, Cx40 and Cx43 in atrial/ventricular tissue lysates, and immunofluorescence (IF) from Cx43 was explored in tissue sections. Results were analysed using two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) for independent/interacting effects of age and genotype. Results: In atria, increased age and Pgc-1β−/− genotype each independently decreased both Cx40 and Cx43 expression without interacting effects. In IF experiments, both age and Pgc-1β deletion independently reduced Cx43 expression. In ventricles, age and genotype exerted interacting effects in WB studies of NaV1.5 expression. Young Pgc-1β−/− then showed greater NaV1.5 expression than young WT ventricles. However, neither age nor Pgc-1β deletion affected Cx43 expression, independently or through interacting effects in both WB and IF studies. Conclusion: Similar pro-arrhythmic atrial/ventricular phenotypes arise in aged/Pgc-1β−/− from differing contributions of altered protein expression and functional effects that may arise from multiple acute mechanisms.
Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) is associated with mutations in the cardiac ryanodine receptor (RyR2). These result in stress-induced ventricular arrhythmic episodes, with clinical symptoms and prognosis reported more severe in male than female patients. Murine homozygotic RyR2-P2328S (RyR2 S/S) hearts replicate the proarrhythmic CPVT phenotype of abnormal sarcoplasmic reticular Ca 2+ leak and disrupted Ca 2+ homeostasis. In addition, RyR2 S/S hearts show decreased myocardial action potential conduction velocities (CV), all features implicated in arrhythmic trigger and substrate. The present studies explored for independent and interacting effects of RyR2 S/S genotype and sex on expression levels of molecular determinants of Ca 2+ homeostasis (CASQ2, FKBP12, SERCA2a, NCX1, and Ca V 1.2) and CV (Na V 1.5, Connexin (Cx)-43, phosphorylated-Cx43, and TGF-β1) in mice. Expression levels of Ca 2+ homeostasis proteins were not altered, hence implicating abnormal RyR2 function alone in disrupted cytosolic Ca 2+ homeostasis. Furthermore, altered Na V 1.5, phosphorylated Cx43, and TGF-β1 expression were not implicated in the development of slowed CV. By contrast, decreased Cx43 expression correlated with slowed CV, in female, but not male, RyR2 S/S mice. The CV changes may reflect acute actions of the increased cytosolic Ca 2+ on Na V 1.5 and Cx43 function.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in adults, and new methods of predicting disease and risk-stratifying patients will help guide intervention in order to reduce this burden. Current CAD detection involves multiple modalities, but the consideration of other biomarkers will help improve reliability. The aim of this narrative review is to help researchers and clinicians appreciate the growing relevance of miRNA in CAD and its potential as a biomarker, and also to suggest useful miRNA that may be targets for future study. We sourced information from several databases, namely PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar, when collating evidentiary information. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are short, noncoding RNAs that are relevant in cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology, playing roles in cardiac hypertrophy, maintenance of vascular tone, and responses to vascular injury. CAD is associated with changes in miRNA expression profiles, and so are its risk factors, such as abnormal lipid metabolism and inflammation. Thus, they may potentially be biomarkers of CAD. Nevertheless, there are limitations in using miRNA. These include cost and the presence of several confounding factors that may affect miRNA profiles. Furthermore, there is difficulty in the normalisation of miRNA values between published studies, due to pre-analytical variations in samples.
Incidence of cardiac arrhythmias increases significantly with age. In order to effectively stratify arrhythmic risk in the aging population it is crucial to elucidate the relevant underlying molecular mechanisms. The changes underlying age-related electrophysiological disruption appear to be closely associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus, the present review examines the mechanisms by which age-related mitochondrial dysfunction promotes arrhythmic triggers and substrate. Namely, via alterations in plasmalemmal ionic currents (both sodium and potassium), gap junctions, cellular Ca2+ homeostasis, and cardiac fibrosis. Stratification of patients' mitochondrial function status permits application of appropriate anti-arrhythmic therapies. Here, we discuss novel potential anti-arrhythmic pharmacological interventions that specifically target upstream mitochondrial function and hence ameliorates the need for therapies targeting downstream changes which have constituted traditional antiarrhythmic therapy.
Bisphosphonates (BPs) are widely prescribed drugs used to treat osteoporosis, commonly arising in postmenopausal women and in chronic glucocorticoid use. Their mechanism of action is through inhibiting osteoclast‐induced bone remodeling, and they also possess calcium sequestering properties. Common side effects involve the gastrointestinal system and rare but serious side effects, including osteonecrosis of the jaw. However, a link between BPs and atrial fibrillation (AF) has been proposed, with early clinical trials, such as the Fracture Intervention Trial and the HORIZON Pivotal Fracture Trial, reporting that BPs are associated with increased risk of AF. Nevertheless, subsequent studies have reported contrasting results, ranging from no effect of BPs to antiarrhythmic effects of BPs. Preclinical and electrophysiological studies on any proarrhythmic effect of BPs are limited in scope and number, but suggest possible mechanisms that include antiangionesis‐related myocardial remodeling, calcium handling abnormalities, and inflammatory changes. Contrastingly, some studies indicate that BPs are antiarrhythmic by inhibiting fibrotic myocardial remodeling. In order to continue established clinical prescribing of BPs within absolute margins of safety, it will be necessary to systematically rule in/rule out these mechanisms. Thus, we discuss these studies and examine in detail the potential mechanistic links, with the aim of suggesting further avenues for research.
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