To discuss the latest advances, treatments and care strategies to combat heart disease, thousands of cardiologists from around the world descend on Atlanta, Georgia this weekend.
Some of the 30 studies and trials hoping to grab the spotlight at this year's American College of Cardiology four-day meeting shed light on the effectiveness of new products to fight the number one killer in the United States.
Advertisement"Obviously the buzz word is comparative effectiveness at this conference and in Washington," Temple University School of Medicine cardiothoracic surgeon James McClurken told reporters.
"A lot of these trials are looking at what works with the least side effects and what works most affordably."
The conference comes as the country is roiled by a major debate over reforming the US health care system to expand health insurance access to tens of millions of Americans who have none.
President Barack Obama has escalated his year-long fight to cajole Congress into passing a sweeping health care overhaul, and delayed his departure on a trip to Indonesia and Australia by three days for a last push to get lawmakers to pass the controversial legislation.
Among the featured studies for the gathering of 28,000 heart specialists that begins Saturday is a vast randomized Phase III drug trial conducted in the United States, Canada and Europe.
It compares a non-surgical technique to remedy a deficient heart valve responsible for mitral regurgitation using Abbott's MitraClip to more invasive and more common open heart surgery to repair or replace the valve.
The data is key to paving the way for US approval of the clip, which is already commercialized in Europe. It was developed by California firm Evalve, which was acquired by US pharmaceutical group Abbott last year.
MitraClip is the only device of its kind, and considerably reduces risks and costs linked to open heart surgery.
Should it gain access to the US market, it would also stand to benefit a large clientele base, as the heart condition, which takes place when the mitral valve does not close tightly and thus allows blood to flow back to the heart, is among the most common types of heart valve problems.
The conference will also feature studies on cardiovascular disease in patients also suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
This adult form of diabetes linked to being overweight has risen steadily. The disease also increases the risk of early development of cardiovascular diseases.
Two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight, and the average American carries 23 superfluous pounds (11 kilograms).
In health terms, being obese means a person is at greater risk for a whole host of maladies, ranging from high blood pressure to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The NAVIGATOR clinical trial, one of the most extensive ever covering 39 countries, considers a simultaneous treatment to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease using diabetes drug Starlix (nateglinide) and hypertension drug Diovan (Valsartan), both from Swiss group Novartis.
On Tuesday, researchers will present a clinical trial by US health group Medco looking at dosing the powerful anti-coagulant warfarine based on patients' genotype, thus reducing the risk of brain hemorrhage.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the United States, with more than 900,000 deaths per year, and are responsible for over 17 million deaths worldwide annually, according to the World Health Organization.
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