November 7th, 2012

Science, with a Little Bit of Flash

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending AHA.12 in LA this week are blogging together for CardioExchange. The Fellows include Tariq AhmadReva BalakrishnanMegan CoylewrightEiman JahangirAmit Shah, and John Ryan (moderator). Read the previous post here. Find the next one here. For related CardioExchange content, go to our AHA 2012 Headquarters page.

At the Late-Breaking Clinical Trials session on management of LV dysfunction, I had the distinct feeling that I’ll be telling people a decade from now that “I was there” when studies on therapies that they have come to take for granted were first presented.

I found the story of RELAX-AHF to be particularly compelling. For the first time in decades, a medication appeared to improve symptoms and reduce mortality in acute heart failure. How amazing that the medication is the synthetic analog of a peptide made during pregnancy. Dr. John Teerlink, who presented the data, put it quite well when he stated, “All good things come from women.” It appeared during the presentation that the humanities and sciences were coming together to offer a new medication to patients. However, as Dr. John McMurray (the discussant) noted, we should see whether these results are replicable.

The aspect of these presentations that I have found most intriguing is the simultaneous online publication in top journals. It certainly adds an extra level of ceremony to the presentation. People seated around me were hitting their computers’ reload buttons for the New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, and Lancet websites so that they would be able to read the simultaneously released papers during the 10-minute presentation of those results at AHA.

I am one of those who enjoy this aspect of the late breakers. I would love to be a “fly on the wall” when the decisions are made, as I’m curious about what occurs behind the scenes during these simultaneous publications. How much time do the authors and editors have to arrive at a mutually agreed-upon manuscript? What if the reviewers have major concerns? Does it ever influence the quality of the paper? Do people feel that this is too over the top and unnecessary?


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