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Cardiology Roundup: Apple's Watch heart study, Amarin's Vascepa follow-up

The American College of Cardiology's annual scientific meeting, bringing together more than 16,600 attendees and 273 exhibitors, wrapped up March 18 following a weekend of cardiovascular results from studies around the world.

SNL ImageThe Apple Watch Series 4, cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September 2018. Study participants used the Series 1, 2 or 3.
Source: Apple

Apple's wearable tech can detect heart risk

Apple Inc.'s Apple Watch study in more than 400,000 participants — one of the largest of its kind — showed that the wearable consumer technology can detect irregularities in heart rate that could eventually lead to more severe problems down the road.

The study showed that 0.5% of participants received a notification that they had an irregular heartbeat, and 84% of those people were found to be in atrial fibrillation at the time. More than half of the people who received a notification sought medical attention.

Participants were required to have an Apple Watch Series 1, 2 or 3, and an iPhone.

Amarin's Vascepa improves upon 2018 results

Amarin Corp. PLC presented a follow-up to 2018's results from its yearslong study of Vascepa, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement that comes from fish oil, showing a 30% reduction in the number of heart attacks. In the previous results, it had shown a 25% reduction.

Vascepa led to about 159 fewer major adverse cardiovascular events per 1,000 patients compared with placebo, Amarin reported, out of more than 8,000 in the trial. These patients had high levels of triglycerides and were already on statin therapy for the risk of heart attack or because they already had one.

Eliquis shows heart benefit in post-approval study

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer Inc. presented post-approval results that showed their blood thinner Eliquis improved safety for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, which is characterized by irregular heart rhythm and can lead to stroke.

Compared to those who received vitamin K antagonists, another blood thinner, patients taking Eliquis experienced fewer instances of major or clinically relevant non-major bleeding after six months.

AstraZeneca drug reduces heart attack risk in diabetes patients

AstraZeneca PLC's type 2 diabetes drug Farxiga, an SGLT-2 inhibitor designed to improve patients' blood sugar levels, also cut the risk of heart attack by 16% in those patients.

Because patients with type 2 diabetes are often at high risk for heart attack, a clinical benefit could help give the drug a leg up on the competition, notably Johnson & Johnson's Invokana and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH's Jardiance.

SNL ImageMedtronic's Evolut Pro transcatheter aortic valve replacement
Source: Medtronic

Medtronic's valve replacement works as well as surgery

Medtronic PLC's transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, system, named Evolut, prevented death or disabling stroke in low-risk patients, working as well as open-heart surgery.

The patients, who had a narrowing of the heart's aortic valve, received Medtronic's device as a replacement designed to improve blood flow. In 30 days, fewer of those treated with the device had a disabling stroke or died compared with patients who had surgery.

Cowen analyst Joshua Jennings said that the results for the TAVR device were not only positive for Medtronic but could "benefit all TAVR market participants to some degree."

Medtronic mesh for implantable devices prevents infection

In another positive outcome for Medtronic, the company's TYRX envelope — a mesh coating with antibacterial properties for implantable cardiac pacemakers and implantable defibrillators — cut the risk of infections from such devices by 40% compared with pre-surgical antibiotics.

Morgan Stanley Research analyst David Lewis said that, although the results showed superiority over the control, the clinical significance is "less clear," and the "financial implications likely modest" for Medtronic.

Edwards Lifesciences' heart valve improves outcomes

Edwards Lifesciences Corp. reported that its own transcatheter aortic valve replacement, called Sapien 3, performed better than surgery in patients with narrowing of the aortic valve. After one year, the risk of death, stroke and rehospitalization for patients with the device was just 8.5%, while the risk for patients who received surgery was 15.1%.

Esperion's bempedoic acid late-stage trial confirms preliminary results

Esperion Therapeutics Inc. presented further results from its late-stage trial of bempedoic acid for patients with high cholesterol. In addition to lowering cholesterol over the initial 12 weeks, it was also shown to be safe and tolerable over 52 weeks, a secondary endpoint in the trial.

The American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Sessions & Expo was held in New Orleans March 16-18.