A doctor and student at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar have received a prestigious award for their research into the relationship between calcium deposits in coronary arteries and high blood pressure.
Dr. Mohamed B. Elshazly, cardiologist, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar and graduate of WCM-Q Class 2010 and Amal Abdellatif, who is in the final year of her medical degree, were presented with the Paul Dudley White International Scholar at Scientific Sessions award for their work on arterial calcium deposits, hypertension and coronary heart disease. The award is given to the highest ranked international abstracts at scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, with the ranking performed by independent cardiovascular researchers.
In collaboration with international researchers, the pair examined whether the presence of calcium deposits in coronary arteries are an indication that doctors should intervene with intensive hypertension treatment to prevent future heart disease, even when other high-risk factors like old age, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are not present.
Working with scientists at a number of international institutions, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health in Ireland, Amal and Dr. Elshazly performed the research at WCM-Q using the US’s multiethnic study of atherosclerosis (MESA) database. MESA is a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that examines early atherosclerosis – a condition where the arteries narrow through a build-up of plaque.
The research was presented at a scientific session of the American Heart Association, which is the largest annual cardiovascular medicine conference in the world.
Amal said: “I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take part in such a study with potentially significant clinical implications. Every stage of the process from study design, up to presenting the poster in a conference hosting pioneers in cardiology, has been remarkably enriching in this stage of my training.
“Dr. Elshazly has been a wonderful mentor and guide and has gracefully introduced me to the rewarding field of clinical research. I am hoping I can extend what I gained from this experience into my future career to answer more clinical questions.”
The research involved examining the records of 1,859 participants with stage one hypertension who are included on the MESA database. Just over half were male and the participants had an average age of 63 years. Whether or not they had coronary calcium deposits - and how severe those deposits were - were then compared with their medical outcomes when other risk factors had been taken into consideration.
The research found that the presence of coronary artery calcium, particularly a score greater than 100, does increase the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease in patients with mild hypertension.
Dr. Elshazly, himself an alumnus of WCM-Q, said: “This is the first MESA study to be performed by Qatar investigators. It is an important example of how global the process of research has become. A study funded by the US National Institutes of Health with US patients has allowed us, as investigators from Qatar, to analyze the data and produce science that can impact worldwide blood pressure guideline development and around a billion patients with hypertension around the world.
“The study is very important for the entire world including patients with hypertension in Qatar. Moreover, it sets a good example that scientists in Qatar can build international collaborations and do research anywhere across the world.”
Dr. Elshazly added: “Amal and I would like to thank all the co-authors and investigators, especially our statistician at the biostatistics core at WCM-Q, Soha Dargham, and our senior investigator Dr. John McEvoy. We would like to thank the other investigators, the staff, and the participants of the MESA study for their valuable contributions.”