Before I tell you what this site is about let me first tell you what it is not and why we think the world needs a new cardiology website.

We are not an academic or scholarly publication, and we don’t seek to compete with traditional journals or other cardiology sites. Instead, we hope to offer something that’s not available anywhere else.

We are all familiar with what happens when a big new study is published, or an important new drug is approved, or a new guideline released. These events will often be presented with a single “official” opinion, expressed with the confident voice of authority and power. A new study, for instance, will be published in a prestigious journal and will be accompanied by a single editorial, which will predigest the findings for the easy and willing consumption of the medical community. Along the same lines, new drugs or guidelines appear with the endorsement and commentary of carefully selected experts. The purpose of all these communications is to limit or define the parameters of discourse and direct the conversation along lines preferred by the leading figures in the field. And, of course, when there are commercial forces at play, you can be sure that there will be plenty of “experts” who will be given a very loud megaphone to present views favorable to the companies involved. (It may be hard to acknowledge but we often want to be told what to think. The last thing we want is to be told to think for ourselves, especially if a topic is difficult and perplexing!)

The goal of CVCT CardioBrief, in contrast, is to provide a platform for a wide variety of perspectives on topics of interest in the cardiovascular world. Our “special sauce” is that we recognize that science, in general, and medicine and cardiology, in particular, are not the exclusive and privileged domain of experts delivering their knowledge to the assembled masses like the 10 commandments. Rather, we encourage the view that the most interesting and important topics are the subject of ongoing investigation and thought, and that the perspective of any expert, no matter how prestigious, is only as good as his or her ability to respond to critical scrutiny.

This sort of open discussion and pushback has been available for some time on Twitter and I have been a big fan of Twitter for more than a decade. But it needs to be acknowledged that Twitter has important limitations, including sometimes a very low signal-to-noise ratio. Many in the medical community are intimidated or confused by Twitter or are reluctant to invest the time required to make it helpful. CVCT CardioBrief aims to bring some of the immediacy of Twitter, but in a more coherent form and with careful curation. At the same time, we also believe that CVCT CardioBrief and Twitter are not mutually exclusive. Twitter will undoubtedly remain an important source for open discussion which CVCT CardioBrief contributors will use and CVCT CardioBrief can become a useful resource for “cardiotwitter,” providing a more permanent or accessible repository for some of the best content on Twitter.

Some might argue that there are already a multitude of forums for different perspectives, including letters to the editor and other published formats. But in an age when the urgent pressure to adopt practice to new findings may be overwhelming, these responses often appear only after issues have long been resolved for all practical purposes. It should also be noted that journal editors are notoriously ruthless in their limitations on length. Not all alternative perspectives can be delivered in a few words.

An inspirational model for CVCT CardioBrief is the annual real world CVCT meeting in Washington, DC. Most people are likely unaware of this meeting, since by necessity and design it is small, and not a forum for breaking news. But as prior participants can attest, this meeting brings a depth and freedom to discussion about important issues that is often difficult to find at larger, better known meetings. Our goal is to bring over as much of that experience as possible to anyone interested, for free and continuously throughout the year. It also seems clear that, at this time, as real world meetings are in danger as never before, the need for an online format that provides some of the same features may be more urgent than ever.

CVCT CardioBrief seeks to publish blogs (and commentary on blogs) from a wide variety of people in the cardiovascular community. We are not just looking for contributions from the CVCT faculty or other academic “experts” and clinical trialists. We want to encourage participation from a wide variety of people interested in cardiovascular medicine, including regulators, health officials, industry executives, and, importantly, patients and healthcare consumers. We do not plan to heavily control the content, but we do hope to carefully curate the content in order to maintain a reasonable signal-to-noise ratio and a respectful tone. We are not interested in providing a forum for conspiracy theorists or science denialists. On the other hand, we will encourage contributions that cast a critical eye on established modes of thinking.

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Larry Husten was the editor of TheHeart.Org from its inception in 1999 until December 2008. Before that he was a freelance medical journalist who wrote for The Lancet, The New York Times, Discover, and a large number of other medical and computer publications. In 1994-1995 he was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. He received a PHD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo and drove a taxicab in New York City before embarking on a career in medical journalism.


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