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1.  The Cost-Effectiveness of Low-Cost Essential Antihypertensive Medicines for Hypertension Control in China: A Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(8):e1001860.
Background
Hypertension is China’s leading cardiovascular disease risk factor. Improved hypertension control in China would result in result in enormous health gains in the world’s largest population. A computer simulation model projected the cost-effectiveness of hypertension treatment in Chinese adults, assuming a range of essential medicines list drug costs.
Methods and Findings
The Cardiovascular Disease Policy Model-China, a Markov-style computer simulation model, simulated hypertension screening, essential medicines program implementation, hypertension control program administration, drug treatment and monitoring costs, disease-related costs, and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained by preventing cardiovascular disease or lost because of drug side effects in untreated hypertensive adults aged 35–84 y over 2015–2025. Cost-effectiveness was assessed in cardiovascular disease patients (secondary prevention) and for two blood pressure ranges in primary prevention (stage one, 140–159/90–99 mm Hg; stage two, ≥160/≥100 mm Hg). Treatment of isolated systolic hypertension and combined systolic and diastolic hypertension were modeled as a reduction in systolic blood pressure; treatment of isolated diastolic hypertension was modeled as a reduction in diastolic blood pressure. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses explored ranges of antihypertensive drug effectiveness and costs, monitoring frequency, medication adherence, side effect severity, background hypertension prevalence, antihypertensive medication treatment, case fatality, incidence and prevalence, and cardiovascular disease treatment costs. Median antihypertensive costs from Shanghai and Yunnan province were entered into the model in order to estimate the effects of very low and high drug prices. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios less than the per capita gross domestic product of China (11,900 international dollars [Int$] in 2015) were considered cost-effective. Treating hypertensive adults with prior cardiovascular disease for secondary prevention was projected to be cost saving in the main simulation and 100% of probabilistic simulation results. Treating all hypertension for primary and secondary prevention would prevent about 800,000 cardiovascular disease events annually (95% uncertainty interval, 0.6 to 1.0 million) and was borderline cost-effective incremental to treating only cardiovascular disease and stage two patients (2015 Int$13,000 per QALY gained [95% uncertainty interval, Int$10,000 to Int$18,000]). Of all one-way sensitivity analyses, assuming adherence to taking medications as low as 25%, high Shanghai drug costs, or low medication efficacy led to the most unfavorable results (treating all hypertension, about Int$47,000, Int$37,000, and Int$27,000 per QALY were gained, respectively). The strengths of this study were the use of a recent Chinese national health survey, vital statistics, health care costs, and cohort study outcomes data as model inputs and reliance on clinical-trial-based estimates of coronary heart disease and stroke risk reduction due to antihypertensive medication treatment. The limitations of the study were the use of several sources of data, limited clinical trial evidence for medication effectiveness and harms in the youngest and oldest age groups, lack of information about geographic and ethnic subgroups, lack of specific information about indirect costs borne by patients, and uncertainty about the future epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases in China.
Conclusions
Expanded hypertension treatment has the potential to prevent about 800,000 cardiovascular disease events annually and be borderline cost-effective in China, provided low-cost essential antihypertensive medicines programs can be implemented.
In a Markov-style simulation model, Andrew Moran and colleagues estimate the reduction in cardiovascular disease and cost-effectiveness of broad provision of antihypertensive medications in China.
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, in 2008, more than one billion people had high blood pressure (hypertension), a condition that is responsible for about 10 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure (BP), the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. BP is highest when the heart contracts to pump blood out (systolic BP) and lowest when the heart relaxes and refills (diastolic BP). Normal adult BP is defined as a systolic BP of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic BP of less than 80 mm Hg (a BP of <120/80 mm Hg). A BP of 140–159/90–99 mm Hg indicates mild (stage one) hypertension; a BP of ≥160/≥100 mg Hg indicates severe (stage two) hypertension. Many factors affect BP, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Lifestyle changes and/or antihypertensive drugs can be used to control the condition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Hypertension is the leading cardiovascular risk factor in China, the world’s most populous country. About 325 million adults in China have hypertension, but less than half are aware of their condition, only 34% of Chinese adults with hypertension are treated with antihypertensive drugs, and only 28% of treated individuals achieve a BP of <140/90 mm Hg. Improved hypertension control would yield enormous health gains in China, but would these gains outweigh the costs of this intervention? The World Health Organization defines a “highly cost-effective” intervention as one for which the incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER; in this case, the ratio of the cost difference between the intervention and no intervention to the difference in outcomes) is less than a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (a country’s total economic output divided by its number of inhabitants) per quality-adjusted life year gained (a QALY is a measure of disease burden that considers both the quality and quantity of life lived). Here, the researchers use a computer simulation model to project the cost-effectiveness of hypertension treatment in Chinese adults using the low-cost antihypertensive drugs included on the national essential medicines list. In China, most patients pay for drugs out-of-pocket, but several antihypertensive medications with affordable prices are available in government-sponsored primary health facilities.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a computer model called the “Cardiovascular Disease Policy Model-China” to simulate the costs of hypertension screening, essential medicines program implementation, hypertension control program administration, drug treatment and monitoring, and the QALYs gained by preventing CVD in Chinese adults with untreated hypertension aged 35–84 y between 2015 and 2025. According to the model, treating hypertension for both primary prevention of CVD (reduction of hypertension in healthy individuals to prevent the development of CVD) and secondary prevention (reduction of hypertension in people who already have CVD to prevent further heart attacks or strokes) would prevent between 600,000 and a million CVD events annually. Treating only patients with CVD and patients with severe hypertension was borderline cost-effective. The ICER of this intervention was between Int$10,000 and Int$18,000 per QALY gained; China’s GDP per capita is Int$11,900.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that an expanded program of treatment for hypertension could prevent about 800,000 cardiovascular events every year in China. Such a program should be borderline cost-effective, provided low-cost essential antihypertensive drugs are used to control hypertension. As with all computer simulation studies, the numerous assumptions incorporated into the model limit the accuracy of these findings. For example, some model inputs were derived from studies of non-Chinese patients and may not accurately represent the Chinese population. Moreover, the model only considers the cost-effectiveness of using medications to control hypertension and does not consider the potential effects of lifestyle changes. Importantly, additional simulations indicate that the cost-effectiveness of the intervention would be greatly reduced if adherence to treatment were lowered or drug costs were increased. Thus, full implementation of the essential medicinesprogram and subsidized drug costs program will be needed to reap the full benefits of improved hypertension control in China.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001860.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high BP (in English and Spanish) and a guide to lowering BP through diet
The American Heart Association provides information on hypertension and on CVDs (in several languages); it also provides personal stories about dealing with high BP
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension (including a personal story) and about CVD
The World Health Organization provides information on CVD and controlling hypertension; "A Global Brief on Hypertension" was publi shed on World Health Day 2013; WHO-CHOICE provides information on choosing cost-effective interventions
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high BP, heart disease, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001860
PMCID: PMC4524696  PMID: 26241895
2.  Risk Stratification by Self-Measured Home Blood Pressure across Categories of Conventional Blood Pressure: A Participant-Level Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001591.
Jan Staessen and colleagues compare the risk of cardiovascular, cardiac, or cerebrovascular events in patients with elevated office blood pressure vs. self-measured home blood pressure.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The Global Burden of Diseases Study 2010 reported that hypertension is worldwide the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, causing 9.4 million deaths annually. We examined to what extent self-measurement of home blood pressure (HBP) refines risk stratification across increasing categories of conventional blood pressure (CBP).
Methods and Findings
This meta-analysis included 5,008 individuals randomly recruited from five populations (56.6% women; mean age, 57.1 y). All were not treated with antihypertensive drugs. In multivariable analyses, hazard ratios (HRs) associated with 10-mm Hg increases in systolic HBP were computed across CBP categories, using the following systolic/diastolic CBP thresholds (in mm Hg): optimal, <120/<80; normal, 120–129/80–84; high-normal, 130–139/85–89; mild hypertension, 140–159/90–99; and severe hypertension, ≥160/≥100.
Over 8.3 y, 522 participants died, and 414, 225, and 194 had cardiovascular, cardiac, and cerebrovascular events, respectively. In participants with optimal or normal CBP, HRs for a composite cardiovascular end point associated with a 10-mm Hg higher systolic HBP were 1.28 (1.01–1.62) and 1.22 (1.00–1.49), respectively. At high-normal CBP and in mild hypertension, the HRs were 1.24 (1.03–1.49) and 1.20 (1.06–1.37), respectively, for all cardiovascular events and 1.33 (1.07–1.65) and 1.30 (1.09–1.56), respectively, for stroke. In severe hypertension, the HRs were not significant (p≥0.20). Among people with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP, 67 (5.0%), 187 (18.4%), and 315 (30.3%), respectively, had masked hypertension (HBP≥130 mm Hg systolic or ≥85 mm Hg diastolic). Compared to true optimal CBP, masked hypertension was associated with a 2.3-fold (1.5–3.5) higher cardiovascular risk. A limitation was few data from low- and middle-income countries.
Conclusions
HBP substantially refines risk stratification at CBP levels assumed to carry no or only mildly increased risk, in particular in the presence of masked hypertension. Randomized trials could help determine the best use of CBP vs. HBP in guiding BP management. Our study identified a novel indication for HBP, which, in view of its low cost and the increased availability of electronic communication, might be globally applicable, even in remote areas or in low-resource settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Globally, hypertension (high blood pressure) is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is responsible for 9.4 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is pumping out blood (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart is refilling (diastolic blood pressure). European guidelines define optimal blood pressure as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mm Hg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg). Normal blood pressure, high-normal blood pressure, and mild hypertension are defined as blood pressures in the ranges 120–129/80–84 mm Hg, 130–139/85–89 mm Hg, and 140–159/90–99 mm Hg, respectively. A blood pressure of more than 160 mm Hg systolic or 100 mm Hg diastolic indicates severe hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure; overweight people and individuals who eat salty or fatty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Lifestyle changes and/or antihypertensive drugs can be used to control hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
The current guidelines for the diagnosis and management of hypertension recommend risk stratification based on conventionally measured blood pressure (CBP, the average of two consecutive measurements made at a clinic). However, self-measured home blood pressure (HBP) more accurately predicts outcomes because multiple HBP readings are taken and because HBP measurement avoids the “white-coat effect”—some individuals have a raised blood pressure in a clinical setting but not at home. Could risk stratification across increasing categories of CBP be refined through the use of self-measured HBP, particularly at CBP levels assumed to be associated with no or only mildly increased risk? Here, the researchers undertake a participant-level meta-analysis (a study that uses statistical approaches to pool results from individual participants in several independent studies) to answer this question.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers included 5,008 individuals recruited from five populations and enrolled in the International Database of Home Blood Pressure in Relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDHOCO) in their meta-analysis. CBP readings were available for all the participants, who measured their HBP using an oscillometric device (an electronic device for measuring blood pressure). The researchers used information on fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular, cardiac, and cerebrovascular (stroke) events to calculate the hazard ratios (HRs, indicators of increased risk) associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic HBP across standard CBP categories. In participants with optimal CBP, an increase in systolic HBP of 10-mm Hg increased the risk of any cardiovascular event by nearly 30% (an HR of 1.28). Similar HRs were associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic HBP for all cardiovascular events among people with normal and high-normal CBP and with mild hypertension, but for people with severe hypertension, systolic HBP did not significantly add to the prediction of any end point. Among people with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP, 5%, 18.4%, and 30.4%, respectively, had a HBP of 130/85 or higher (“masked hypertension,” a higher blood pressure in daily life than in a clinical setting). Finally, compared to individuals with optimal CBP without masked hypertension, individuals with masked hypertension had more than double the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that HBP measurements, particularly in individuals with masked hypertension, refine risk stratification at CBP levels assumed to be associated with no or mildly elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. That is, HBP measurements can improve the prediction of cardiovascular complications or death among individuals with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP but not among individuals with severe hypertension. Clinical trials are needed to test whether the identification and treatment of masked hypertension leads to a reduction of cardiovascular complications and is cost-effective compared to the current standard of care, which does not include HBP measurements and does not treat people with normal or high-normal CBP. Until then, these findings provide support for including HBP monitoring in primary prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease among individuals at risk for masked hypertension (for example, people with diabetes), and for carrying out HBP monitoring in people with a normal CBP but unexplained signs of hypertensive target organ damage.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001591.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Mark Caulfield
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish) and a guide to lowering high blood pressure that includes personal stories
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure and on cardiovascular diseases (in several languages); it also provides personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension (including a personal story) and about cardiovascular disease
The World Health Organization provides information on cardiovascular disease and controlling blood pressure; its A Global Brief on Hypertension was published on World Health Day 2013
The UK charity Blood Pressure UK provides information about white-coat hypertension and about home blood pressure monitoring
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001591
PMCID: PMC3897370  PMID: 24465187
3.  The Influence of Health Systems on Hypertension Awareness, Treatment, and Control: A Systematic Literature Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001490.
Will Maimaris and colleagues systematically review the evidence that national or regional health systems, including place of care and medication co-pays, influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Hypertension (HT) affects an estimated one billion people worldwide, nearly three-quarters of whom live in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). In both developed and developing countries, only a minority of individuals with HT are adequately treated. The reasons are many but, as with other chronic diseases, they include weaknesses in health systems. We conducted a systematic review of the influence of national or regional health systems on HT awareness, treatment, and control.
Methods and Findings
Eligible studies were those that analyzed the impact of health systems arrangements at the regional or national level on HT awareness, treatment, control, or antihypertensive medication adherence. The following databases were searched on 13th May 2013: Medline, Embase, Global Health, LILACS, Africa-Wide Information, IMSEAR, IMEMR, and WPRIM. There were no date or language restrictions. Two authors independently assessed papers for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to substantial methodological heterogeneity in included studies. 53 studies were included, 11 of which were carried out in LMICs. Most studies evaluated health system financing and only four evaluated the effect of either human, physical, social, or intellectual resources on HT outcomes. Reduced medication co-payments were associated with improved HT control and treatment adherence, mainly evaluated in US settings. On balance, health insurance coverage was associated with improved outcomes of HT care in US settings. Having a routine place of care or physician was associated with improved HT care.
Conclusions
This review supports the minimization of medication co-payments in health insurance plans, and although studies were largely conducted in the US, the principle is likely to apply more generally. Studies that identify and analyze complexities and links between health systems arrangements and their effects on HT management are required, particularly in LMICs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, one billion people, three-quarters of whom were living in low- and middle-income countries, had high blood pressure (hypertension). Worldwide, hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, leads to about 7.5 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and kidney disease. Hypertension, selected by the World Health Organization as the theme for World Health Day 2013, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is contracts to pump blood out (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart relaxes and refills (diastolic blood pressure). Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mmHg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg). A blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 mmHg indicates hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty foods are at high risk of developing hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most individuals can achieve good hypertension control, which reduces death and disability from cardiovascular and kidney disease, by making lifestyle changes (mild hypertension) and/or by taking antihypertensive drugs. Yet, in both developed and developing countries, many people with hypertension are not aware of their condition and are not adequately treated. As with other chronic diseases, weaknesses in health care systems probably contribute to the inadequate treatment of hypertension. A health care system comprises all the organizations, institutions, and resources whose primary purpose is to improve health. Weaknesses in health care systems can exist at the national, regional, district, community, and household level. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers investigate how national and regional health care system arrangements influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control. Actions that might influence hypertension care at this level of health care systems include providing treatment for hypertension at no or reduced cost, the introduction of financial incentives to healthcare practitioners for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, and enhanced insurance coverage in countries such as the US where people pay for health care through insurance policies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 53 studies that analyzed whether regional or national health care systems arrangements were associated with patient awareness of hypertension, treatment of hypertension, adherence to antihypertensive medication treatment, and control of hypertension. The researchers used an established conceptual framework for health care systems and an approach called narrative synthesis to analyze the results of these studies, most of which were conducted in the US (36 studies) and other high-income countries (eight studies). Nearly all the studies evaluated the effects of health system financing on hypertension outcomes, although several looked at the effects of delivery and governance of health systems on these outcomes. The researchers' analysis revealed an association between reduced medication co-payments (drug costs that are not covered by health insurance and that are paid by patients in countries without universal free healthcare) and improved hypertension control and treatment adherence, mainly in US settings. In addition, in US settings, health insurance coverage was associated with improved hypertension outcomes, as was having a routine physician or place of care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that minimizing co-payments for health care and expansion of health insurance coverage in countries without universal free health care may improve the awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension. Although these findings are based mainly on US studies, they are likely to apply more generally but, importantly, these findings indicate that additional, high-quality studies are needed to unravel the impact of health systems arrangements on the management of hypertension. In particular, they reveal few studies in low- and middle-income countries where most of the global burden of hypertension lies and where weaknesses in health systems often result in deficiencies in the care of chronic diseases. Moreover, they highlight a need for studies that evaluate how aspects of health care systems other than financing (for example, delivery and governance mechanisms) and interactions between health care system arrangements affect hypertension outcomes. Without the results of such studies, governments and national and international organizations will not know the best ways to deal effectively with the global public-health crisis posed by hypertension.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure (in several languages) and personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension and a personal story about hypertension
The World Health Organization provides information on controlling blood pressure and on health systems (in several languages); its "A Global Brief on Hypertension" was published on World Health Day 2013
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490
PMCID: PMC3728036  PMID: 23935461
4.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 1. Methods and an overview of the Canadian recommendations. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations for health care professionals on lifestyle changes to prevent and control hypertension in otherwise healthy adults (except pregnant women). OPTIONS: For people at risk for hypertension, there are a number of lifestyle options that may avert the condition--maintaining a healthy body weight, moderating consumption of alcohol, exercising, reducing sodium intake, altering intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium, and reducing stress. Following these options will maintain or reduce the risk of hypertension. For people who already have hypertension, the options for controlling the condition are lifestyle modification, antihypertensive medications or a combination of these options; with no treatment, these people remain at risk for the complications of hypertension. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period January 1996 to September 1996 for each of the interventions studied. Reference lists were scanned, experts were polled, and the personal files of the authors were used to identify other studies. All relevant articles were reviewed, classified according to study design and graded according to level of evidence. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: Lifestyle modification by means of weight loss (or maintenance of healthy body weight), regular exercise and low alcohol consumption will reduce the blood pressure of appropriately selected normotensive and hypertensive people. Sodium restriction and stress management will reduce the blood pressure of appropriately selected hypertensive patients. The side effects of these therapies are few, and the indirect benefits are well known. There are certainly costs associated with lifestyle modification, but they were not measured in the studies reviewed. Supplementing the diet with potassium, calcium and magnesium has not been associated with a clinically important reduction in blood pressure in people consuming a healthy diet. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) It is recommended that health care professionals determine the body mass index (weight in kilograms/[height in metres]2) and alcohol consumption of all adult patients and assess sodium consumption and stress levels in all hypertensive patients. (2) To reduce blood pressure in the population at large, it is recommended that Canadians attain and maintain a healthy body mass index. For those who choose to drink alcohol intake should be limited to 2 or fewer standard drinks per day (maximum of 14/week for men and 9/week for women). Adults should exercise regularly. (3) To reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients, individualized therapy is recommended. This therapy should emphasize weight loss for overweight patients, abstinence from or moderation in alcohol intake, regular exercise, restriction of sodium intake and, in appropriate circumstances, individualized cognitive behaviour modification to reduce the negative effects of stress. VALIDATION: The recommendations were reviewed by all of the sponsoring organizations and by participants in a satellite symposium of the fourth international Conference on Preventive Cardiology. They are similar to those of the World Hypertension League and the Joint National committee, with the exception of the recommendations on stress management, which are based on new information. They have not been clinically tested. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC1230333  PMID: 10333847
5.  Heart Failure Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001699.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Kazem Rahimi and colleagues examine the burden of heart failure in low- and middle-income countries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Heart failure places a significant burden on patients and health systems in high-income countries. However, information about its burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is scant. We thus set out to review both published and unpublished information on the presentation, causes, management, and outcomes of heart failure in LMICs.
Methods and Findings
Medline, Embase, Global Health Database, and World Health Organization regional databases were searched for studies from LMICs published between 1 January 1995 and 30 March 2014. Additional unpublished data were requested from investigators and international heart failure experts. We identified 42 studies that provided relevant information on acute hospital care (25 LMICs; 232,550 patients) and 11 studies on the management of chronic heart failure in primary care or outpatient settings (14 LMICs; 5,358 patients). The mean age of patients studied ranged from 42 y in Cameroon and Ghana to 75 y in Argentina, and mean age in studies largely correlated with the human development index of the country in which they were conducted (r = 0.71, p<0.001). Overall, ischaemic heart disease was the main reported cause of heart failure in all regions except Africa and the Americas, where hypertension was predominant. Taking both those managed acutely in hospital and those in non-acute outpatient or community settings together, 57% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 49%–64%) of patients were treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, 34% (95% CI: 28%–41%) with beta-blockers, and 32% (95% CI: 25%–39%) with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. Mean inpatient stay was 10 d, ranging from 3 d in India to 23 d in China. Acute heart failure accounted for 2.2% (range: 0.3%–7.7%) of total hospital admissions, and mean in-hospital mortality was 8% (95% CI: 6%–10%). There was substantial variation between studies (p<0.001 across all variables), and most data were from urban tertiary referral centres. Only one population-based study assessing incidence and/or prevalence of heart failure was identified.
Conclusions
The presentation, underlying causes, management, and outcomes of heart failure vary substantially across LMICs. On average, the use of evidence-based medications tends to be suboptimal. Better strategies for heart failure surveillance and management in LMICs are needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
A healthy heart pumps about 23,000 liters of blood around the body every day. This blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body and carries carbon dioxide and waste products away from the tissues and organs. A healthy heart is therefore essential for life. Unfortunately, many people (particularly elderly people) develop heart failure, a life-threatening condition in which the heart no longer pumps enough blood to meet all the body's needs because it has become too weak or too stiff to work properly. Heart failure can affect the left, right, or both sides of the heart, and it can develop slowly (chronic heart failure) or quickly (acute heart failure). Its symptoms include swelling (edema) of the feet, ankles, and legs, tiredness, and shortness of breath. Heart failure, which is most commonly caused by coronary heart disease (blockage with fatty deposits of the blood vessels that supply the heart) or high blood pressure (hypertension), cannot be cured. However, lifestyle changes (for example, losing weight and avoiding salty food) and various medications can control heart failure and improve the quality of life of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
In high-income countries (HICs), heart failure is a common condition that typically consumes 1%–2% of healthcare resources. Experts believe that heart failure may soon become a major public health issue in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) because fewer people are dying of infectious diseases in these countries than in the past. LMICs need to plan for this eventuality, but little is known about the current burden of heart failure in LMICs. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished information on the presentation, causes, management, and outcomes of heart failure in LMICs. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis uses statistical approaches to combine the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 49 published studies and four unpublished databases that provided information on nearly 240,000 hospitalizations for acute and chronic heart failure in 31 LMICs. Across these LMICs, the average age of patients admitted to hospital for heart failure was 63 years, more than ten years younger than the average admission age in HICs. Differences in mean age at presentation, which ranged from 42 years in Cameroon and Ghana to 75 years in Argentina, largely correlated with the human development index (a measure of national well-being) of individual LMICs. Notably, acute heart failure accounted for 2.2% of all hospital admissions in the LMICs for which data were available. Hypertension was the main cause of heart failure in Africa and the Americas, whereas ischemic heart disease was the main cause in all other regions. More than two-thirds of patients were prescribed diuretics for heart failure, whereas only 57% of patients were treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, only 34% were treated with beta-blockers, and only 32% were treated with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists, the three treatments currently recommended in guidelines for managing heart failure. Finally, on average, patients admitted to hospital for heart failure in LMICs spent ten days in hospital, and 8.3% of them died in hospital (compared to 6.7% and 4% of similar patients across Europe and the US, respectively).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the presentation, causes, management, and outcomes of heart failure vary substantially across LMICs. Importantly, however, these findings reveal that heart failure is already a major burden in LMICs and that the use of recommended medications for heart failure is currently suboptimal in these countries. Because the studies included in this systematic review and meta-analysis set out to answer different research questions and used different methods to diagnose heart failure, the estimates of the burden of heart failure in LMICs provided here may not be completely accurate. Moreover, because the data were derived mainly from urban tertiary referral hospitals, these findings may not reflect the broader picture of heart failure in the community in LMICs. However, although additional studies are needed to completely assess the burden of heart failure in LMICs, the present findings nevertheless highlight the need to implement better strategies for the management of heart failure in LMICs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001699.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Druin Burch
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides information for patients about heart failure
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about all aspects of heart failure
The American Heart Association, a not-for-profit organization, also provides detailed information about heart failure for patients and their carers
The British Heart Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides additional information about heart failure, including a personal story about heart failure; further personal stories about heart failure are provided by the not-for-profit organization Healthtalkonline
Heart Failure Matters provides practical information about heart failure for patients, families, and caregivers in several languages; its website includes an animated journey through heart failure and several personal stories about the condition
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about heart failure (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001699
PMCID: PMC4130667  PMID: 25117081
6.  Associations between Potentially Modifiable Risk Factors and Alzheimer Disease: A Mendelian Randomization Study 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(6):e1001841.
Background
Potentially modifiable risk factors including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and smoking are associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and represent promising targets for intervention. However, the causality of these associations is unclear. We sought to assess the causal nature of these associations using Mendelian randomization (MR).
Methods and Findings
We used SNPs associated with each risk factor as instrumental variables in MR analyses. We considered type 2 diabetes (T2D, NSNPs = 49), fasting glucose (NSNPs = 36), insulin resistance (NSNPs = 10), body mass index (BMI, NSNPs = 32), total cholesterol (NSNPs = 73), HDL-cholesterol (NSNPs = 71), LDL-cholesterol (NSNPs = 57), triglycerides (NSNPs = 39), systolic blood pressure (SBP, NSNPs = 24), smoking initiation (NSNPs = 1), smoking quantity (NSNPs = 3), university completion (NSNPs = 2), and years of education (NSNPs = 1). We calculated MR estimates of associations between each exposure and AD risk using an inverse-variance weighted approach, with summary statistics of SNP–AD associations from the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project, comprising a total of 17,008 individuals with AD and 37,154 cognitively normal elderly controls. We found that genetically predicted higher SBP was associated with lower AD risk (odds ratio [OR] per standard deviation [15.4 mm Hg] of SBP [95% CI]: 0.75 [0.62–0.91]; p = 3.4 × 10−3). Genetically predicted higher SBP was also associated with a higher probability of taking antihypertensive medication (p = 6.7 × 10−8). Genetically predicted smoking quantity was associated with lower AD risk (OR per ten cigarettes per day [95% CI]: 0.67 [0.51–0.89]; p = 6.5 × 10−3), although we were unable to stratify by smoking history; genetically predicted smoking initiation was not associated with AD risk (OR = 0.70 [0.37, 1.33]; p = 0.28). We saw no evidence of causal associations between glycemic traits, T2D, BMI, or educational attainment and risk of AD (all p > 0.1). Potential limitations of this study include the small proportion of intermediate trait variance explained by genetic variants and other implicit limitations of MR analyses.
Conclusions
Inherited lifetime exposure to higher SBP is associated with lower AD risk. These findings suggest that higher blood pressure—or some environmental exposure associated with higher blood pressure, such as use of antihypertensive medications—may reduce AD risk.
Robert A. Scott and colleagues use genetic instruments to identify causal associations between known risk factors and Alzheimer's disease.
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, about 44 million people have dementia, a group of brain degeneration disorders characterized by an irreversible decline in memory, communication, and other “cognitive” functions. Dementia mainly affects older people, and because people are living longer, experts estimate that more than 135 million people will have dementia by 2050. The most common form of dementia, which accounts for 60%–70% of cases, is Alzheimer disease (AD). The earliest sign of AD is often increasing forgetfulness. As the disease progresses, affected individuals gradually lose the ability to look after themselves, they may become anxious or aggressive, and they may have difficulty recognizing friends and relatives. People with late stage disease may lose control of their bladder and of other physical functions. At present, there is no cure for AD, although some of its symptoms can be managed with drugs. Most people with AD are initially cared for at home by relatives and other caregivers, but many affected individuals end their days in a care home or specialist nursing home.
Why Was This Study Done?
Researchers are interested in identifying risk factors for AD, particularly modifiable risk factors, because if such risk factors exist, it might be possible to limit the predicted increase in future AD cases. Epidemiological studies (investigations that examine patterns of disease in populations) have identified several potential risk factors for AD, including hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, smoking, and dyslipidemia (changes in how the body handles fats). However, epidemiological studies cannot prove that a specific risk factor causes AD. For example, people with hypertension might share another characteristic that causes both hypertension and AD (confounding) or AD might cause hypertension (reverse causation). Information on causality is needed to decide which risk factors to target to help prevent AD. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether differences in several epidemiologically identified risk factors for AD have a causal impact on AD risk. In Mendelian randomization, causal associations are inferred from the effects of genetic variants (which predict levels of modifiable risk factors) on the outcome of interest. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. So, if hypertension actually causes AD, genetic variants that affect hypertension should be associated with an altered risk of AD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified causal associations between potentially modifiable risk factors and AD risk by analyzing the occurrence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, a type of gene variant) known to predict levels of each risk factor, in genetic data from 17,008 individuals with AD and 37,154 cognitively normal elderly controls collected by the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project. They report that genetically predicted higher systolic blood pressure (SBP; the pressure exerted on the inside of large blood vessels when the heart is pumping out blood) was associated with lower AD risk (and with a higher probability of taking antihypertensive medication). Predicted smoking quantity was also associated with lower AD risk, but there was no evidence of causal associations between any of the other risk factors investigated and AD risk.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In contrast to some epidemiological studies, these findings suggest that hypertension is associated with lower AD risk. However, because genetically predicted higher SBP was also associated with a higher probability of taking antihypertensive medication, it could be that exposure to such drugs, rather than having hypertension, reduces AD risk. Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of these findings depends on the validity of several assumptions made by the researchers and on the ability of the SNPs used in the analyses to explain variations in exposure to the various risk factors. Moreover, because all the participants in the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project are of European ancestry, these findings may not be valid for other ethnic groups. Given that hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the researchers do not advocate raising blood pressure as a measure to prevent AD (neither do they advocate that people smoke more cigarettes to lower AD risk). Rather, given the strong association between higher SBP gene scores and the probability of exposure to antihypertensive treatment, they suggest that the possibility that antihypertensive drugs might reduce AD risk independently of their effects on blood pressure should be investigated as a priority.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001841.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about Alzheimer disease
The UK not-for-profit organization Alzheimer’s Society provides information for patients and carers about dementia, including personal experiences of living with Alzheimer disease
The US not-for-profit organization Alzheimer’s Association also provides information for patients and carers about dementia and personal stories about dementia
Alzheimer’s Disease International is the federation of Alzheimer disease associations around the world; it provides links to individual Alzheimer associations, information about dementia, and links to world Alzheimer reports
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about Alzheimer disease (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
A PLOS Medicine Research Article by Proitsi et al. describes a Mendelian randomization study that looked for a causal association between dyslipidemia and Alzheimer disease
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001841
PMCID: PMC4469461  PMID: 26079503
7.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 3. Recommendations on alcohol consumption. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations concerning the effects of alcohol consumption on the prevention and control of hypertension in otherwise healthy adults (except pregnant women). OPTIONS: There are 2 main options for those at risk for hypertension: avert the condition by limiting alcohol consumption or by using other nonpharmacologic methods, or maintain or increase the risk of hypertension by making no change in alcohol consumption. The options for those who already have hypertension include decreasing alcohol consumption or using another nonpharmacologic method to reduce hypertension; commencing, continuing or intensifying antihypertensive medication; or taking no action and remaining at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period 1966-1996 with the terms ethyl alcohol and hypertension. Other relevant evidence was obtained from the reference lists of articles identified, from the personal files of the authors and through contacts with experts. The articles were reviewed, classified according to study design, and graded according to the level of evidence. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: A reduction in alcohol consumption from more than 2 standard drinks per day reduces the blood pressure of both hypertensive and normotensive people. The lowest overall mortality rates in observational studies were associated with drinking habits that were within these guidelines. Side effects and costs were not measured in any of the studies. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) It is recommended that health care professionals determine how much alcohol their patients consume. (2) To reduce blood pressure in the population at large, it is recommended that alcohol consumption be in accordance with Canadian low-risk drinking guidelines (i.e., healthy adults who choose to drink should limit alcohol consumption to 2 or fewer standard drinks per day, with consumption not exceeding 14 standard drinks per week for men and 9 standard drinks per week for women). (3) Hypertensive patients should also be advised to limit alcohol consumption to the levels set out in the Canadian low-risk drinking guidelines. VALIDATION: These recommendations are similar to those of the World Hypertension League, the National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group on Primary Prevention of Hypertension and the previous recommendations of the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control and the Canadian Hypertension Society. They have not been clinically tested. The low-risk drinking guidelines are those of the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The low-risk drinking guidelines have been endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and several provincial organizations.
PMCID: PMC1230335  PMID: 10333849
8.  Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2011 Update 
Circulation  2010;123(4):e18-e209.
Summary
Each year, the American Heart Association (AHA), in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies, brings together the most up-to-date statistics on heart disease, stroke, other vascular diseases, and their risk factors and presents them in its Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update. The Statistical Update is a valuable resource for researchers, clinicians, healthcare policy makers, media professionals, the lay public, and many others who seek the best national data available on disease morbidity and mortality and the risks, quality of care, medical procedures and operations, and costs associated with the management of these diseases in a single document. Indeed, since 1999, the Statistical Update has been cited more than 8700 times in the literature (including citations of all annual versions). In 2009 alone, the various Statistical Updates were cited ≈1600 times (data from ISI Web of Science). In recent years, the Statistical Update has undergone some major changes with the addition of new chapters and major updates across multiple areas. For this year’s edition, the Statistics Committee, which produces the document for the AHA, updated all of the current chapters with the most recent nationally representative data and inclusion of relevant articles from the literature over the past year and added a new chapter detailing how family history and genetics play a role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Also, the 2011 Statistical Update is a major source for monitoring both cardiovascular health and disease in the population, with a focus on progress toward achievement of the AHA’s 2020 Impact Goals. Below are a few highlights from this year’s Update.
Death Rates From CVD Have Declined, Yet the Burden of Disease Remains High
The 2007 overall death rate from CVD (International Classification of Diseases 10, I00–I99) was 251.2 per 100 000. The rates were 294.0 per 100 000 for white males, 405.9 per 100 000 for black males, 205.7 per 100 000 for white females, and 286.1 per 100 000 for black females. From 1997 to 2007, the death rate from CVD declined 27.8%. Mortality data for 2007 show that CVD (I00–I99; Q20–Q28) accounted for 33.6% (813 804) of all 2 243 712 deaths in 2007, or 1 of every 2.9 deaths in the United States.
On the basis of 2007 mortality rate data, more than 2200 Americans die of CVD each day, an average of 1 death every 39 seconds. More than 150 000 Americans killed by CVD (I00–I99) in 2007 were <65 years of age. In 2007, nearly 33% of deaths due to CVD occurred before the age of 75 years, which is well before the average life expectancy of 77.9 years.
Coronary heart disease caused ≈1 of every 6 deaths in the United States in 2007. Coronary heart disease mortality in 2007 was 406 351. Each year, an estimated 785 000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and ≈470 000 will have a recurrent attack. It is estimated that an additional 195 000 silent first myocardial infarctions occur each year. Approximately every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and approximately every minute, someone will die of one.
Each year, ≈795 000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 610 000 of these are first attacks, and 185 000 are recurrent attacks. Mortality data from 2007 indicate that stroke accounted for ≈1 of every 18 deaths in the United States. On average, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. From 1997 to 2007, the stroke death rate fell 44.8%, and the actual number of stroke deaths declined 14.7%.
In 2007, 1 in 9 death certificates (277 193 deaths) in the United States mentioned heart failure.
Prevalence and Control of Traditional Risk Factors Remains an Issue for Many Americans
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2008 indicate that 33.5% of US adults ≥20 years of age have hypertension (Table 7-1). This amounts to an estimated 76 400 000 US adults with hypertension. The prevalence of hypertension is nearly equal between men and women. African American adults have among the highest rates of hypertension in the world, at 44%. Among hypertensive adults, ≈80% are aware of their condition, 71% are using antihypertensive medication, and only 48% of those aware that they have hypertension have their condition controlled.
Despite 4 decades of progress, in 2008, among Americans ≥18 years of age, 23.1% of men and 18.3% of women continued to be cigarette smokers. In 2009, 19.5% of students in grades 9 through 12 reported current tobacco use. The percentage of the nonsmoking population with detectable serum cotinine (indicating exposure to secondhand smoke) was 46.4% in 1999 to 2004, with declines occurring, and was highest for those 4 to 11 years of age (60.5%) and those 12 to 19 years of age (55.4%).
An estimated 33 600 000 adults ≥20 years of age have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL, with a prevalence of 15.0% (Table 13-1).
In 2008, an estimated 18 300 000 Americans had diagnosed diabetes mellitus, representing 8.0% of the adult population. An additional 7 100 000 had undiagnosed diabetes mellitus, and 36.8% had prediabetes, with abnormal fasting glucose levels. African Americans, Mexican Americans, Hispanic/Latino individuals, and other ethnic minorities bear a strikingly disproportionate burden of diabetes mellitus in the United States (Table 16-1).
The 2011 Update Expands Data Coverage of the Obesity Epidemic and Its Antecedents and Consequences
The estimated prevalence of overweight and obesity in US adults (≥20 years of age) is 149 300 000, which represents 67.3% of this group in 2008. Fully 33.7% of US adults are obese (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2). Men and women of all race/ethnic groups in the population are affected by the epidemic of overweight and obesity (Table 15-1).
Among children 2 to 19 years of age, 31.9% are overweight and obese (which represents 23 500 000 children), and 16.3% are obese (12 000 000 children). Mexican American boys and girls and African American girls are disproportionately affected. Over the past 3 decades, the prevalence of obesity in children 6 to 11 years of age has increased from ≈4% to more than 20%.
Obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2) is associated with marked excess mortality in the US population. Even more notable is the excess morbidity associated with overweight and obesity in terms of risk factor development and incidence of diabetes mellitus, CVD end points (including coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure), and numerous other health conditions, including asthma, cancer, degenerative joint disease, and many others.
The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is increasing dramatically over time, in parallel with the increases in prevalence of overweight and obesity.
On the basis of NHANES 2003–2006 data, the age-adjusted prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of major cardiovascular risk factors related to overweight/obesity and insulin resistance, is 34% (35.1% among men and 32.6% among women).
The proportion of youth (≤18 years of age) who report engaging in no regular physical activity is high, and the proportion increases with age. In 2007, among adolescents in grades 9 through 12, 29.9% of girls and 17.0% of boys reported that they had not engaged in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, defined as any activity that increased heart rate or breathing rate, even once in the previous 7 days, despite recommendations that children engage in such activity ≥5 days per week.
Thirty-six percent of adults reported engaging in no vigorous activity (activity that causes heavy sweating and a large increase in breathing or heart rate).
Data from NHANES indicate that between 1971 and 2004, average total energy consumption among US adults increased by 22% in women (from 1542 to 1886 kcal/d) and by 10% in men (from 2450 to 2693 kcal/d; see Chart 19-1).
The increases in calories consumed during this time period are attributable primarily to greater average carbohydrate intake, in particular, of starches, refined grains, and sugars. Other specific changes related to increased caloric intake in the United States include larger portion sizes, greater food quantity and calories per meal, and increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, snacks, commercially prepared (especially fast food) meals, and higher energy-density foods.
The 2011 Update Provides Critical Data Regarding Cardiovascular Quality of Care, Procedure Utilization, and Costs
In light of the current national focus on healthcare utilization, costs, and quality, it is critical to monitor and understand the magnitude of healthcare delivery and costs, as well as the quality of healthcare delivery, related to CVDs. The Update provides these critical data in several sections.
Quality-of-Care Metrics for CVDs
Chapter 20 reviews many metrics related to the quality of care delivered to patients with CVDs, as well as healthcare disparities. In particular, quality data are available from the AHA’s “Get With The Guidelines” programs for coronary artery disease and heart failure and the American Stroke Association/ AHA’s “Get With the Guidelines” program for acute stroke. Similar data from the Veterans Healthcare Administration, national Medicare and Medicaid data and National Cardiovascular Data Registry Acute Coronary Treatment and Intervention Outcomes Network - “Get With The Guidelines” Registry data are also reviewed. These data show impressive adherence with guideline recommendations for many, but not all, metrics of quality of care for these hospitalized patients. Data are also reviewed on screening for cardiovascular risk factor levels and control.
Cardiovascular Procedure Utilization and Costs
Chapter 21 provides data on trends and current usage of cardiovascular surgical and invasive procedures. For example, the total number of inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures increased 27%, from 5 382 000 in 1997 to 6 846 000 in 2007 (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute computation based on National Center for Health Statistics annual data).
Chapter 22 reviews current estimates of direct and indirect healthcare costs related to CVDs, stroke, and related conditions using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data. The total direct and indirect cost of CVD and stroke in the United States for 2007 is estimated to be $286 billion. This figure includes health expenditures (direct costs, which include the cost of physicians and other professionals, hospital services, prescribed medications, home health care, and other medical durables) and lost productivity resulting from mortality (indirect costs). By comparison, in 2008, the estimated cost of all cancer and benign neoplasms was $228 billion ($93 billion in direct costs, $19 billion in morbidity indirect costs, and $116 billion in mortality indirect costs). CVD costs more than any other diagnostic group.
The AHA, through its Statistics Committee, continuously monitors and evaluates sources of data on heart disease and stroke in the United States to provide the most current data available in the Statistics Update. The 2007 mortality data have been released. More information can be found at the National Center for Health Statistics Web site, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_01.pdf.
Finally, it must be noted that this annual Statistical Update is the product of an entire year’s worth of effort by dedicated professionals, volunteer physicians and scientists, and outstanding AHA staff members, without whom publication of this valuable resource would be impossible. Their contributions are gratefully acknowledged. Véronique L. Roger, MD, MPH, FAHAMelanie B. Turner, MPHOn behalf of the American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Writing Group
Note: Population data used in the compilation of NHANES prevalence estimates is for the latest year of the NHANES survey being used. Extrapolations for NHANES prevalence estimates are based on the census resident population for 2008 because this is the most recent year of NHANES data used in the Statistical Update.
doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e3182009701
PMCID: PMC4418670  PMID: 21160056
AHA Statistical Update; cardiovascular diseases; epidemiology; risk factors; statistics; stroke
9.  Effects of Intensive Blood Pressure Lowering on Cardiovascular and Renal Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001293.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis Vlado Perkovic and colleagues investigate whether more intensive blood pressure lowering regimens are associated with greater reductions in the risk of major cardiovascular events and end stage kidney disease.
Background
Guidelines recommend intensive blood pressure (BP) lowering in patients at high risk. While placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated 22% reductions in coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke associated with a 10-mmHg difference in systolic BP, it is unclear if more intensive BP lowering strategies are associated with greater reductions in risk of CHD and stroke. We did a systematic review to assess the effects of intensive BP lowering on vascular, eye, and renal outcomes.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library for trials published between 1950 and July 2011. We included trials that randomly assigned individuals to different target BP levels.
We identified 15 trials including a total of 37,348 participants. On average there was a 7.5/4.5-mmHg BP difference. Intensive BP lowering achieved relative risk (RR) reductions of 11% for major cardiovascular events (95% CI 1%–21%), 13% for myocardial infarction (0%–25%), 24% for stroke (8%–37%), and 11% for end stage kidney disease (3%–18%). Intensive BP lowering regimens also produced a 10% reduction in the risk of albuminuria (4%–16%), and a trend towards benefit for retinopathy (19%, 0%–34%, p = 0.051) in patients with diabetes. There was no clear effect on cardiovascular or noncardiovascular death. Intensive BP lowering was well tolerated; with serious adverse events uncommon and not significantly increased, except for hypotension (RR 4.16, 95% CI 2.25 to 7.70), which occurred infrequently (0.4% per 100 person-years).
Conclusions
Intensive BP lowering regimens provided greater vascular protection than standard regimens that was proportional to the achieved difference in systolic BP, but did not have any clear impact on the risk of death or serious adverse events. Further trials are required to more clearly define the risks and benefits of BP targets below those currently recommended, given the benefits suggested by the currently available data.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
About a third of US and UK adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). Although hypertension has no obvious symptoms, it can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and other forms of cardiovascular disease, to kidney failure, and to retinopathy (blindness caused by damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye). Hypertension is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure (BP)—the force that blood moving around the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. BP is highest when the heart is pumping out blood (systolic BP) and lowest when it is refilling with blood (diastolic BP). A normal adult BP is defined as a systolic BP of less than 130 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic BP of less than 85 mmHg (a BP of 130/85). A reading of more than 140/90 indicates hypertension. Many factors affect BP, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Mild hypertension can be corrected by making lifestyle changes, but people often take antihypertensive drugs to reduce their BP.
Why Was This Study Done?
Doctors usually try to reduce the BP of their hypertensive patients to 140/90 mmHg. However, some treatment guidelines now advocate a target BP of 130/80 mmHg for individuals at high risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events, such as people with diabetes or kidney impairment. But does more intensive BP lowering actually reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke? Although placebo-controlled randomized trials of BP lowering have suggested that a 10 mmHg fall in systolic BP is associated with a 22% reduction in the risk in coronary heart disease and a 41% reduction in the risk of stroke, it is unclear whether intensive BP lowering strategies are associated with greater reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease than standard strategies. In this systematic review (a search that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of studies), the researchers investigate the effects of intensive BP lowering on cardiovascular, eye, and renal outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 randomized controlled trials in which more than 37,000 participants were randomly assigned to antihypertensive drug-based strategies designed to achieve different target BPs. On average, the more intensive strategies reduced the BP of participants by 7.5/4.5 mmHg more than the less intensive strategies. Compared to standard BP lowering strategies, more intensive BP lowering strategies reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events (a composite endpoint comprising heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and cardiovascular death) by 11%, the risk of heart attack by 13%, the risk of stroke by 24%, the risk of end-stage kidney disease by 11%, and the risk of albuminuria (protein in the urine, a sign of kidney damage) by 10%. There was also a trend towards a reduced risk for retinopathy with more intensive BP lowering but no clear reduction in cardiovascular or noncardiovascular deaths. Finally, aiming for a lower BP target did not increase the rate of drug discontinuation or the risk of serious adverse events apart from hypotension (very low BP).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, although intensive BP lowering regimens have no clear effect on the risk of death, they may provide greater protection against cardiovascular events than standard BP lowering regimens. Indeed, the researchers calculate that among every thousand hypertensive patients with a high cardiovascular risk, more intensive BP lowering could prevent two of the 20 cardiovascular events expected to happen every year. Although intensive BP lowering did not seem to increase the risk of severe adverse effects, the accuracy of this finding is limited by inconsistent reporting of adverse events in the trials included in this study. Moreover, because most of the trial participants had additional risk factors for cardiovascular events such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease, these findings may not be generalizable to people with hypertension alone. Thus, although this study suggests that a target BP of 130/80 is likely to produce an additional overall benefit compared to a target of 140/90, more trials are needed to confirm this conclusion and to determine the best way to reach the lower target.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001293.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure and on cardiovascular diseases (in several languages); it also provides personal stories from people dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website also provides detailed information for patients about hypertension, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease; the NHS Local website has a collection of personal stories about hypertension and a series of films that explain hypertension
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001293
PMCID: PMC3424246  PMID: 22927798
10.  Socioeconomic characteristics and controlled hypertension: Evidence from Isfahan Healthy Heart Program 
ARYA Atherosclerosis  2013;9(1):77-81.
BACKGROUND
Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. It affects approximately 18.0% of Iranian adults. This study aimed to estimate age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension and its control among Iranian persons older 19 years of age. It also tried to find and socioeconomic factors associated with hypertension control in Iranian population.
METHODS
In Isfahan Healthy Heart Program (IHHP) subjects were selected by multistage random sampling. The participants completed questionnaires containing demographic information, lifestyle habits, medical history, and consumption of relevant medications, especially antihypertensive agents. Income, marital status, and educational level were considered as socioeconomic factors. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg, or taking antihypertensive medications. Controlled hypertension was considered as systolic blood pressure < 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg among hypertensive subjects.
RESULTS
The prevalence of hypertension and controlled hypertension was 18.9% and 20.9%, respectively. We found significant relationships between hypertension and marital status, education, and income. At age ≥ 65 years old, odds ratio (OR) was 19.09 [95% confidence interval (CI): 15.01-24.28] for hypertension. Middle family income (OR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.58-0.87) and education level of 6-12 years (OR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.25-0.35) were significantly associated with increased risk of hypertension (P = 0.001). Among subjects aging 65 years old or higher, the OR of controlled hypertension was 2.64 (95% CI: 1.61-4.33). Married subjects had a higher OR for controlled hypertension (OR: 2.19; 95% CI: 1.36-3.52). Obesity had no significant relationships with controlled hypertension.
CONCLUSION
The IHHP data showed significant relationships between some socioeconomic factors and controlled hypertension. Therefore, as current control rates for hypertension in Iran are clearly unacceptable, we recommend preventive measures to control hypertension in all social strata of the Iranian population.
PMCID: PMC3653252  PMID: 23696763
Socioeconomic Factor; High Blood Pressure; Control
11.  Risk factors of atherosclerosis in male smokers, passive smokers, and hypertensive nonsmokers in central Iran 
ARYA Atherosclerosis  2012;8(2):90-95.
BACKGROUND
Some studies showed that smoking follows an upward trend in Asian countries as compared with other countries. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of cigarette smoking on cardiovascular diseases and risk factors of atherosclerosis in patients with hypertension.
METHODS
This study was conducted on 6123 men residing in central Iran (Isfahan and Markazi Provinces) that participated in Isfahan Healthy Heart Project (IHHP). Subjects were randomly selected using cluster sampling method. All the subjects were studied in terms of their history of cardiovascular disease, demographic characteristics, smoking, blood pressure, physical examination, pulse rate, respiratory rate, weight, height, waist circumference, and blood measurements including LDL-C, HDL-C, total cholesterol, triglyceride, fasting blood sugar and 2-hour post prandial test.
RESULTS
While 893 subjects suffered from hypertension, 5230 subjects were healthy. The hypertension prevalence was 2.5 times more in urban areas compared to rural areas that showed a significant difference as it increased to 3.5 times smoking factor was considered. The prevalence of risk factors of atherosclerosis and also cardiovascular complications in patients with hypertension were significantly higher than healthy people. Furthermore, they were higher in smokers with hypertension and those exposed to the cigarette smoke than nonsmokers.
CONCLUSION
Smoking and passive smoking had an increasing effect on the prevalence of risk factors of atherosclerosis and consequently the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in patients with hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3463995  PMID: 23056110
Hypertension; Cigarette Smoking; Cardiovascular Disease; Risk Factor
12.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 5. Recommendations on dietary salt. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations concerning the effects of dietary salt intake on the prevention and control of hypertension in adults (except pregnant women). The guidelines are intended for use in clinical practice and public education campaigns. OPTIONS: Restriction of dietary salt intake may be an alternative to antihypertensive medications or may supplement such medications. Other options include other nonpharmacologic treatments for hypertension and no treatment. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period 1966-1996 using the terms hypertension, blood pressure, vascular resistance, sodium chloride, sodium, diet, sodium or sodium chloride dietary, sodium restricted/reducing diet, clinical trials, controlled clinical trial, randomized controlled trial and random allocation. Both trials and review articles were obtained, and other relevant evidence was obtained from the reference lists of the articles identified, from the personal files of the authors and through contacts with experts. The articles were reviewed, classified according to study design and graded according to level of evidence. In addition, a systematic review of all published randomized controlled trials relating to dietary salt intake and hypertension was conducted. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: For normotensive people, a marked change in sodium intake is required to achieve a modest reduction in blood pressure (there is a decrease of 1 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure for every 100 mmol decrease in daily sodium intake). For hypertensive patients, the effects of dietary salt restriction are most pronounced if age is greater than 44 years. A decrease of 6.3 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 2.2 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure per 100 mmol decrease in daily sodium intake was observed in people of this age group. For hypertensive patients 44 years of age and younger, the decreases were 2.4 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and negligible for diastolic blood pressure. A diet in which salt is moderately restricted appears not to be associated with health risks. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) Restriction of salt intake for the normotensive population is not recommended at present, because of insufficient evidence demonstrating that this would lead to a reduced incidence of hypertension. (2) To avoid excessive intake of salt, people should be counselled to choose foods low in salt (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables), to avoid foods high in salt (e.g., pre-prepared foods), to refrain from adding salt at the table and minimize the amount of salt used in cooking, and to increase awareness of the salt content of food choices in restaurants. (3) For hypertensive patients, particularly those over the age of 44 years, it is recommended that the intake of dietary sodium be moderately restricted, to a target range of 90-130 mmol per day (which corresponds to 3-7 g of salt per day). (4) The salt consumption of hypertensive patients should be determined by interview. VALIDATION: These recommendations were reviewed by all of the sponsoring organizations and by participants in a satellite symposium of the fourth International Conference on Preventive Cardiology. They have not been clinically tested. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC1230337  PMID: 10333851
13.  Self-reported knowledge and awareness about blood pressure and hypertension: a cross-sectional study of a random sample of men and women aged 60–74 years 
Clinical Epidemiology  2014;6:81-87.
Background
In general, it is assumed that patient education, by increasing knowledge, may change behavior and lifestyle and promote health. In this context, it is a surprise that knowledge and awareness about blood pressure and hypertension among elderly people is poor. We hypothesized that knowledge about blood pressure and hypertension would be better among individuals with self-reported hypertension compared with subjects without self-reported hypertension.
Methods
We mailed a questionnaire to a random sample of 1,000 subjects living in the municipality of Silkeborg, Denmark. The study sample was drawn from the Central Person Registry.
Results
The response rate was 72%. Of these, 43% of responders had self-reported hypertension. The people with self-reported hypertension were older, less educated, had higher self-reported blood cholesterol levels, had higher body weight, and more often had a family history of hypertension. More than 80% reported that overweight and obesity increases blood pressure. More than 60% reported that untreated hypertension may cause heart disease or stroke. More than half of the responders did not know their blood pressure, and only 21% knew that hypertension can occur without symptoms. Knowledge about hypertension was independent of self-reported hypertension status, but awareness about blood pressure was most prominent among those with self-reported hypertension.
Conclusion
General knowledge about blood pressure and hypertension was reasonable, but there is still room for improvement in elderly people’s knowledge and awareness of blood pressure.
doi:10.2147/CLEP.S53706
PMCID: PMC3933349  PMID: 24600247
self-reported hypertension; questionnaire; elderly; blood pressure
14.  Survival with Treated and Well-Controlled Blood Pressure: Findings from a Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e17792.
Aim
To compare survival and incident cardiovascular disease between normotensive, untreated hypertensive, treated and poorly-controlled hypertensive and treated and well-controlled hypertensive adults.
Methods and Results
Data from the British Regional Heart Study (men) and British Women's Heart and Health Study (women) were used (N = 6476). Blood pressure and treatment were assessed at baseline (1998–2001) when participants were aged 60–79 years and participants were followed up for a median of 8 years. Date and cause of death were obtained from death certificates and non-fatal cardiovascular disease events were obtained from repeat detailed medical record reviews. Of the whole cohort 52% of women and 49% of men had untreated hypertension and a further 22% and 18%, respectively, had poorly treated hypertension. Just 3% of women and 4% of men had treated and well controlled hypertension and 23% and 29%, respectively, were normotensive. Compared to normotensive individuals, incident cardiovascular disease (fatal and non-fatal) was increased in those with poorly-controlled hypertension (Hazard Ratio (HR): 1.88; 95%CI: 1.53, 2.30), those with untreated hypertension (HR 1.46; 95%CI 1.22, 1.75) and those who were well-controlled hypertension (HR 1.38; 95%CI 0.94, 2.03). Adjustment for baseline differences in mean blood pressure between the groups resulted in attenuation of the increased risk in the poorly-controlled (1.52 (1.18, 1.97) and untreated groups (1.21 (0.97, 1.52), but did not change the association in the well-controlled group. All-cause mortality was also increased in all three hypertension groups but estimates were imprecise with wide confidence intervals.
Conclusions
Half of women and men aged 60–79 in Britain had untreated hypertension and only a very small proportion of those with diagnosed and treated hypertension were well controlled. Those with hypertension, irrespective of whether this was treated and controlled or not, were at greater risk of future cardiovascular disease than those who are normotensive.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017792
PMCID: PMC3076376  PMID: 21533232
15.  Reduced Glomerular Filtration Rate and Its Association with Clinical Outcome in Older Patients at Risk of Vascular Events: Secondary Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000016.
Background
Reduced glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is associated with increased cardiovascular risk in young and middle aged individuals. Associations with cardiovascular disease and mortality in older people are less clearly established. We aimed to determine the predictive value of the GFR for mortality and morbidity using data from the 5,804 participants randomized in the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER).
Methods and Findings
Glomerular filtration rate was estimated (eGFR) using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease equation and was categorized in the ranges ([20–40], [40–50], [50–60]) ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73 m2. Baseline risk factors were analysed by category of eGFR, with and without adjustment for other risk factors. The associations between baseline eGFR and morbidity and mortality outcomes, accrued after an average of 3.2 y, were investigated using Cox proportional hazard models adjusting for traditional risk factors. We tested for evidence of an interaction between the benefit of statin treatment and baseline eGFR status. Age, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, C-reactive protein (CRP), body mass index, fasting glucose, female sex, histories of hypertension and vascular disease were associated with eGFR (p = 0.001 or less) after adjustment for other risk factors. Low eGFR was independently associated with risk of all cause mortality, vascular mortality, and other noncancer mortality and with fatal and nonfatal coronary and heart failure events (hazard ratios adjusted for CRP and other risk factors (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) for eGFR < 40 ml/min/1.73m2 relative to eGFR ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73m2 respectively 2.04 (1.48–2.80), 2.37 (1.53–3.67), 3.52 (1.78–6.96), 1.64 (1.18–2.27), 3.31 (2.03–5.41). There were no nominally statistically significant interactions (p < 0.05) between randomized treatment allocation and eGFR for clinical outcomes, with the exception of the outcome of coronary heart disease death or nonfatal myocardial infarction (p = 0.021), with the interaction suggesting increased benefit of statin treatment in subjects with impaired GFRs.
Conclusions
We have established that, in an elderly population over the age of 70 y, impaired GFR is associated with female sex, with presence of vascular disease, and with levels of other risk factors that would be associated with increased risk of vascular disease. Further, impaired GFR is independently associated with significant levels of increased risk of all cause mortality and fatal vascular events and with composite fatal and nonfatal coronary and heart failure outcomes. Our analyses of the benefits of statin treatment in relation to baseline GFR suggest that there is no reason to exclude elderly patients with impaired renal function from treatment with a statin.
Using data from the PROSPER trial, Ian Ford and colleagues investigate whether reduced glomerular filtration rate is associated with cardiovascular and mortality risk among elderly people.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a common cause of death in developed countries. In the USA, for example, the single leading cause of death is coronary heart disease, a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels slows or stops the blood supply to the heart and eventually causes a heart attack. Other types of CVD include stroke (in which narrowing of the blood vessels interrupts the brain's blood supply) and heart failure (a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body). Many factors increase the risk of developing CVD, including high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood cholesterol, having diabetes, smoking, and being overweight. Tools such as the “Framingham risk calculator” assess an individual's overall CVD risk by taking these and other risk factors into account. CVD risk can be minimized by taking drugs to reduce blood pressure or cholesterol levels (for example, pravastatin) and by making lifestyle changes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Another potential risk factor for CVD is impaired kidney (renal) function. In healthy people, the kidneys filter waste products and excess fluid out of the blood. A reduced “estimated glomerular filtration rate” (eGFR), which indicates impaired renal function, is associated with increased CVD in young and middle-aged people and increased all-cause and cardiovascular death in people who have vascular disease. But is reduced eGFR also associated with CVD and death in older people? If it is, it would be worth encouraging elderly people with reduced eGFR to avoid other CVD risk factors. In this study, the researchers determine the predictive value of eGFR for all-cause and vascular mortality (deaths caused by CVD) and for incident vascular events (a first heart attack, stroke, or heart failure) using data from the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER). This clinical trial examined pravastatin's effects on CVD development among 70–82 year olds with pre-existing vascular disease or an increased risk of CVD because of smoking, hypertension, or diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The trial participants were divided into four groups based on their eGFR at the start of the study. The researchers then investigated the association between baseline CVD risk factors and baseline eGFR and between baseline eGFR and vascular events and deaths that occurred during the 3-year study. Several established CVD risk factors were associated with a reduced eGFR after allowing for other risk factors. In addition, people with a low eGFR (between 20 and 40 units) were twice as likely to die from any cause as people with an eGFR above 60 units (the normal eGFR for a young person is 100 units; eGFR decreases with age) and more than three times as likely to have nonfatal coronary heart disease or heart failure. A low eGFR also increased the risk of vascular mortality, other noncancer deaths, and fatal coronary heart disease and heart failure. Finally, pravastatin treatment reduced coronary heart disease deaths and nonfatal heart attacks most effectively among participants with the greatest degree of eGFR impairment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, in elderly people, impaired renal function is associated with levels of established CVD risk factors that increase the risk of vascular disease. They also suggest that impaired kidney function increases the risk of all-cause mortality, fatal vascular events, and fatal and nonfatal coronary heat disease and heart failure. Because the study participants were carefully chosen for inclusion in PROSPER, these findings may not be generalizable to all elderly people with vascular disease or vascular disease risk factors. Nevertheless, increased efforts should probably be made to encourage elderly people with reduced eGFR and other vascular risk factors to make lifestyle changes to reduce their overall CVD risk. Finally, although the effect of statins in elderly patients with renal dysfunction needs to be examined further, these findings suggest that this group of patients should benefit at least as much from statins as elderly patients with healthy kidneys.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000016.
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on heart disease, vascular disease, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on how the kidneys work and what can go wrong with them, including a list of links to further information about kidney disease
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease for patients, caregivers, and professionals (in several languages)
More information about PROSPER is available on the Web site of the Vascular Biochemistry Department of the University of Glasgow
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000016
PMCID: PMC2628400  PMID: 19166266
16.  Quality of life in peptic ulcer patients referring to Al-Zahra hospital of Isfahan, Iran 
Aim
The purpose of this study was to determine quality of life in peptic ulcer patients referring to Al-Zahra hospital of Isfahan.
Background
Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is one of the most prevalent diseases. Its prevalence is 6-15% and about 10% of people experience its symptom in their life. PUD can have a considerable impact on patients’ quality of life (QOL).
Patients and methods
This descriptive- analytic survey was done on 93 randomly patients referred to Al-Zahra hospital of Isfahan city in Iran. Data gathering was done via questionnaire including five domains: physical, psychological, social, behavioral and economical. For data analysis, t-test, Pearson correlation and ANOVA test were used.
Results
93 patients with mean age of 38.54 years, including 43 (46.2%) women and 54 (53.8%) men, were studied. There was a negative significant between quality of life and age and between disease duration and psychological, economical domains and between the mean of QOL scores in physical and social domains with the number of cigarette per day, also there was significant relation between social domain and gender, and physical, psychological and behavioral domains with marital status; Physical, social domains with smoking. Also there was a negative significant between physical, social and behavioral domains with years of smoking.
Conclusion
Study results showed that quality of life is in a relatively good level among patients, thus some diseases such as peptic ulcer can effect on quality of life. So, treatment and prevention of these diseases may improve their quality of life.
PMCID: PMC4017537  PMID: 24834294
Quality of life; Peptic ulcer; Patients
17.  Modifiable Etiological Factors and the Burden of Stroke from the Rotterdam Study: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001634.
Using data from the Rotterdam study, Michiel Bos and colleagues estimate the proportion of strokes that are attributable to established modifiable etiological factors for stroke.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Stroke prevention requires effective treatment of its causes. Many etiological factors for stroke have been identified, but the potential gain of effective intervention on these factors in terms of numbers of actually prevented strokes remains unclear because of the lack of data from cohort studies. We assessed the impact of currently known potentially modifiable etiological factors on the occurrence of stroke.
Methods and Findings
This population-based cohort study was based on 6,844 participants of the Rotterdam Study who were aged ≥55 y and free from stroke at baseline (1990–1993). We computed population attributable risks (PARs) for individual risk factors and for risk factors in combination to estimate the proportion of strokes that could theoretically be prevented by the elimination of etiological factors from the population.
The mean age at baseline was 69.4 y (standard deviation 6.3 y). During follow-up (mean follow-up 12.9 y, standard deviation 6.3 y), 1,020 strokes occurred. The age- and sex-adjusted combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation, coronary disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 (95% CI 0.41–0.62) for any stroke; hypertension and smoking were the most important etiological factors. C-reactive protein, fruit and vegetable consumption, and carotid intima-media thickness in combination raised the total PAR by 0.06. The PAR was 0.55 (95% CI 0.41–0.68) for ischemic stroke and 0.70 (95% CI 0.45–0.87) for hemorrhagic stroke.
The main limitations of our study are that our study population comprises almost exclusively Caucasians who live in a middle and high income area, and that risk factor awareness is higher in a study cohort than in the general population.
Conclusions
About half of all strokes are attributable to established causal and modifiable factors. This finding encourages not only intervention on established etiological factors, but also further study of less well established factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people worldwide have a stroke. About 6 million of these people die within hours, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help overcome the disabilities caused by stroke, and various drugs alongside behavioral counselling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Fifty years ago, it was discovered that treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension) reduces the risk of stroke among people with severe hypertension. This discovery led researchers to search for other potentially modifiable etiological factors for stroke (risk factors that cause stroke). The list of established etiological factors now includes smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), heart disease, and overweight/obesity, in addition to hypertension. But how many strokes would modification of these causal risk factors prevent? In this population-based cohort study, the researchers calculate the individual and combined population attributable risks (PARs) for these established etiological factors to provide an estimate of what proportion of strokes could theoretically be prevented by optimal treatment of known etiological factors. A population-based cohort study enrolls a group of people, determines their characteristics at baseline, and follows them to see whether specific characteristics are associated with specific outcomes. A PAR of an etiological factor for a disease indicates the proportion of that disease in the population that would not occur in the absence of the risk factor.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from 6,844 participants in the Rotterdam Study, which was designed to investigate the causes and consequences of long-term and disabling diseases in the elderly. At baseline, all of the participants were over 55 years old and free from stroke. During follow-up, 1,020 strokes occurred among the participants. Using data on exposure at baseline to various etiological factors for stroke, the researchers calculated PARs for individual factors and used a special statistical technique to calculate PARs for the factors in combination. The combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 for any stroke. That is, about half of the strokes in the study population were attributable to this combination of etiological factors. Hypertension and smoking were the most important individual factors (PARs of 0.36 and 0.16, respectively). Notably, the inclusion of several less well established etiological factors (increased blood levels of C-reactive protein, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and thickening of the lining of arteries) only raised the total PAR for any stroke by 0.06.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that about half of the strokes in the study cohort were attributable to established modifiable etiological factors and could theoretically be prevented by eliminating these risk factors from the population. Previous studies have estimated that a larger proportion of strokes could be prevented by eliminating known etiological factors. The researchers acknowledge that some aspects of their study may have led to an underestimation of the proportion of stroke attributable to established etiological factors and note that their findings may not be generalizable to underprivileged or racially diverse populations. Nevertheless, they argue that previous studies are likely to have overestimated the PARs for stroke because they were based on case–control studies (in which exposure to etiological factors was assessed after a stroke had occurred in cases and control individuals, rather than before a stroke as in a population-based cohort study) and often did not use optimal statistical techniques to calculate the total PAR. Importantly, these new findings underscore the importance of interventions targeted at reducing smoking and hypertension and support the search for additional etiological factors for stroke.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Rotterdam Study is available
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634
PMCID: PMC4004543  PMID: 24781247
18.  Bariatric Surgery in the United Kingdom: A Cohort Study of Weight Loss and Clinical Outcomes in Routine Clinical Care 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(12):e1001925.
Background
Bariatric surgery is becoming a more widespread treatment for obesity. Comprehensive evidence of the long-term effects of contemporary surgery on a broad range of clinical outcomes in large populations treated in routine clinical practice is lacking. The objective of this study was to measure the association between bariatric surgery, weight, body mass index, and obesity-related co-morbidities.
Methods and Findings
This was an observational retrospective cohort study using data from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink. All 3,882 patients registered in the database and with bariatric surgery on or before 31 December 2014 were included and matched by propensity score to 3,882 obese patients without surgery. The main outcome measures were change in weight and body mass index over 4 y; incident diagnoses of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, angina, myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, fractures, obstructive sleep apnoea, and cancer; mortality; and resolution of hypertension and T2DM. Weight measures were available for 3,847 patients between 1 and 4 mo, 2,884 patients between 5 and 12 mo, and 2,258 patients between 13 and 48 mo post-procedure. Bariatric surgery patients exhibited rapid weight loss for the first four postoperative months, at a rate of 4.98 kg/mo (95% CI 4.88–5.08). Slower weight loss was sustained to the end of 4 y. Gastric bypass (6.56 kg/mo) and sleeve gastrectomy (6.29 kg/mo) were associated with greater initial weight reduction than gastric banding (2.77 kg/mo). Protective hazard ratios (HRs) were detected for bariatric surgery for incident T2DM, 0.68 (95% CI 0.55–0.83); hypertension, 0.35 (95% CI 0.27–0.45); angina, 0.59 (95% CI 0.40–0.87);MI, 0.28 (95% CI 0.10–0.74); and obstructive sleep apnoea, 0.55 (95% CI 0.40–0.87). Strong associations were found between bariatric surgery and the resolution of T2DM, with a HR of 9.29 (95% CI 6.84–12.62), and between bariatric surgery and the resolution of hypertension, with a HR of 5.64 (95% CI 2.65–11.99). No association was detected between bariatric surgery and fractures, cancer, or stroke. Effect estimates for mortality found no protective association with bariatric surgery overall, with a HR of 0.97 (95% CI 0.66–1.43). The data used were recorded for the management of patients in primary care and may be subject to inaccuracy, which would tend to lead to underestimates of true relative effect sizes.
Conclusions
Bariatric surgery as delivered in the UK healthcare system is associated with dramatic weight loss, sustained at least 4 y after surgery. This weight loss is accompanied by substantial improvements in pre-existing T2DM and hypertension, as well as a reduced risk of incident T2DM, hypertension, angina, MI, and obstructive sleep apnoea. Widening the availability of bariatric surgery could lead to substantial health benefits for many people who are morbidly obese.
In a UK cohort study, Ian Douglas and colleagues investigate weight, BMI, and related health outcomes after bariatric surgery.
Editors' Summary
Background
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is a growing threat to global public health. Worldwide, 13% of adults are obese, and, in the UK and the US, the statistics are even worse. A quarter and a third, respectively, of adults in these countries are obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI; an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of ≥30 kg/m2. Compared to people with a healthy weight (a BMI of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), overweight and obese people have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), myocardial infarction (heart attack), angina, and stroke, and they tend to die younger. People become overweight, and eventually obese, by consuming food and drink that contain more energy (calories) than they need for their daily activities. So, obesity can be prevented and reversed by eating less and exercising more.
Why Was This Study Done?
People with severe obesity (BMI of 40 kg/m2 or more) who have tried but failed to control their weight through lifestyle changes sometimes undergo bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery). In the UK and the US, this approach is also recommended for obese individuals who have an obesity-related illness such as type 2 diabetes with a lower BMI of 35 kg/m2 or more. Techniques such as gastric band surgery, gastric bypass, and sleeve gastrectomy all lead to reduced energy intake, and in randomized controlled trials comparing bariatric surgery and lifestyle interventions, bariatric surgery is associated with greater weight loss. However, the results of clinical trials are not always replicated in routine clinical practice. Here, the researchers investigate whether there is an association between bariatric surgery and weight, BMI, and obesity-related co-morbidities (illnesses) in the UK by undertaking a retrospective cohort study (an observational study that compares recorded clinical outcomes in non-randomized groups of patients who received different treatments).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, which contains anonymized clinical information about patients provided by general practitioners (primary care physicians), to identify 3,882 patients who had had bariatric surgery. They matched each patient (average BMI 44.7 kg/m2), according to the patient’s medications and constellation of risk factors, to an obese individual from the dataset who had not had bariatric surgery. This “propensity matching” technique is used in studies where patients are not allocated at random to receive a treatment, and is meant to control for confounding—the possibility that patients who receive the treatment may be otherwise distinct from patients who do not. According to this analysis, patients who had had bariatric surgery lost weight rapidly during the first four post-operative months (4.98 kg/month); their weight loss was sustained at a slower rate for up to four years. By contrast, there were no weight changes in the patients who did not have surgery. Notably, bariatric surgery was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes onset, hypertension onset, angina onset, myocardial infarction, and obstructive sleep apnea (a sleep disorder) onset, and with the resolution of both type 2 diabetes and hypertension in those who already had these conditions when they underwent surgery. However, over an average of 3.4 years of follow-up, there was no evidence of any difference in the risk of death.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that bariatric surgery delivered in routine clinical practice in the UK is associated with a substantial initial weight loss that is sustained for at least four years after surgery. They also show that bariatric surgery is associated with improvements in pre-existing type 2 diabetes and hypertension and with a reduced risk of developing several obesity-related co-morbidities. Because the data used in the study were recorded for patient management by primary care physicians, the researchers were unable to use strict diagnostic criteria for some outcomes, which may limit the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, these results suggest that widening the availability of bariatric surgery in the UK could provide substantial health benefits for many people who are morbidly obese. Indeed, the researchers calculate that, if the associations seen in this study are causal (an observational study cannot prove that a treatment causes a specific outcome), bariatric surgery could prevent and/or resolve many tens of thousands of cases of hypertension and type 2 diabetes and prevent similar numbers of cases of other obesity-related illnesses among the 1.4 million morbidly obese people living in the UK.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001925.
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website provides the latest details about global obesity trends; the World Obesity Federation also provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about obesity (including some real stories), bariatric surgery (including some comments from patients), and healthy eating
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of overweight and obesity
ChooseMyPlate.gov is a resource provided by the US Department of Agriculture that provides individuals and healthcare professionals with user-friendly information on nutrition and physical exercise
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on bariatric surgery and on weight control and healthy living
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on obesity and bariatric surgery (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001925
PMCID: PMC4687869  PMID: 26694640
19.  Development and Validation of a Risk Score for Chronic Kidney Disease in HIV Infection Using Prospective Cohort Data from the D:A:D Study 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(3):e1001809.
Background
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major health issue for HIV-positive individuals, associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Development and implementation of a risk score model for CKD would allow comparison of the risks and benefits of adding potentially nephrotoxic antiretrovirals to a treatment regimen and would identify those at greatest risk of CKD. The aims of this study were to develop a simple, externally validated, and widely applicable long-term risk score model for CKD in HIV-positive individuals that can guide decision making in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
A total of 17,954 HIV-positive individuals from the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D) study with ≥3 estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) values after 1 January 2004 were included. Baseline was defined as the first eGFR > 60 ml/min/1.73 m2 after 1 January 2004; individuals with exposure to tenofovir, atazanavir, atazanavir/ritonavir, lopinavir/ritonavir, other boosted protease inhibitors before baseline were excluded. CKD was defined as confirmed (>3 mo apart) eGFR ≤ 60 ml/min/1.73 m2. Poisson regression was used to develop a risk score, externally validated on two independent cohorts.
In the D:A:D study, 641 individuals developed CKD during 103,185 person-years of follow-up (PYFU; incidence 6.2/1,000 PYFU, 95% CI 5.7–6.7; median follow-up 6.1 y, range 0.3–9.1 y). Older age, intravenous drug use, hepatitis C coinfection, lower baseline eGFR, female gender, lower CD4 count nadir, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) predicted CKD. The adjusted incidence rate ratios of these nine categorical variables were scaled and summed to create the risk score. The median risk score at baseline was −2 (interquartile range –4 to 2). There was a 1:393 chance of developing CKD in the next 5 y in the low risk group (risk score < 0, 33 events), rising to 1:47 and 1:6 in the medium (risk score 0–4, 103 events) and high risk groups (risk score ≥ 5, 505 events), respectively. Number needed to harm (NNTH) at 5 y when starting unboosted atazanavir or lopinavir/ritonavir among those with a low risk score was 1,702 (95% CI 1,166–3,367); NNTH was 202 (95% CI 159–278) and 21 (95% CI 19–23), respectively, for those with a medium and high risk score. NNTH was 739 (95% CI 506–1462), 88 (95% CI 69–121), and 9 (95% CI 8–10) for those with a low, medium, and high risk score, respectively, starting tenofovir, atazanavir/ritonavir, or another boosted protease inhibitor.
The Royal Free Hospital Clinic Cohort included 2,548 individuals, of whom 94 individuals developed CKD (3.7%) during 18,376 PYFU (median follow-up 7.4 y, range 0.3–12.7 y). Of 2,013 individuals included from the SMART/ESPRIT control arms, 32 individuals developed CKD (1.6%) during 8,452 PYFU (median follow-up 4.1 y, range 0.6–8.1 y). External validation showed that the risk score predicted well in these cohorts. Limitations of this study included limited data on race and no information on proteinuria.
Conclusions
Both traditional and HIV-related risk factors were predictive of CKD. These factors were used to develop a risk score for CKD in HIV infection, externally validated, that has direct clinical relevance for patients and clinicians to weigh the benefits of certain antiretrovirals against the risk of CKD and to identify those at greatest risk of CKD.
Editors’ Summary
Background
About 35 million people are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. HIV infection can be controlled, but not cured, using combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), and, nowadays, the life expectancy of many HIV-positive individuals is similar to that of HIV-negative people. HIV-positive individuals nevertheless experience some illnesses more frequently than HIV-negative people do. For example, up to a third of HIV-positive individuals develop chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Persons with CKD may have an impaired effect of the filtration units in the kidneys that remove waste products and excess water from the blood to make urine, thereby leading to a reduced blood filtration rate (the estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR]) and waste product accumulation in the blood. Symptoms of CKD, which rarely occur until the disease is advanced, include tiredness, swollen feet, and frequent urination. Advanced stages of CKD cannot be cured, but its progression can be slowed by, for example, controlling hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (two CDK risk factors) and by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Why Was This Study Done?
The burden of CKD may increase among HIV-positive individuals as they age, and clinicians need to know which individuals are at high risk of developing CKD when choosing cART regimens for their patients. In addition, clinicians need to be able to identify those HIV-positive individuals at greatest risk of CKD so that they can monitor them for early signs of kidney disease. Some antiretroviral drugs—for example, tenofovir and atazanavir/ritonavir (a boosted protease inhibitor)—are associated with kidney damage. Clinicians may need to weigh the benefits and risks of giving such potentially nephrotoxic drugs to individuals who already have a high CKD risk. Here, the researchers develop and validate a simple, widely applicable risk score (a risk prediction model) for CKD among HIV-positive individuals and investigate the relationship between CKD and potentially nephrotoxic antiretroviral drugs among individuals with different CKD risk score profiles.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To develop their CKD risk score, the researchers used clinical and demographic data collected from 17,954 HIV-positive individuals enrolled in the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D) study who had an eGFR > 60 ml/min/1.73 m2 and were not taking a potentially nephrotoxic antiretroviral at baseline. During 103,185 person-years of follow-up, 641 individuals developed CKD. Older age, intravenous drug use, hepatitis C coinfection, lower baseline eGFR, female gender, lower CD4 count nadir, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease predicted CKD. The researchers included these nine factors in their risk score model (which is available online) and defined three risk groups: low (risk score < 0), medium (risk score 0–4), and high (risk score ≥ 5) risk of CKD development in the next five years. Specifically, there was a 1 in 393, 1 in 47, and 1 in 6 chance of developing CKD in the next five years in the low, medium, and high risk groups, respectively. Because some patients started to use potentially nephrotoxic antiretroviral drugs during follow-up, the researchers were able to use their risk score model to calculate how many patients would have to be treated with one of these drugs for an additional patient to develop CKD over five years in each risk group. This “number needed to harm” (NNTH) for patients starting treatment with tenofovir, atazanavir/ritonavir, or another boosted protease inhibitor was 739, 88, and 9 in the low, medium, and high risk groups, respectively. Finally, the researchers validated the accuracy of their risk score in two independent HIV study groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide a simple, validated risk score for CKD and indicate that the NNTH when starting potentially nephrotoxic antiretrovirals was low among HIV-positive individuals at the highest risk of CKD (i.e., treating just nine individuals with nephrotoxic antiretroviral drugs will likely lead to an additional case of CKD in five years). Although various aspects of the study, including the lack of data on race, limit the accuracy of these findings, these findings highlight the need for monitoring, screening, and chronic disease prevention to minimize the risk of HIV-positive individuals developing diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease, or becoming coinfected with hepatitis C, all of which contribute to the CKD risk score. Moreover, the development of a tool for estimating an individual’s five-year risk of developing CKD with or without the addition of potentially nephrotoxic antiretroviral drugs will enable clinicians and patients to weigh the benefits of certain antiretroviral drugs against the risk of CKD and make informed decisions about treatment options.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001809.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and personal stories about living with AIDS/HIV
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS (in several languages), including its guidelines on the use of ART for treating and preventing HIV infection
The UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2014 provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients on chronic kidney disease, including some personal stories
The US National Kidney Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about chronic kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
A tool for calculating the CDK risk score developed in this study is available
Additional information about the D:A:D study is available
Amanda Mocroft and colleagues develop and validate a model for determining risk of developing chronic kidney disease for individuals with HIV if treated with different antiretroviral therapies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001809
PMCID: PMC4380415  PMID: 25826420
20.  Assessment of protein tyrosine phosphatases number 22 polymorphism prevalence among rheumatoid arthritis patients: A study on Iranian patients 
Background:
It has been proposed that Trp (620) allotype of protein tyrosine phosphatases number 22 (PTPN22) gene can intensify the susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune diseases. Thus, in this study, the prevalence of this polymorphism has been surveyed among RA patients compared with healthy persons. The samples were selected from Isfahan province (one of the most populated area of Iran).
Materials and Methods:
In this study, 100 patients (case group) and 100 healthy persons (control group) were participated voluntarily. The case group was selected from people who had referred to the rheumatology clinic of AlZahra University Hospital to follow-up their treatment and change their drugs dosage. The control group members, who were living in Isfahan province, mutually had similar age with patients. On a total, 22% of the case group was male and 75% of the control group was female. DNA was extracted from the blood sample of all cases and controls and the PTPN22 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) C1858> T gene polymorphism were studied using the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method.
Results:
PTPN22 SNP C1858> T gene polymorphism was observed in 11 persons (11%) of the case group and 8 persons (8%) of the control group.
Conclusion:
The results show that the difference was not statistically significant in Isfahan RA population (P = 0.47; OR = 1.42; 95% CI 0.55-3.69). Although, another study on Iranian population had shown that this polymorphism confers susceptibility to RA.
doi:10.4103/2277-9175.143294
PMCID: PMC4219214  PMID: 25371875
Isfahan; polymorphism; protein tyrosine phosphates number 22; rheumatoid arthritis
21.  Safety analysis of tooth extraction in elderly patients with cardiovascular diseases 
Background
This study aimed to evaluate the safety of tooth extraction in elderly patients with cardiovascular diseases.
Material/Methods
A total of 13 527 patients underwent tooth extraction at the Affiliated Ninth People’s Hospital of Shanghai Jiaotong University. Age, sex, and diseases were analyzed. Cardiac monitoring during tooth extraction was performed in 7077 elderly patients with hypertension and other chronic diseases, and the influence of various factors on safety of tooth extraction was evaluated. Additionally, 89 patients with primary hypertension were recruited, and electrocardiogram was monitored with a general monitor or a Holter monitor, and the detection rate of cardiovascular events was compared between the 2 groups.
Results
The elderly accounted from 75.3%, and patients aged 70–79 years had highest proportion. The most frequent comorbidities were hypertension, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, cerebrovascular accident, and diabetes. In analysis of factors influencing the safety of tooth extraction in the elderly, a significant difference was noted in systolic blood pressure at different time points. In addition, change in heart rate was different between males and females. Detection rate of cardiovascular events by use of a Holter monitor was significantly higher than with a general monitor.
Conclusions
Hypertension was the most common comorbidity in elderly patients undergoing tooth extraction, followed by coronary heart disease and arrhythmia. Advanced age and increased comorbidity may increase the risk of complications. Risk score can be used to rapidly determine risk for complications during tooth extraction. The Holter monitor is superior to the general monitor in identifying cardiovascular events in high-risk elderly patients undergoing tooth extraction, and can be used in this population.
doi:10.12659/MSM.890131
PMCID: PMC4031223  PMID: 24819043
Tooth Extraction; Dental Care for Aged; Cardiovascular Diseases
22.  The Effect of Reciting the Word “Allah” on Pain Severity After Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: A Randomized Clinical Trial Study in Iran 
Background:
One of the most expressed complains following coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is chest wall pain. Due to side effects of opioids used commonly for pain relief after heart surgeries, it is important to use low-cost and non-pharmacological methods independently or combined with palliatives to alleviate pain and consequently prevent undesirable drug adverse effects.
Objectives:
This study aimed to investigate the effect of Hazrate Zahra’s praises, which is one of the most known praises among Muslims in which the word “Allah” is repeated 100 times, on pain severity after CABG surgery.
Patients and Methods:
This randomized clinical trial study was performed on 80 patients in Busheher Bentolhoda Hospital, Iran, in 2013. Data was collected by a researcher-made questionnaire and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). Patients were randomly assigned into intervention (n = 40) and control (n = 40) groups. In intervention group, we asked patients to recite Hazrate Zahra’s praises (AS) as one of the most known praises among Muslims in which the word “Allah” is repeated 100 times. In the control group, patients received routine procedures of hospital. Pain was assessed before and immediately after the intervention in three days after the operation in the both groups. Data was analyzed by SPSS 19 software using descriptive and analytic (Chi-square and independent and paired sample t test) statistical methods.
Results:
There was a significant difference regarding pain severity after the intervention between the two groups during three days after the operation (respectively P ≤ 0.001, P ≤ 0.001 and P ≤ 0.003), but no significant difference was found between the two studied groups before the intervention. Moreover, a significant difference was seen before and after recitation in the intervention group during three days after the operation (for three days P ≤ 0.001), while in control group no significant difference was revealed before and after the intervention (respectively P = 0.493, P = 0.541 and P = 0.119).
Conclusions:
Reciting the word “Allah” as a non-pharmacological, low-cost and non-invasive method with no side effects can be effective on pain relief after CABG surgery.
doi:10.5812/aapm.23149
PMCID: PMC4333306  PMID: 25729678
Islam; Pain; CABG Surgery
23.  Preeclampsia as a Risk Factor for Diabetes: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(4):e1001425.
Denice Feig and colleagues assess the association between gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia and the development of future diabetes in a database analysis of pregnant women in Ontario, Canada.
Background
Women with preeclampsia (PEC) and gestational hypertension (GH) exhibit insulin resistance during pregnancy, independent of obesity and glucose intolerance. Our aim was to determine whether women with PEC or GH during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing diabetes after pregnancy, and whether the presence of PEC/GH in addition to gestational diabetes (GDM) increases the risk of future (postpartum) diabetes.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based, retrospective cohort study for 1,010,068 pregnant women who delivered in Ontario, Canada between April 1994 and March 2008. Women were categorized as having PEC alone (n = 22,933), GH alone (n = 27,605), GDM alone (n = 30,852), GDM+PEC (n = 1,476), GDM+GH (n = 2,100), or none of these conditions (n = 925,102). Our main outcome was a new diagnosis of diabetes postpartum in the following years, up until March 2011, based on new records in the Ontario Diabetes Database. The incidence rate of diabetes per 1,000 person-years was 6.47 for women with PEC and 5.26 for GH compared with 2.81 in women with neither of these conditions. In the multivariable analysis, both PEC alone (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.08; 95% CI 1.97–2.19) and GH alone (HR = 1.95; 95% CI 1.83–2.07) were risk factors for subsequent diabetes. Women with GDM alone were at elevated risk of developing diabetes postpartum (HR = 12.77; 95% CI 12.44–13.10); however, the co–presence of PEC or GH in addition to GDM further elevated this risk (HR = 15.75; 95% CI 14.52–17.07, and HR = 18.49; 95% CI 17.12–19.96, respectively). Data on obesity were not available.
Conclusions
Women with PEC/GH have a 2-fold increased risk of developing diabetes when followed up to 16.5 years after pregnancy, even in the absence of GDM. The presence of PEC/GH in the setting of GDM also raised the risk of diabetes significantly beyond that seen with GDM alone. A history of PEC/GH during pregnancy should alert clinicians to the need for preventative counseling and more vigilant screening for diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar), known as type 1 diabetes, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces—type 2 diabetes. Raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious complications and even death. Worryingly, the global burden of type 2 diabetes is increasing worldwide, and the World Health Organization estimates that 90% of the 347 million people with diabetes currently have type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in high risk groups by a range of lifestyle and treatment interventions and so it is important to identify potential high risk groups to screen for type 2 diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes that is related to pregnancy) is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, diabetes prevention strategies should target women with gestational diabetes. Likewise, other common disorders of pregnancy possibly associated with insulin resistance, such as preeclampsia (a condition in which affected women have high blood pressure, fluid retention, and protein in their urine) and gestational hypertension (high blood pressure associated with pregnancy), may lead to the future development of type 2 diabetes. So women with these conditions may also benefit from diabetes prevention strategies. Therefore, in this large database study from Ontario, Canada, the researchers examined whether pregnant women with preeclampsia or gestational hypertension had an increased risk of developing diabetes in the years following pregnancy even if they did not have gestational diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a comprehensive Canadian health database to identify all women age 15 to 50 years of age who delivered in an Ontario hospital between April 1994 and March 2008. They then identified women who had preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or gestational diabetes through hospital records and outpatient information. The researchers then used records from the Ontario Diabetes Database to record whether these women went on to develop diabetes in the period from 180 days after delivery until March 2011.
Using these methods, the researchers identified 1,010,068 pregnant women suitable for analysis, of whom 22,933 had only preeclampsia, 27,605 had only gestational hypertension, and 30,852 had only gestational diabetes: 2,100 women had both gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension and 1,476 women had gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Overall, 35,077 women developed diabetes (3.5%) in the follow-up period (median of 8.5 years) at a median age of 37 years. In a modeling analysis, the researchers found that women with gestational diabetes had a 15-fold increased rate of developing diabetes compared to women without gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia, while women with gestational diabetes plus either preeclampsia or gestational hypertension had a 20- to 21-fold increased rate. These results were slightly reduced after adjusting for age, income quintile, hypertension prior to pregnancy, and co-morbidity, giving a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.95 for gestational hypertension alone, an HR of 2.08 for preeclampsia alone, an HR of 12.77 for gestational diabetes alone, an HR of 18.49 for gestational diabetes plus gestational hypertension and finally, an HR of 15.75 for gestational diabetes plus preeclampsia.
These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that both preeclampsia and gestational hypertension without gestational diabetes are associated with a 2-fold increased incidence of diabetes in the years following pregnancy after controlling for several important variables. When combined with gestational diabetes, these conditions were associated with a further elevation in diabetes incidence additional to the 13-fold increased incidence resulting from gestational diabetes alone. A limitation of this study was the lack of information on obesity and body mass index, factors which are also associated with increased risk of developing diabetes. Nevertheless, these findings highlight a possible new risk factor for diabetes, and suggest that clinicians should be aware of the need for preventative measures and vigilant screening for diabetes in women with a history of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001425.
NHS Choices has information about preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and gestational hypertension
Living with diabetes is a useful resource for patients with diabetes
The Preeclampsia Foundation has more information about preeclampsia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001425
PMCID: PMC3627640  PMID: 23610560
24.  Associations between Active Travel to Work and Overweight, Hypertension, and Diabetes in India: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001459.
Using data from the Indian Migration Study, Christopher Millett and colleagues examine the associations between active travel to work and overweight, hypertension, and diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Increasing active travel (walking, bicycling, and public transport) is promoted as a key strategy to increase physical activity and reduce the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) globally. Little is known about patterns of active travel or associated cardiovascular health benefits in low- and middle-income countries. This study examines mode and duration of travel to work in rural and urban India and associations between active travel and overweight, hypertension, and diabetes.
Methods and Findings
Cross-sectional study of 3,902 participants (1,366 rural, 2,536 urban) in the Indian Migration Study. Associations between mode and duration of active travel and cardiovascular risk factors were assessed using random-effect logistic regression models adjusting for age, sex, caste, standard of living, occupation, factory location, leisure time physical activity, daily fat intake, smoking status, and alcohol use. Rural dwellers were significantly more likely to bicycle (68.3% versus 15.9%; p<0.001) to work than urban dwellers. The prevalence of overweight or obesity was 50.0%, 37.6%, 24.2%, 24.9%; hypertension was 17.7%, 11.8%, 6.5%, 9.8%; and diabetes was 10.8%, 7.4%, 3.8%, 7.3% in participants who travelled to work by private transport, public transport, bicycling, and walking, respectively. In the adjusted analysis, those walking (adjusted risk ratio [ARR] 0.72; 95% CI 0.58–0.88) or bicycling to work (ARR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55–0.77) were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese than those travelling by private transport. Those bicycling to work were significantly less likely to have hypertension (ARR 0.51; 95% CI 0.36–0.71) or diabetes (ARR 0.65; 95% CI 0.44–0.95). There was evidence of a dose-response relationship between duration of bicycling to work and being overweight, having hypertension or diabetes. The main limitation of the study is the cross-sectional design, which limits causal inference for the associations found.
Conclusions
Walking and bicycling to work was associated with reduced cardiovascular risk in the Indian population. Efforts to increase active travel in urban areas and halt declines in rural areas should be integral to strategies to maintain healthy weight and prevent NCDs in India.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity (excessive body fat) are major threats to global health. Every year, more than 36 million people (including 29 million in LMICs) die from NCDs—nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. Cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and the circulation), diabetes, cancer, and respiratory diseases are responsible for most NCD-related deaths. Obesity is a risk factor for all these NCDs and the global prevalence of obesity (the proportion of the world's population that is obese) has nearly doubled since 1980. In 2008, 35% of adults were overweight and 11% were obese. One reason for the growing burden of both obesity and NCDs is increasing physical inactivity. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body weight and to prevent or delay the onset of NCDs. For an adult, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity—walking briskly or cycling, for example—five times a week is sufficient to promote and maintain health. But the daily lives of people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly sedentary and, nowadays, at least 60% of the world's population does not do even this modest amount of exercise.
Why Was This Study Done?
Strategies to increase physical activity levels often promote active travel (walking, cycling, and using public transport). The positive impact of active travel on physical activity levels and cardiovascular health is well established in high-income countries, but little is known about the patterns of active travel or the health benefits associated with active travel in poorer countries. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that measures population characteristics at a single time point), the researchers examine the mode and duration of travel to work in rural and urban India and associations between active travel and overweight/obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease), and diabetes. In India, a lower middle-income country, the prevalence of overweight and NCDs is projected to increase rapidly over the next two decades. Moreover, rapid unplanned urbanization and a large increase in registered motor vehicles has resulted in inadequate development of the public transport infrastructure and hazardous conditions for walking and cycling in most Indian towns and cities.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, researchers analyzed physical activity and health data collected from participants in the Indian Migration Study, which examined the association between migration from rural to urban areas and obesity and diabetes risk. People living in rural areas were more likely to cycle to work than people living in towns and cities (68.3% versus 15.9%). Among people who travelled to work by private transport, public transport, walking, and cycling, the prevalence of overweight or obesity was 50.0%, 37.6%, 24.9%, and 24.2%, respectively. Similar patterns were seen for the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. After adjustment for factors that affect the risk of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes (for example, daily fat intake and leisure time physical activity), people walking or cycling to work were less likely to be overweight or obese than those travelling by public transport, and those cycling to walk were less likely to have hypertension or diabetes. Finally, people with long cycle rides to work had a lower risk of being overweight or having hypertension or diabetes than people with short cycle rides.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, as in high-income settings, walking and cycling to work are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in India. Because this was a cross-sectional study, these findings do not prove that active travel reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease—people who cycle to work may share other unknown characteristics that are actually responsible for their reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, this study did not consider non-cardiovascular outcomes associated with active travel that might affect health such as increased exposure to air pollution. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that programs designed to maintain healthy weight and prevent NCDs in India should endeavor to increase active travel in urban areas and to halt declines in rural areas by, for example, increasing investment in public transport and improving the safety and convenience of walking and cycling routes in urban areas.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001459.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Kavi Bhalla
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living, on chronic diseases and health promotion, on overweight and obesity and on non-communicable diseases around the world; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines, instructional videos and personal success stories (some information in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health, about obesity, and about non-communicable diseases (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages; its Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) aims to help low- and middle- income countries reduce NCD-related illnesses and death through implementation of the 20082013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (also available in French); Face to face with chronic diseases is a selection of personal stories from around the world about dealing with NCDs
The American Heart Association provides information on many important risk factors for non-communicable diseases and provides tips for becoming more active
Information about the Indian Migration Study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001459
PMCID: PMC3679004  PMID: 23776412
25.  Effects of pain management program on the length of stay of patients with decreased level of consciousness: A clinical trial 
Background:
Critical care patients are at higher risk for untreated pain. Pain has persistent and untreated effects on most of the body systems and results in development of complications, chronic pain, and increased length of stay. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of the implementation of a pain management program on the length of stay in patients with decreased level of consciousness, admitted in Al-Zahra hospital intensive care units (ICUs) in 2013.
Materials and Methods:
In this clinical trial, 50 subjects with decreased level of consciousness were selected by convenient sampling from the ICU wards of Al-Zahra hospital, Isfahan, Iran and were randomly assigned to two groups of study and control. Pain management program was applied on the study group and routine care was implemented in the control group. Data including demographic data and length of stay of patients in the ICUs were collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square test, independent t-test, and paired t-test.
Results:
Results showed that out of 50 subjects attending the study, there were 40% female and 60% male subjects in study, and 52% female and 48% male subjects in control group. (P = 0.395). Overall mean length of stay of the patients in the ICUs was significantly lower in the case group [3.2 (1.4)] days compared to the control group [7.4 (4.8) days] (P < 0.001).
Conclusions:
This study showed that overall mean length of stay of patients in the ICUs was significantly lower in the study group compared to the control group. It is suggested to use this program for patients in ICUs with decreased level of consciousness after a general surgery.
doi:10.4103/1735-9066.160996
PMCID: PMC4525351  PMID: 26257808
ICU; length of stay; level of consciousness; pain management programs

Results 1-25 (2010135)