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1.  Immediate and 12 months follow up of function and lead integrity after cranial MRI in 356 patients with conventional cardiac pacemakers 
Conventional cardiac pacemakers are still often regarded as a contraindication to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We conducted this study to support the hypothesis that it is safe to scan patients with cardiac pacemakers in a 1.5 Tesla MRI, if close supervision and monitoring as well as adequate pre- and postscan programming is provided.
We followed up 356 patients (age 61.3 ± 9.1 yrs., 229 men) with single (n = 132) or dual chamber (n = 224) cardiac pacemakers and urgent indication for a cranial MRI for 12 months. The scans were performed at 1.5T. During the scan patients were monitored with a 3-lead ECG and pulse oximetry. Prior to the scan pacemakers were programmed according to our own protocol.
All 356 scans were completed without complications. No arrhythmias were induced, programmed parameters remained unchanged. No pacemaker dysfunction was identified. Follow-up examinations were performed immediately, 2 weeks, 2, 6, and 12 months after the scan. There was no significant change of pacing capture threshold (ventricular 0.9 ± 0.4 V@0.4 ms, atrial 0.9 ± 0.3 V@0.4 ms) immediately (ventricular 1.0 ± 0.3 V@0.4 ms, atrial 0.9 ± 0.4 V@0.4 ms) or at 12 months follow-up examinations (ventricular 0.9 ± 0.2 V@0.4 ms, atrial 0.9 ± 0.3 V@0.4 ms). There was no significant change in sensing threshold (8.0 ± 4.0 mV vs. 8.1 ± 4.2 mV ventricular lead, 2.0 ± 0.9 mV vs. 2.1 ± 1.0 mV atrial lead) or lead impedance (ventricular 584 ± 179 Ω vs. 578 ± 188 Ω, atrial 534 ± 176 Ω vs. 532 ± 169 Ω) after 12 months.
This supports the evidence that patients with conventional pacemakers can safely undergo cranial MRI in a 1.5T system with suitable preparation, supervision and precautions. Long term follow-up did not reveal significant changes in pacing capture nor sensing threshold.
PMCID: PMC4053551  PMID: 24903354
Pacemaker; Magnetic resonance imaging; Safety
2.  SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging as an adjunct to coronary calcium score for the detection of hemodynamically significant coronary artery stenosis 
Coronary artery calcifications (CAC) are markers of coronary atherosclerosis, but do not correlate well with stenosis severity. This study intended to evaluate clinical situations where a combined approach of coronary calcium scoring (CS) and nuclear stress test (SPECT-MPI) is useful for the detection of relevant CAD.
Patients with clinical indication for invasive coronary angiography (ICA) were included into our study during 08/2005-09/2008. At first all patients underwent CS procedure as part of the study protocol performed by either using a multidetector computed tomography (CT) scanner or a dual-source CT imager. CAC were automatically defined by dedicated software and the Agatston score was semi-automatically calculated. A stress-rest SPECT-MPI study was performed afterwards and scintigraphic images were evaluated quantitatively. Then all patients underwent ICA. Thereby significant CAD was defined as luminal stenosis ≥75% in quantitative coronary analysis (QCA) in ≥1 epicardial vessel. To compare data lacking Gaussian distribution an unpaired Wilcoxon-Test (Mann–Whitney) was used. Otherwise a Students t-test for unpaired samples was applied. Calculations were considered to be significant at a p-value of <0.05.
We consecutively included 351 symptomatic patients (mean age: 61.2±12.3 years; range: 18–94 years; male: n=240) with a mean Agatston score of 258.5±512.2 (range: 0–4214). ICA verified exclusion of significant CAD in 66/67 (98.5%) patients without CAC. CAC was detected in remaining 284 patients. In 132/284 patients (46.5%) with CS>0 significant CAD was confirmed by ICA, and excluded in 152/284 (53.5%) patients. Sensitivity for CAD detection by CS alone was calculated as 99.2%, specificity was 30.3%, and negative predictive value was 98.5%. An additional SPECT in patients with CS>0 increased specificity to 80.9% while reducing sensitivity to 87.9%. Diagnostic accuracy was 84.2%.
In patients without CS=0 significant CAD can be excluded with a high negative predictive value by CS alone. An additional SPECT-MPI in those patients with CS>0 leads to a high diagnostic accuracy for the detection of CAD while reducing the number of patients needing invasive diagnostic procedure.
PMCID: PMC3527199  PMID: 23206557
Computed tomography coronary calcium scoring; Single photon emission computed tomography myocardial perfusion imaging; Invasive coronary angiography; Coronary artery disease
3.  Cardiac arrest associated with sildenafil ingestion in a patient with an abnormal origin of the left coronary artery: case report 
Left coronary artery arising from the right sinus of Valsalva is an uncommon congenital coro-nary anomaly that seems to be associated with sudden death in young patients.
Case presentation
We report a case of cardiac arrest in a 59-year-old patient after sexual intercourse and Silde-nafil ingestion. A coronary arteriography and an angiographic computed tomography scan subsequently revealed a LCA origin from the right aortic sinus along with an intramural course of the left main stem. In addition a distal stenosis of the right coronary artery was detected. After successful resuscitation without neurological deficits coronary artery bypass surgery was performed.
To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating sudden cardiac arrest associated with Sildenafil ingestion in a patient with this type of coronary anomaly. The question arises, whether a cardiac screening is necessary before a Sildenafil therapy is initiated.
PMCID: PMC3166914  PMID: 21824399
4.  Visualization of anomalous origin and course of coronary arteries in 748 consecutive symptomatic patients by 64-slice computed tomography angiography 
Coronary artery anomalies (CAAs) are currently undergoing profound changes in understanding potentially pathophysiological mechanisms of disease. Aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of anomalous origin and course of coronary arteries in consecutive symptomatic patients, who underwent cardiac 64-slice multidetector-row computed tomography angiography (MDCTA).
Imaging datasets of 748 consecutive symptomatic patients referred for cardiac MDCTA were analyzed and CAAs of origin and further vessel course were grouped according to a recently suggested classification scheme by Angelini et al.
An overall of 17/748 patients (2.3%) showed CAA of origin and further vessel course. According to aforementioned classification scheme no Subgroup 1- (absent left main trunk) and Subgroup 2- (anomalous location of coronary ostium within aortic root or near proper aortic sinus of Valsalva) CAA were found. Subgroup 3 (anomalous location of coronary ostium outside normal "coronary" aortic sinuses) consisted of one patient with high anterior origin of both coronary arteries. The remaining 16 patients showed a coronary ostium at improper sinus (Subgroup 4). Latter group was subdivided into a right coronary artery arising from left anterior sinus with separate ostium (subgroup 4a; n = 7) and common ostium with left main coronary artery (subgroup 4b; n = 1). Subgroup 4c consisted of one patient with a single coronary artery arising from the right anterior sinus (RAS) without left circumflex coronary artery (LCX). In subgroup 4d, LCX arose from RAS (n = 7).
Prevalence of CAA of origin and further vessel course in a symptomatic consecutive patient population was similar to large angiographic series, although these patients do not reflect general population. However, our study supports the use of 64-slice MDCTA for the identification and definition of CAA.
PMCID: PMC2799381  PMID: 20003347
5.  MMP-1 serum levels predict coronary atherosclerosis in humans 
Myocardial infarction results as a consequence of atherosclerotic plaque rupture, with plaque stability largely depending on the lesion forming extracellular matrix components. Lipid enriched non-calcified lesions are considered more instable and rupture prone than calcified lesions. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are extracellular matrix degrading enzymes with plaque destabilisating characteristics which have been implicated in atherogenesis. We therefore hypothesised MMP-1 and MMP-9 serum levels to be associated with non-calcified lesions as determined by CT-angiography in patients with coronary artery disease.
260 patients with typical or atypical chest pain underwent dual-source multi-slice CT-angiography (0.6-mm collimation, 330-ms gantry rotation time) to exclude coronary artery stenosis. Atherosclerotic plaques were classified as calcified, mixed or non-calcified.
In multivariable regession analysis, MMP-1 serum levels were associated with total plaque burden (OR: 1.37 (CI: 1.02-1.85); p < 0.05) in a model adjusted for age, sex, BMI, classical cardiovascular risk factors, hsCRP, adiponectin, pericardial fat volume and medication. Specification of plaque morphology revealed significant association of MMP-1 serum levels with non-calcified plaques (OR: 1.16 (CI: 1.0-1.34); p = 0.05) and calcified plaques (OR: 1.22 (CI: 1,03-1.45); p < 0.05) while association with mixed plaques was lost in the fully adjusted model. No associations were found between MMP9 serum levels and total plaque burden or plaque morphology.
MMP-1 serum levels are associated with total plaque burden but do not allow a specification of plaque morphology.
PMCID: PMC2754422  PMID: 19751510
6.  Low Adiponectin Levels Are an Independent Predictor of Mixed and Non-Calcified Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaques 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4733.
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary artery disease (CAD). There is increasing recognition that lesion composition rather than size determines the acute complications of atherosclerotic disease. Low serum adiponectin levels were reported to be associated with coronary artery disease and future incidence of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). The impact of adiponectin on lesion composition still remains to be determined.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We measured serum adiponectin levels in 303 patients with stable typical or atypical chest pain, who underwent dual-source multi-slice CT-angiography to exclude coronary artery stenosis. Atherosclerotic plaques were classified as calcified, mixed or non-calcified. In bivariate analysis adiponectin levels were inversely correlated with total coronary plaque burden (r = −0.21, p = 0.0004), mixed (r = −0.20, p = 0.0007) and non-calcified plaques (r = −0.18, p = 0.003). No correlation was seen with calcified plaques (r = −0.05, p = 0.39). In a fully adjusted multivariate model adiponectin levels remained predictive of total plaque burden (estimate: −0.036, 95%CI: −0.052 to −0.020, p<0.0001), mixed (estimate: −0.087, 95%CI: −0.132 to −0.042, p = 0.0001) and non-calcified plaques (estimate: −0.076, 95%CI: −0.115 to −0.038, p = 0.0001). Adiponectin levels were not associated with calcified plaques (estimate: −0.021, 95% CI: −0.043 to −0.001, p = 0.06). Since the majority of coronary plaques was calcified, adiponectin levels account for only 3% of the variability in total plaque number. In contrast, adiponectin accounts for approximately 20% of the variability in mixed and non-calcified plaque burden.
Adiponectin levels predict mixed and non-calcified coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden. Low adiponectin levels may contribute to coronary plaque vulnerability and may thus play a role in the pathophysiology of ACS.
PMCID: PMC2649379  PMID: 19266101
7.  Predictive value of coronary calcifications for future cardiac events in asymptomatic patients with diabetes mellitus: A prospective study in 716 patients over 8 years 
To establish an efficient prophylaxis of coronary artery disease reliable risk stratification is crucial, especially in the high risk population of patients suffering from diabetes mellitus. This prospective study determined the predictive value of coronary calcifications for future cardiovascular events in asymptomatic patients with diabetes mellitus.
We included 716 patients suffering from diabetes mellitus (430 men, 286 women, age 55.2 ± 15.2 years) in this study. On study entry all patients were asymptomatic and had no history of coronary artery disease. In addition, all patients showed no signs of coronary artery disease in ECG, stress ECG or echocardiography. Coronary calcifications were determined with the Imatron C 150 XP electron beam computed tomograph. For quantification of coronary calcifications we calculated the Agatston score. After a mean observation period of 8.1 ± 1.1 years patients were contacted and the event rate of cardiac death (CD) and myocardial infarction (MI) was determined.
During the observation period 40 patients suffered from MI, 36 patients died from acute CD. The initial Agatston score in patients that suffered from MI or died from CD (475 ± 208) was significantly higher compared to those without cardiac events (236 ± 199, p < 0.01). An Agatston score above 400 was associated with a significantly higher annualised event rate for cardiovascular events (5.6% versus 0.7%, p < 0.01). No cardiac events were observed in patients with exclusion of coronary calcifications. Compared to the Framingham risk score and the UKPDS score the Agatston score showed a significantly higher diagnostic accuracy in the prediction of MI with an area under the ROC curve of 0.77 versus 0.68, and 0.71, respectively, p < 0.01.
By determination of coronary calcifications patients at risk for future MI and CD could be identified within an asymptomatic high risk group of patients suffering from diabetes mellitus. On the other hand future events could be excluded in patients without coronary calcifications.
PMCID: PMC2569906  PMID: 18847481

Results 1-7 (7)