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1.  Risk loci for coronary artery calcification replicated at 9p21 and 6q24 in the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:23.
Background
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary heart disease (CHD), preceding the onset of cardiovascular disease by decades in most cases. Here we examine the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) integrated on Metabochip and coronary artery calcification (CAC), a valid risk factor for CHD, in an unselected, population-based German cohort.
Methods
The Metabochip is a custom iSELECT array containing >195,000 SNPs that was designed to support large-scale follow-up of putative associations for metabolic and cardiovascular-associated traits. We used generalized linear regression models to explore the impact of Metabochip SNPs on quantitative CAC in 4,329 participants.
Results
The 9p21 variant, rs1537373, was most strongly associated (Beta = 0.30; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.21-0.39; p = 4.05x10-11) with quantitative CAC. The second strongest association with CAC was with rs9349379 in the phosphatase and actin regulator 1 gene, PHACTR1, (Beta = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.22-0.40; p = 4.67x10-11). Both SNPs remained nominally significant in dichotomized analyses for the presence of any CAC (odds ratiors1537373 (OR) = 1.19; 95% CI = 1.07-1.31; p = 0.001 and ORrs9349379 = 1.26; 95% CI = 1.14-1.40); p = 1.5x10-5). Fine mapping of the 9p21 and PHACTR1 gene region revealed several other SNPs that were strongly associated with CAC.
Conclusion
We demonstrate that SNPs near 9p21 and in PHACTR1 that have previously been shown to be associated with CHD are strongly associated with CAC in the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study cohort. Our findings suggest that the 9p21 and 6q24 loci might be involved in cardiac outcome via promoting development of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-14-23
PMCID: PMC3583714  PMID: 23394302
Coronary heart disease; Coronary artery calcification; Cohort study; Polymorphism; Metabochip
2.  Coronary aspirate TNFα reflects saphenous vein bypass graft restenosis risk in diabetic patients 
Background
Patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) have an increased risk for periprocedural complications and adverse cardiac events after percutaneous coronary intervention. We addressed the potential for coronary microvascular obstruction and restenosis in patients with and without DM undergoing stenting for saphenous vein bypass graft (SVG) stenosis under protection with a distal occlusion/aspiration device.
Methods
SVG plaque volume and composition were analyzed using intravascular ultrasound before stent implantation. Percent diameter stenosis was determined from quantitative coronary angiography before, immediately after and 6 months after stent implantation. Coronary aspirate was retrieved during stent implantation and divided into particulate debris and plasma. Total calcium, several vasoconstrictors, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α in particulate debris and coronary aspirate plasma were determined.
Results
Patients with and without DM had similar plaque volume, but larger necrotic core and greater particulate debris release in patients with than without DM (20.3±2.7 vs. 12.7±2.6% and 143.9±19.3 vs. 75.1±10.4 mg, P<0.05). The TNFα concentration in particulate debris and coronary aspirate plasma was higher in patients with than without DM (15.9±6.6 vs. 5.1±2.4 pmol/mg and 2.2±0.7 vs. 1.1±0.2 pmol/L, P<0.05), whereas total calcium and vasoconstrictors were not different. Patients with DM had a greater percent diameter stenosis 6 months after stent implantation than those without DM (22.17±5.22 vs. 6.34±1.11%, P<0.05). The increase in TNFα immediately after stent implantation correlated with restenosis 6 months later (r=0.69, P<0.05).
Conclusion
In diabetics, particulate debris and coronary aspirate plasma contained more TNFα, which might reflect the activity of the underlying atherosclerotic process.
Trial registration
URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=NCT01430884; unique identifier: NCT01430884
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-12-12
PMCID: PMC3560373  PMID: 23305356
Coronary disease; Diabetes mellitus; Ischemia; TNFα; Vasoconstriction
3.  Long-Term Urban Particulate Air Pollution, Traffic Noise, and Arterial Blood Pressure 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(12):1706-1711.
Background: Recent studies have shown an association of short-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) with transient increases in blood pressure (BP), but it is unclear whether long-term exposure has an effect on arterial BP and hypertension.
Objectives: We investigated the cross-sectional association of residential long-term PM exposure with arterial BP and hypertension, taking short-term variations of PM and long-term road traffic noise exposure into account.
Methods: We used baseline data (2000–2003) on 4,291 participants, 45–75 years of age, from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a population-based prospective cohort in Germany. Urban background exposure to PM with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and ≤ 10 μm (PM10) was assessed with a dispersion and chemistry transport model. We used generalized additive models, adjusting for short-term PM, meteorology, traffic proximity, and individual risk factors.
Results: An interquartile increase in PM2.5 (2.4 μg/m3) was associated with estimated increases in mean systolic and diastolic BP of 1.4 mmHg [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.5, 2.3] and 0.9 mmHg (95% CI: 0.4, 1.4), respectively. The observed relationship was independent of long-term exposure to road traffic noise and robust to the inclusion of many potential confounders. Residential proximity to high traffic and traffic noise exposure showed a tendency toward higher BP and an elevated prevalence of hypertension.
Conclusions: We found an association of long-term exposure to PM with increased arterial BP in a population-based sample. This finding supports our hypothesis that long-term PM exposure may promote atherosclerosis, with air-pollution–induced increases in BP being one possible biological pathway.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1103564
PMCID: PMC3261981  PMID: 21827977
atherosclerosis; environmental epidemiology; hypertension; particulate matter; traffic emissions
4.  Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Coronary Artery Calcification among Nonsmoking Participants of a Population-Based Cohort 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(11):1556-1561.
Background: Secondhand smoke (SHS) consists of fine particulate matter, carcinogens, and various toxins that affect large parts of the population. SHS increases the risk for acute cardiovascular events and may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Objectives: We investigated the association of SHS with coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Methods: In this cross-sectional analysis, we used baseline data (2000–2003) from 1,766 never-smokers without clinically manifested coronary heart disease, 45–75 years of age, from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, an ongoing, prospective, population-based cohort study in Germany. Self-reported frequent SHS at home, at work, and in other places was assessed by questionnaire. CAC scores were derived based on electron-beam computed tomography. We conducted multiple linear regression analysis using exposure to SHS as the explanatory variable and ln(CAC+1) as the response variable. We conducted logistic regression to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for presence of any CAC.
Results: Frequent exposure to SHS was reported by 21.5% of participants. After adjustment for age, sex, and socioeconomic status, CAC + 1 was 21.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): –5.5%, 55.2%] higher in exposed than in unexposed participants. After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, the association was attenuated (15.4%; 95% CI: –9.6%, 47.2%). SHS exposure was also associated with a CAC score > 0 (fully adjusted OR = 1.38; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.84).
Conclusions: Self-reported frequent exposure to SHS was associated with subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in our cross-sectional study population. Considering the widespread exposure and the clinical relevance of coronary atherosclerosis, this result, if confirmed, is of public health importance.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1003347
PMCID: PMC3226494  PMID: 21742575
cardiovascular atherosclerosis; comparative risk assessment; environmental epidemiology; population health; secondhand smoke
5.  Non‐invasive screening for coronary artery disease: calcium scoring 
Heart  2007;93(12):1620-1629.
doi:10.1136/hrt.2005.071258
PMCID: PMC2095743  PMID: 18003695
6.  Common variants at ten loci modulate the QT interval duration in the QTSCD Study 
Nature genetics  2009;41(4):407-414.
The QT interval, a measure of cardiac repolarization, predisposes to ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) when prolonged or shortened. A common variant in NOS1AP is known to influence repolarization. We analyze genome-wide data from five population-based cohorts (ARIC, KORA, SardiNIA, GenNOVA and HNR) with a total of 15,842 individuals of European ancestry, to confirm the NOS1AP association and identify nine additional loci at P < 5 × 10−8. Four loci map near the monogenic long-QT syndrome genes KCNQ1, KCNH2, SCN5A and KCNJ2. Two other loci include ATP1B1 and PLN, genes with established electrophysiological function, whereas three map to RNF207, near LITAF and within NDRG4-GINS3-SETD6-CNOT1, respectively, all of which have not previously been implicated in cardiac electrophysiology. These results, together with an accompanying paper from the QTGEN consortium, identify new candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias and SCD.
doi:10.1038/ng.362
PMCID: PMC2976045  PMID: 19305409
7.  Common Variants in KCNN3 are Associated with Lone Atrial Fibrillation 
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):240-244.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia. A subset of patients with lone AF have no overt heart disease and an increased heritability of AF. We sought to identify common genetic variants underlying lone AF. Cases were from the German AF Network, Heart and Vascular Health Study, Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, Cleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Subjects were genotyped, HapMap SNPs imputed, and age- sex- and hypertension-adjusted analyses performed. A meta-analysis was conducted using 1,335 cases of lone AF and 12,844 referents. A novel locus on chromosome 1q21 was identified, and the most significant SNP, rs13376333, had an adjusted odds ratio of 1.56 (P=6.3×10−12). This association was replicated in two cohorts with lone AF for an overall odds ratio of 1.52 (P=1.83×10−21). Rs13376333 is intronic to KCNN3, a potassium channel involved in atrial repolarization. KCNN3 represents a novel potential therapeutic target in the treatment of AF.
doi:10.1038/ng.537
PMCID: PMC2871387  PMID: 20173747
8.  Chronic Residential Exposure to Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Systemic Inflammatory Markers 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;117(8):1302-1308.
Background
Long-term exposure to urban air pollution may accelerate atherogenesis, but mechanisms are still unclear. The induction of a low-grade systemic inflammatory state is a plausible mechanistic pathway. Objectives: We analyzed the association of residential long-term exposure to particulate matter (PM) and high traffic with systemic inflammatory markers.
Methods
We used baseline data from the German Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study, a population-based, prospective cohort study of 4,814 participants that started in 2000. Fine PM [aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5)] exposure based on a small-scale dispersion and chemistry transport model was assigned to each home address. We calculated distances between residences and major roads. Long-term exposure to air pollution (annual PM2.5 and distance to high traffic) and concentration of inflammatory markers [high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and fibrinogen] on the day of the baseline visit were analyzed with sex-stratified multiple linear regression, controlling for individual-level risk factors.
Results
In the adjusted analysis, a cross-sectional exposure difference of 3.91 μg/m3 in PM2.5 (interdecile range) was associated with increases in hs-CRP of 23.9% [95% confidence interval (CI), 4.1 to 47.4%] and fibrinogen of 3.9% (95% CI, 0.3 to 7.7%) in men, whereas we found no association in women. Chronic traffic exposure was not associated with inflammatory markers. Short-term exposures to air pollutants and temperature did not influence the results markedly.
Conclusions
Our study indicates that long-term residential exposure to high levels of PM2.5 is associated with systemic inflammatory markers in men. This might provide a link between air pollution and coronary atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1289/ehp.0800362
PMCID: PMC2721876  PMID: 19672412
air quality; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology; inflammation; roadway proximity
9.  Comparison of Subclinical Coronary Atherosclerosis and Risk Factors in Unselected Populations in Germany and US-America 
Atherosclerosis  2007;195(1):e207-e216.
Background
On the basis of the Framingham risk algorithm, overestimation of clinical events has been reported in some European populations. Electron-beam computed tomography-derived quantification of coronary artery calcification (CAC) allows for noninvasive assessment of coronary atherosclerosis in the general population and may thus add important in vivo information on the path from risk factor exposure to formation of clinical events. The current study was undertaken to compare the relationship between risk factors and subclinical coronary atherosclerosis between non-Hispanic white cohorts in Germany and US-America, the hypothesis being that subclinical coronary atherosclerosis might be less prevalent in Europe at the same level of classical risk factor exposure.
Methods
The Heinz Nixdorf Recall (HNR) study, conducted in the German Ruhr area and the Epidemiology of Coronary Calcification (ECAC) study, conducted in Olmsted County, Minnesota, both recruited large unselected cohorts, men and women aged 45 – 74 years, from the general population. All subjects with no history of coronary artery disease (CAD) or stroke were included (n = 3,120 in HNR, n = 703 in ECAC). Coronary risk factors were assessed by personal and computer-assisted interviews and direct laboratory measurements. Cardiovascular medication use (antihypertensive, lipid-lowering, and anti-diabetic) was noted. CAC scores were determined using the Agatston method in an identical fashion in both studies.
Results
Adverse levels of risk factors were more prevalent, and the Framingham risk score was higher (10.6 ± 7.6 vs. 9.3 ± 7.1, p < 0.001) in HNR than ECAC, respectively. There was no difference in body mass index (BMI). CAC scores were greater in HNR than in ECAC (mean values, 155.7 ± 423.0 versus 107.2 ± 280.0; median values, 11.9 versus 2.4; p < 0.001, respectively). When subjects were matched on CAD risk factors, presence and quantity of CAC were similar in the 2 cohorts. Risk factors significantly associated with CAC score in both studies included: age, male sex, current and former smoking, systolic blood pressure, and non HDL-cholesterol. Inferences were similar after excluding subjects using lipid- or blood pressure-lowering medications. Using the same risk factor variables for modelling, the predicted CAC scores were comparable in both cohorts.
Conclusions
In the higher-risk German cohort, presence and quantity of CAC were greater than in the lower-risk US-American cohort. Risk factor associations, however, with CAC were very similar in both unselected populations. As opposed to studies concerning clinical endpoints, we could not demonstrate a relative increase in subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in the US-American cohort.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.04.009
PMCID: PMC2293130  PMID: 17532322
10.  Signs of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in relation to risk factor distribution in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR) 
European Heart Journal  2008;29(22):2782-2791.
Aims
Modern imaging technology allows us the visualization of coronary artery calcification (CAC), a marker of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. The prevalence, quantity, and risk factors for CAC were compared between two studies with similar imaging protocols but different source populations: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR).
Methods and results
The measured CAC in 2220 MESA participants were compared with those in 3126 HNR participants with the inclusion criteria such as age 45–75 years, Caucasian race, and free of baseline cardiovascular disease. Despite similar mean levels of CAC of 244.6 among participants in MESA and of 240.3 in HNR (P = 0.91), the prevalence of CAC > 0 was lower in MESA (52.6%) compared with HNR (67.0%) with a prevalence rate ratio of CAC > 0 of 0.78 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.72–0.85] after adjustment for known risk factors. Consequently, among participants with CAC > 0, the participants in MESA tended to have higher levels of CAC than those in HNR (ratio of CAC levels: 1.39; 95% CI: 1.19–1.63), since many HNR participants have small (near zero) CAC values.
Conclusions
The CAC prevalence was lower in the United States (MESA) cohort than in the German (HNR) cohort, which may be explained by more favourable risk factor levels among the MESA participants. The predictors for increased levels of CAC were, however, similar in both cohorts with the exception that male gender, blood pressure, and body mass index were more strongly associated in the HNR cohort.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehn439
PMCID: PMC2582985  PMID: 18845666
Epidemiology; Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Risk factors; Screening
11.  Coronary artery calcium screening: current status and recommendations from the European Society of Cardiac Radiology and North American Society for Cardiovascular Imaging 
Current guidelines and literature on screening for coronary artery calcium for cardiac risk assessment are reviewed for both general and special populations. It is shown that for both general and special populations a zero score excludes most clinically relevant coronary artery disease. The importance of standardization of coronary artery calcium measurements by multi-detector CT is discussed.
doi:10.1007/s10554-008-9319-z
PMCID: PMC2493606  PMID: 18504647
Coronary artery calcium; Coronary artery atherosclerosis; Coronary risk assessment; Coronary artery CT
12.  Neighbourhood socioeconomic status and cardiovascular risk factors: a multilevel analysis of nine cities in the Czech Republic and Germany 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:255.
Background
Previous studies have shown that deprived neighbourhoods have higher cardiovascular mortality and morbidity rates. Inequalities in the distribution of behaviour related risk factors are one possible explanation for this trend. In our study, we examined the association between cardiovascular risk factors and neighbourhood characteristics. To assess the consistency of associations the design is cross-national with data from nine industrial towns from the Czech Republic and Germany.
Methods
We combined datasets from two population based studies, one in Germany ('Heinz Nixdorf Recall (HNR) Study'), and one in the Czech Republic ('Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial Factors in Eastern Europe (HAPIEE) Study'). Participation rates were 56% in the HNR and 55% in the HAPIEE study. The subsample for this particular analysis consists of 11,554 men and women from nine German and Czech towns. Census based information on social characteristics of 326 neighbourhoods were collected from local administrative authorities. We used unemployment rate and overcrowding as area-level markers of socioeconomic status (SES). The cardiovascular risk factors obesity, hypertension, smoking and physical inactivity were used as response variables. Regression models were complemented by individual-level social status (education) and relevant covariates.
Results
Smoking, obesity and low physical activity were more common in deprived neighbourhoods in Germany, even when personal characteristics including individual education were controlled for. For hypertension associations were weak. In the Czech Republic associations were observed for smoking and physical inactivity, but not for obesity and hypertension when individual-level covariates were adjusted for. The strongest association was found for smoking in both countries: in the fully adjusted model the odds ratio for 'high unemployment rate' was 1.30 [95% CI 1.02–1.66] in the Czech Republic and 1.60 [95% CI 1.29–1.98] in Germany.
Conclusion
In this comparative study, the effects of neighbourhood deprivation varied by country and risk factor; the strongest and most consistent effects were found for smoking. Results indicate that area level SES is associated with health related lifestyles, which might be a possible pathway linking social status and cardiovascular disease. Individual-level education had a considerable influence on the association between neighbourhood characteristics and risk factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-255
PMCID: PMC2099437  PMID: 17888149
13.  Transient integral boundary layer method to calculate the translesional pressure drop and the fractional flow reserve in myocardial bridges 
Background
The pressure drop – flow relations in myocardial bridges and the assessment of vascular heart disease via fractional flow reserve (FFR) have motivated many researchers the last decades. The aim of this study is to simulate several clinical conditions present in myocardial bridges to determine the flow reserve and consequently the clinical relevance of the disease. From a fluid mechanical point of view the pathophysiological situation in myocardial bridges involves fluid flow in a time dependent flow geometry, caused by contracting cardiac muscles overlying an intramural segment of the coronary artery. These flows mostly involve flow separation and secondary motions, which are difficult to calculate and analyse.
Methods
Because a three dimensional simulation of the haemodynamic conditions in myocardial bridges in a network of coronary arteries is time-consuming, we present a boundary layer model for the calculation of the pressure drop and flow separation. The approach is based on the assumption that the flow can be sufficiently well described by the interaction of an inviscid core and a viscous boundary layer. Under the assumption that the idealised flow through a constriction is given by near-equilibrium velocity profiles of the Falkner-Skan-Cooke (FSC) family, the evolution of the boundary layer is obtained by the simultaneous solution of the Falkner-Skan equation and the transient von-Kármán integral momentum equation.
Results
The model was used to investigate the relative importance of several physical parameters present in myocardial bridges. Results have been obtained for steady and unsteady flow through vessels with 0 – 85% diameter stenosis. We compare two clinical relevant cases of a myocardial bridge in the middle segment of the left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD). The pressure derived FFR of fixed and dynamic lesions has shown that the flow is less affected in the dynamic case, because the distal pressure partially recovers during re-opening of the vessel in diastole. We have further calculated the wall shear stress (WSS) distributions in addition to the location and length of the flow reversal zones in dependence on the severity of the disease.
Conclusion
The described boundary layer method can be used to simulate frictional forces and wall shear stresses in the entrance region of vessels. Earlier models are supplemented by the viscous effects in a quasi three-dimensional vessel geometry with a prescribed wall motion. The results indicate that the translesional pressure drop and the mean FFR compares favourably to clinical findings in the literature. We have further shown that the mean FFR under the assumption of Hagen-Poiseuille flow is overestimated in developing flow conditions.
doi:10.1186/1475-925X-5-42
PMCID: PMC1564397  PMID: 16790065

Results 1-13 (13)