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1.  Evaluating the Contribution of the Cause of Kidney Disease to Prognosis in CKD: Results From the Study of Heart and Renal Protection (SHARP) 
Background
The relevance of the cause of kidney disease to prognosis among patients with chronic kidney disease is uncertain.
Study Design
Observational study.
Settings & Participants
6,245 nondialysis participants in the Study of Heart and Renal Protection (SHARP).
Predictor
Baseline cause of kidney disease was categorized into 4 groups: cystic kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy, glomerulonephritis, and other recorded diagnoses.
Outcomes
End-stage renal disease (ESRD; dialysis or transplantation) and death.
Results
During an average 4.7 years' follow-up, 2,080 participants progressed to ESRD, including 454 with cystic kidney disease (23% per year), 378 with glomerulonephritis (10% per year), 309 with diabetic nephropathy (12% per year), and 939 with other recorded diagnoses (8% per year). By comparison with patients with cystic kidney disease, other disease groups had substantially lower adjusted risks of ESRD (relative risks of 0.28 [95% CI, 0.24-0.32], 0.40 [95% CI, 0.34-0.47], and 0.29 [95% CI, 0.25-0.32] for glomerulonephritis, diabetic nephropathy, and other recorded diagnoses, respectively). Albuminuria and baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate were associated more weakly with risk of ESRD in patients with cystic kidney disease than the 3 other diagnostic categories (P for interaction, <0.001 and 0.01, respectively). Death before ESRD was uncommon in patients with cystic kidney disease, but was a major competing risk for participants with diabetic nephropathy, whose adjusted risk of death was 2-fold higher than that of the cystic kidney disease group (relative risk, 2.35 [95% CI, 1.73-3.18]).
Limitations
Exclusion of patients with prior myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization.
Conclusions
The cause of kidney disease has substantial prognostic implications. Other things being equal, patients with cystic kidney disease are at much higher risk of ESRD (and much lower risk of death before ESRD) than other patients. Patients with diabetic nephropathy are at particularly high risk of death prior to reaching ESRD.
doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2013.12.013
PMCID: PMC4068325  PMID: 24613056
Kidney disease etiology; disease trajectory; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); disease progression; prognosis; cystic kidney disease; risk factor
3.  Comparison of risk prediction using the CKD-EPI equation and the MDRD Study equation for estimated glomerular filtration rate 
JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association  2012;307(18):10.1001/jama.2012.3954.
Context
The CKD-EPI equation more accurately estimates glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) than the MDRD Study equation using the same variables, especially at higher GFR, but definitive evidence of its risk implications in diverse settings is lacking.
Objective
To evaluate risk implications of eGFRCKD-EPI compared to eGFRMDRD in populations with a broad range of demographic and clinical characteristics.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Meta-analyses based on data from 1,130,472 adults (aged 18 years or older) from 25 general population, 7 high-risk (of vascular disease), and 13 chronic kidney disease (CKD) cohorts. Data transfer and analyses were conducted between March 2011 and March 2012.
Main Outcome Measures
All-cause mortality (84,482 deaths from 40 cohorts), cardiovascular mortality (22,176 events from 28 cohorts), and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) (7,644 events from 21 cohorts) during 9.4 million person-years of follow-up (median of mean follow-up time across cohorts was 7.4 years).
Results
eGFR was classified into six categories (≥90, 60-89, 45-59, 30-44, 15-29, and <15 ml/min/1.73m2) by both equations. Compared to eGFRMDRD, 24.4% and 0.6% of participants from general population cohorts were reclassified to a higher and lower eGFR category by the CKD-EPI equation, respectively, and the prevalence of CKD stage 3-5 (eGFR <60 ml/min/1.73m2) was reduced from 8.7% to 6.3%. 34.7% of participants with eGFRMDRD 45-59 were reclassified to eGFRCKD-EPI 60-89 and had lower incidence rates (per 1,000 person-years) of outcomes compared to those not reclassified (9.9 vs. 34.5 for all-cause mortality, 2.7 vs. 13.0 for cardiovascular mortality, and 0.5 vs. 0.8 for ESRD). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios were 0.80 (95% confidence interval, 0.74 to 0.86) for all-cause mortality, 0.73 (0.65 to 0.82) for cardiovascular mortality, and 0.49 (0.27 to 0.88) for ESRD. Similar findings were observed in other eGFRMDRD categories. Net reclassification improvement (NRI) based on eGFR categories was significantly positive for all outcomes (range from 0.06 to 0.13, all P<0.001). NRI was similarly positive in most subgroups defined by age (< and ≥65 years), sex, race/ethnicity (white, Asian, and black), and presence or absence of diabetes and hypertension. The results in high-risk and CKD cohorts were largely consistent with the general population cohorts.
Conclusions
The CKD-EPI equation classified fewer individuals as CKD and more accurately categorized the risk for mortality and ESRD than did the MDRD Study equation across a broad range of populations.
doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3954
PMCID: PMC3837430  PMID: 22570462
4.  Campath, calcineurin inhibitor reduction and chronic allograft nephropathy (3C) study: background, rationale, and study protocol 
Background
Kidney transplantation is the best treatment for patients with end-stage renal failure, but uncertainty remains about the best immunosuppression strategy. Long-term graft survival has not improved substantially, and one possible explanation is calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) nephrotoxicity. CNI exposure could be minimized by using more potent induction therapy or alternative maintenance therapy to remove CNIs completely. However, the safety and efficacy of such strategies are unknown.
Methods/Design
The Campath, Calcineurin inhibitor reduction and Chronic allograft nephropathy (3C) Study is a multicentre, open-label, randomized controlled trial with 852 participants which is addressing two important questions in kidney transplantation. The first question is whether a Campath (alemtuzumab)-based induction therapy strategy is superior to basiliximab-based therapy, and the second is whether, from 6 months after transplantation, a sirolimus-based maintenance therapy strategy is superior to tacrolimus-based therapy. Recruitment is complete, and follow-up will continue for around 5 years post-transplant. The primary endpoint for the induction therapy comparison is biopsy-proven acute rejection by 6 months, and the primary endpoint for the maintenance therapy comparison is change in estimated glomerular filtration rate from baseline to 2 years after transplantation. The study is sponsored by the University of Oxford and endorsed by the British Transplantation Society, and 18 centers for adult kidney transplant are participating.
Discussion
Late graft failure is a major issue for kidney-transplant recipients. If our hypothesis that minimizing CNI exposure with Campath-based induction therapy and/or an elective conversion to sirolimus-based maintenance therapy can improve long-term graft function and survival is correct, then patients should experience better graft function for longer. A positive outcome could change clinical practice in kidney transplantation.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01120028 and ISRCTN88894088
doi:10.1186/2047-1440-2-7
PMCID: PMC3674985  PMID: 23641902
Kidney transplantation; Alemtuzumab; Campath; Sirolimus; Randomized controlled trial; Basiliximab; Tacrolimus
5.  Effect of Statins on Venous Thromboembolic Events: A Meta-analysis of Published and Unpublished Evidence from Randomised Controlled Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001310.
A systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by Kazem Rahimi and colleagues re-evaluates the hypothesis, generated in previous studies, that statins may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events. Their meta-analysis does not support the previous findings.
Background
It has been suggested that statins substantially reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events. We sought to test this hypothesis by performing a meta-analysis of both published and unpublished results from randomised trials of statins.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane CENTRAL up to March 2012 for randomised controlled trials comparing statin with no statin, or comparing high dose versus standard dose statin, with 100 or more randomised participants and at least 6 months' follow-up. Investigators were contacted for unpublished information about venous thromboembolic events during follow-up. Twenty-two trials of statin versus control (105,759 participants) and seven trials of an intensive versus a standard dose statin regimen (40,594 participants) were included. In trials of statin versus control, allocation to statin therapy did not significantly reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events (465 [0.9%] statin versus 521 [1.0%] control, odds ratio [OR] = 0.89, 95% CI 0.78–1.01, p = 0.08) with no evidence of heterogeneity between effects on deep vein thrombosis (266 versus 311, OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.72–1.01) and effects on pulmonary embolism (205 versus 222, OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.76–1.12). Exclusion of the trial result that provided the motivation for our meta-analysis (JUPITER) had little impact on the findings for venous thromboembolic events (431 [0.9%] versus 461 [1.0%], OR = 0.93 [95% CI 0.82–1.07], p = 0.32 among the other 21 trials). There was no evidence that higher dose statin therapy reduced the risk of venous thromboembolic events compared with standard dose statin therapy (198 [1.0%] versus 202 [1.0%], OR = 0.98, 95% CI 0.80–1.20, p = 0.87). Risk of bias overall was small but a certain degree of effect underestimation due to random error cannot be ruled out.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Conclusions
The findings from this meta-analysis do not support the previous suggestion of a large protective effect of statins (or higher dose statins) on venous thromboembolic events. However, a more moderate reduction in risk up to about one-fifth cannot be ruled out.
Editors' Summary
Background
Blood normally flows smoothly throughout the human body, supplying its organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But, when an injury occurs, proteins called clotting factors make the blood gel (coagulate) at the injury site. The resultant blood clot (thrombus) plugs the wound and prevents blood loss. Occasionally, however, a thrombus forms inside an uninjured blood vessel and partly or completely blocks the blood flow. A clot inside one of the veins (vessels that take blood towards the heart) deep within the body is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms of DVT (which usually occurs in the leg) include pain, swelling, and redness in the affected limb. DVT is treated with heparin and warfarin, two anticoagulant drugs that stop the blood clot growing. If left untreated, part of the clot (an embolus) can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE), a life-threatening condition characterized by chest pain, breathlessness, coughing, and dizziness. Little is known about how to prevent DVTs and PEs but risk factors for these venous thromboembolic events include having an inherited blood clotting disorder, oral contraceptive use, having surgery, and prolonged inactivity (on long-haul plane flights, for example).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2009, a secondary (add-on) analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT, a study that randomly assigns individuals to receive different treatments and compares the outcomes associated with each treatment) called the JUPITER trial reported that rosuvastatin—a cholesterol-lowering drug (statin)—halved the risk of venous thromboembolic events among apparently healthy adults. The JUPITER trial was initiated to test whether statins reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases (conditions that involve the heart and the blood vessels) among adults with raised levels of a predictor for these diseases called C-reactive protein; statins reduce the levels of this protein as well as those of cholesterol. Because fewer than 100 of the participants in the JUPITER trial developed a DVT or PE, the reduction in the risk of a venous thromboembolic event among the participants who took rosuvastatin could have happened by chance. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 29 RCTs of statins that collected information on many more venous thromboembolic events, the researchers test the hypothesis that statins substantially reduce the risk of such events. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 22 RCTs (105,759 participants) that compared the effects of statins with control (dummy) tablets and seven (40,594 participants) that compared an intensive statin regimen with a standard regimen. They then obtained largely unpublished information about the venous thromboembolic events that occurred during these trials (about 1,000 DVTs and PEs) from the original investigators. In the trials of statin versus control, allocation to statin therapy did not significantly reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events. Thus, although events occurred in 465 participants who were given statins (0.9% of the participants) and in 521 participants who were given control tablets (1% of the participants), this difference in outcomes was not statistically significant—it could have happened by chance. Exclusion of the JUPITER trial results from the meta-analysis did not alter this finding. The researchers also found no evidence that intensive statin therapy reduced the risk of venous thromboembolic events compared to standard therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this meta-analysis do not support the suggestion that statins, either at the standard dose or at higher doses, reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events substantially among healthy adults. It is possible that the effect of statins has been underestimated in this meta-analysis because of missing data or because of some other source of bias. Furthermore, because the total number of events in this meta-analysis is still relatively modest, these findings do not rule out the possibility that statins may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events by up to about one-fifth in some or all individuals. Additional large RCTs are now needed to investigate whether statin treatment does in fact reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events in adults and, if it does, whether all statins have a similar effect and whether statin treatment is beneficial in everyone or only in specific subgroups of people.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001310.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Frits Rosendaal
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on deep vein thrombosis (including an animation about how DVT causes pulmonary embolisms), and information on pulmonary embolism
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information on deep vein thrombosis, including personal stories, on pulmonary embolism, and on statins; a Behind the Headlines article describes the JUPITER trial and its implications
The non-profit organization US National Blood Clot Alliance provides detailed information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism for patients and professionals and includes a selection of personal stories about these conditions
MedlinePlus has links to further information about deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and statins (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001310
PMCID: PMC3445446  PMID: 23028261
6.  Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate and the Risk of Major Vascular Events and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25920.
Background
Lower estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) has been associated with an increased risk of major vascular events (MVEs) and death, but differences in methodology make between-study comparisons difficult. We used a novel method to summarise the published results.
Methods and Findings
Studies assessing the relationship between baseline eGFR and subsequent MVEs or all cause mortality were identified using Pubmed. Those which involved at least 500 individuals, planned at least 1 year of follow-up, reported age and sex adjusted relative risks, and provided the mean eGFR in each category (or sufficient information to allow its estimation) were included. To take account of differences in underlying risk between studies, proportional within-study differences in eGFR (rather than absolute eGFR values) were related to risk. Fifty studies (2 million participants) assessing MVEs and 67 studies (5 million participants) assessing all cause mortality were eligible. There was an inverse relationship between lower eGFR and the risk of MVEs and of death. In studies among people without prior vascular disease, a 30% lower eGFR level was on average associated with a 29% (SE 0.2%) increase in the risk of a MVE and a 31% (SE 0.2%) increase in the risk of death from any cause. In studies among people with prior vascular disease, these estimates were 26% (SE 1.0%) and 23% (SE 0.2%) respectively. While there was substantial statistical heterogeneity between the results of individual studies, a 30% lower eGFR was consistently associated with a 20-30% higher risk of both outcomes, irrespective of prior history of vascular disease or study design.
Conclusions
Lower eGFR was consistently associated with a moderate increase in the risk of death and MVEs. If these relationships are causal and continuous, then around one fifth of vascular events among those over 70 years might be attributable to renal impairment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025920
PMCID: PMC3198450  PMID: 22039429
7.  The effects of lowering LDL cholesterol with simvastatin plus ezetimibe in patients with chronic kidney disease (Study of Heart and Renal Protection): a randomised placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9784):2181-2192.
Summary
Background
Lowering LDL cholesterol with statin regimens reduces the risk of myocardial infarction, ischaemic stroke, and the need for coronary revascularisation in people without kidney disease, but its effects in people with moderate-to-severe kidney disease are uncertain. The SHARP trial aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of the combination of simvastatin plus ezetimibe in such patients.
Methods
This randomised double-blind trial included 9270 patients with chronic kidney disease (3023 on dialysis and 6247 not) with no known history of myocardial infarction or coronary revascularisation. Patients were randomly assigned to simvastatin 20 mg plus ezetimibe 10 mg daily versus matching placebo. The key prespecified outcome was first major atherosclerotic event (non-fatal myocardial infarction or coronary death, non-haemorrhagic stroke, or any arterial revascularisation procedure). All analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00125593, and ISRCTN54137607.
Findings
4650 patients were assigned to receive simvastatin plus ezetimibe and 4620 to placebo. Allocation to simvastatin plus ezetimibe yielded an average LDL cholesterol difference of 0·85 mmol/L (SE 0·02; with about two-thirds compliance) during a median follow-up of 4·9 years and produced a 17% proportional reduction in major atherosclerotic events (526 [11·3%] simvastatin plus ezetimibe vs 619 [13·4%] placebo; rate ratio [RR] 0·83, 95% CI 0·74–0·94; log-rank p=0·0021). Non-significantly fewer patients allocated to simvastatin plus ezetimibe had a non-fatal myocardial infarction or died from coronary heart disease (213 [4·6%] vs 230 [5·0%]; RR 0·92, 95% CI 0·76–1·11; p=0·37) and there were significant reductions in non-haemorrhagic stroke (131 [2·8%] vs 174 [3·8%]; RR 0·75, 95% CI 0·60–0·94; p=0·01) and arterial revascularisation procedures (284 [6·1%] vs 352 [7·6%]; RR 0·79, 95% CI 0·68–0·93; p=0·0036). After weighting for subgroup-specific reductions in LDL cholesterol, there was no good evidence that the proportional effects on major atherosclerotic events differed from the summary rate ratio in any subgroup examined, and, in particular, they were similar in patients on dialysis and those who were not. The excess risk of myopathy was only two per 10 000 patients per year of treatment with this combination (9 [0·2%] vs 5 [0·1%]). There was no evidence of excess risks of hepatitis (21 [0·5%] vs 18 [0·4%]), gallstones (106 [2·3%] vs 106 [2·3%]), or cancer (438 [9·4%] vs 439 [9·5%], p=0·89) and there was no significant excess of death from any non-vascular cause (668 [14·4%] vs 612 [13·2%], p=0·13).
Interpretation
Reduction of LDL cholesterol with simvastatin 20 mg plus ezetimibe 10 mg daily safely reduced the incidence of major atherosclerotic events in a wide range of patients with advanced chronic kidney disease.
Funding
Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals; Australian National Health and Medical Research Council; British Heart Foundation; UK Medical Research Council.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60739-3
PMCID: PMC3145073  PMID: 21663949
8.  Prediction of ESRD and Death Among People With CKD: The Chronic Renal Impairment in Birmingham (CRIB) Prospective Cohort Study 
American Journal of Kidney Diseases  2010;56(6-2):1082-1094.
Background
Validated prediction scores are required to assess the risks of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and death in individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Study Design
Prospective cohort study with validation in a separate cohort.
Setting & Participants
Cox regression was used to assess the relevance of baseline characteristics to risk of ESRD (mean follow-up, 4.1 years) and death (mean follow-up, 6.0 years) in 382 patients with stages 3-5 CKD not initially on dialysis therapy in the Chronic Renal Impairment in Birmingham (CRIB) Study. Resultant risk prediction equations were tested in a separate cohort of 213 patients with CKD (the East Kent cohort).
Factors
44 baseline characteristics (including 30 blood and urine assays).
Outcomes
ESRD and all-cause mortality.
Results
In the CRIB cohort, 190 patients reached ESRD (12.1%/y) and 150 died (6.5%/y). Each 30% lower baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate was associated with a 3-fold higher ESRD rate and a 1.3-fold higher death rate. After adjustment for each other, only baseline creatinine level, serum phosphate level, urinary albumin-creatinine ratio, and female sex remained strongly (P < 0.01) predictive of ESRD. For death, age, N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, troponin T level, and cigarette smoking remained strongly predictive of risk. Using these factors to predict outcomes in the East Kent cohort yielded an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ie, C statistic) of 0.91 (95% CI, 0.87-0.96) for ESRD and 0.82 (95% CI, 0.75-0.89) for death.
Limitations
Other important factors may have been missed because of limited study power.
Conclusions
Simple laboratory measures of kidney and cardiac function plus age, sex, and smoking history can be used to help identify patients with CKD at highest risk of ESRD and death. Larger cohort studies are required to further validate these results.
doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2010.07.016
PMCID: PMC2991589  PMID: 21035932
Chronic kidney disease; risk prediction; outcomes; death; end-stage renal disease
9.  Life expectancy in relation to cardiovascular risk factors: 38 year follow-up of 19 000 men in the Whitehall study 
Objective To assess life expectancy in relation to cardiovascular risk factors recorded in middle age.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Men employed in the civil service in London, England.
Participants 18 863 men examined at entry in 1967-70 and followed for 38 years, of whom 13 501 died and 4811 were re-examined in 1997.
Main outcome measures Life expectancy estimated in relation to fifths and dichotomous categories of risk factors (smoking, “low” or “high” blood pressure (≥140 mm Hg), and “low” or “high” cholesterol (≥5 mmol/l)), and a risk score from these risk factors.
Results At entry, 42% of the men were current smokers, 39% had high blood pressure, and 51% had high cholesterol. At the re-examination, about two thirds of the previously “current” smokers had quit smoking shortly after entry and the mean differences in levels of those with high and low levels of blood pressure and cholesterol were attenuated by two thirds. Compared with men without any baseline risk factors, the presence of all three risk factors at entry was associated with a 10 year shorter life expectancy from age 50 (23.7 v 33.3 years). Compared with men in the lowest 5% of a risk score based on smoking, diabetes, employment grade, and continuous levels of blood pressure, cholesterol concentration, and body mass index (BMI), men in the highest 5% had a 15 year shorter life expectancy from age 50 (20.2 v 35.4 years).
Conclusion Despite substantial changes in these risk factors over time, baseline differences in risk factors were associated with 10 to 15 year shorter life expectancy from age 50.
doi:10.1136/bmj.b3513
PMCID: PMC2746269  PMID: 19762417
10.  The prevalence of chronic diseases and major disease risk factors at different ages among 150 000 men and women living in Mexico City: cross-sectional analyses of a prospective study 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:9.
Background
While most of the global burden from chronic diseases, and especially vascular diseases, is now borne by low and middle-income countries, few large-scale epidemiological studies of chronic diseases in such countries have been performed.
Methods
From 1998–2004, 52 584 men and 106 962 women aged ≥35 years were visited in their homes in Mexico City. Self reported diagnoses of chronic diseases and major disease risk factors were ascertained and physical measurements taken. Age- and sex-specific prevalences and means were analysed.
Results
After about age 50 years, diabetes was extremely common – for example, 23.8% of men and 26.9% of women aged 65–74 reported a diagnosis. By comparison, ischaemic heart disease was reported by 4.8% of men and 3.0% of women aged 65–74, a history of stroke by 2.8% and 2.3%, respectively, and a history of cancer by 1.3% and 2.1%. Cancer history was generally more common among women than men – the excess being largest in middle-age, due to breast and cervical cancer. At older ages, the gap narrowed because of an increasing prevalence of prostate cancer. 51% of men and 25% of women aged 35–54 smoked cigarettes, while 29% of men and 41% of women aged 35–54 were obese (i.e. BMI ≥30 kg/m2). The prevalence of treated hypertension or measured blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg increased about 50% more steeply with age among women than men, to 66% of women and 58% of men aged 65–74. Physical inactivity was highly prevalent but daily alcohol drinking was relatively uncommon.
Conclusion
Diabetes, obesity and tobacco smoking are highly prevalent among adults living in Mexico City. Long-term follow-up of this and other cohorts will establish the relevance of such factors to the major causes of death and disability in Mexico.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-9
PMCID: PMC2645387  PMID: 19134207
11.  Effect of Alcohol on Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke: Causality, Bias, or a Bit of Both? 
Epidemiological studies of middle-aged populations generally find the relationship between alcohol intake and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke to be either U- or J-shaped. This review describes the extent that these relationships are likely to be causal, and the extent that they may be due to specific methodological weaknesses in epidemiological studies. The consistency in the vascular benefit associated with moderate drinking (compared with non-drinking) observed across different studies, together with the existence of credible biological pathways, strongly suggests that at least some of this benefit is real. However, because of biases introduced by: choice of reference categories; reverse causality bias; variations in alcohol intake over time; and confounding, some of it is likely to be an artefact. For heavy drinking, different study biases have the potential to act in opposing directions, and as such, the true effects of heavy drinking on vascular risk are uncertain. However, because of the known harmful effects of heavy drinking on non-vascular mortality, the problem is an academic one. Studies of the effects of alcohol consumption on health outcomes should recognise the methodological biases they are likely to face, and design, analyse and interpret their studies accordingly. While regular moderate alcohol consumption during middle-age probably does reduce vascular risk, care should be taken when making general recommendations about safe levels of alcohol intake. In particular, it is likely that any promotion of alcohol for health reasons would do substantially more harm than good.
PMCID: PMC1993990  PMID: 17326330
alcohol; coronary heart disease; stroke
12.  Do selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors and traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increase the risk of atherothrombosis? Meta-analysis of randomised trials 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7553):1302-1308.
Objective To assess the effects of selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX 2) inhibitors and traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on the risk of vascular events.
Design Meta-analysis of published and unpublished tabular data from randomised trials, with indirect estimation of the effects of traditional NSAIDs.
Data sources Medline and Embase (January 1966 to April 2005); Food and Drug Administration records; and data on file from Novartis, Pfizer, and Merck.
Review methods Eligible studies were randomised trials that included a comparison of a selective COX 2 inhibitor versus placebo or a selective COX 2 inhibitor versus a traditional NSAID, of at least four weeks' duration, with information on serious vascular events (defined as myocardial infarction, stroke, or vascular death). Individual investigators and manufacturers provided information on the number of patients randomised, numbers of vascular events, and the person time of follow-up for each randomised group.
Results In placebo comparisons, allocation to a selective COX 2 inhibitor was associated with a 42% relative increase in the incidence of serious vascular events (1.2%/year v 0.9%/year; rate ratio 1.42, 95% confidence interval 1.13 to 1.78; P = 0.003), with no significant heterogeneity among the different selective COX 2 inhibitors. This was chiefly attributable to an increased risk of myocardial infarction (0.6%/year v 0.3%/year; 1.86, 1.33 to 2.59; P = 0.0003), with little apparent difference in other vascular outcomes. Among trials of at least one year's duration (mean 2.7 years), the rate ratio for vascular events was 1.45 (1.12 to 1.89; P = 0.005). Overall, the incidence of serious vascular events was similar between a selective COX 2 inhibitor and any traditional NSAID (1.0%/year v 0.9%/year; 1.16, 0.97 to 1.38; P = 0.1). However, statistical heterogeneity (P = 0.001) was found between trials of a selective COX 2 inhibitor versus naproxen (1.57, 1.21 to 2.03) and of a selective COX 2 inhibitor versus non-naproxen NSAIDs (0.88, 0.69 to 1.12). The summary rate ratio for vascular events, compared with placebo, was 0.92 (0.67 to 1.26) for naproxen, 1.51 (0.96 to 2.37) for ibuprofen, and 1.63 (1.12 to 2.37) for diclofenac.
Conclusions Selective COX 2 inhibitors are associated with a moderate increase in the risk of vascular events, as are high dose regimens of ibuprofen and diclofenac, but high dose naproxen is not associated with such an excess.
PMCID: PMC1473048  PMID: 16740558
13.  Passive smoking and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: prospective study with cotinine measurement 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7459):200-205.
Objective To examine the associations between a biomarker of overall passive exposure to tobacco smoke (serum cotinine concentration) and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Design Prospective population based study in general practice (the British regional heart study).
Participants 4729 men in 18 towns who provided baseline blood samples (for cotinine assay) and a detailed smoking history in 1978-80.
Main outcome measure Major coronary heart disease and stroke events (fatal and non-fatal) during 20 years of follow up.
Results 2105 men who said they did not smoke and who had cotinine concentrations < 14.1 ng/ml were divided into four equal sized groups on the basis of cotinine concentrations. Relative hazards (95% confidence intervals) for coronary heart disease in the second (0.8-1.4 ng/ml), third (1.5-2.7 ng/ml), and fourth (2.8-14.0 ng/ml) quarters of cotinine concentration compared with the first (≥ 0.7 ng/ml) were 1.45 (1.01 to 2.08), 1.49 (1.03 to 2.14), and 1.57 (1.08 to 2.28), respectively, after adjustment for established risk factors for coronary heart disease. Hazard ratios (for cotinine 0.8-14.0 ν ≥ 0.7 ng/ml) were particularly increased during the first (3.73, 1.32 to 10.58) and second five year follow up periods (1.95, 1.09 to 3.48) compared with later periods. There was no consistent association between cotinine concentration and risk of stroke.
Conclusion Studies based on reports of smoking in a partner alone seem to underestimate the risks of exposure to passive smoking. Further prospective studies relating biomarkers of passive smoking to risk of coronary heart disease are needed.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38146.427188.55
PMCID: PMC487731  PMID: 15229131
14.  Predictive accuracy of the Framingham coronary risk score in British men: prospective cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;327(7426):1267.
Objective To establish the predictive accuracy of the Framingham risk score for coronary heart disease in a representative British population.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting 24 towns in the United Kingdom.
Participants 6643 British men aged 40-59 years and free from cardiovascular disease at entry into the British regional heart study.
Main outcome measures Comparison of observed 10 year coronary heart disease mortality and event rates with predicted rates for each individual, using the relevant Framingham risk equation.
Results Of 6643 men, 2.8% (95% confidence interval 2.4% to 3.2%) died from coronary heart disease compared with 4.1% predicted (relative overestimation 47%, P < 0.0001). A fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease event occurred in 10.2% (9.5% to 10.9%) of the men compared with 16.0% predicted (relative overestimation 57%, P < 0.0001). These relative degrees of overestimation were similar at all levels of coronary heart disease risk, so that overestimation of absolute risk was greatest for those at highest risk. A simple adjustment provided an improved level of accuracy. In a “high risk score” approach, most cases occur in the low risk group. In this case, 84% of the deaths from coronary heart disease and non-fatal events occurred in the 93% of men classified at low risk (< 30% in 10 years) by the Framingham score.
Conclusion Guidelines for the primary prevention of coronary heart disease advocate offering preventive measures to individuals at high risk. Currently recommended risk scoring methods derived from the Framingham study significantly overestimate the absolute coronary risk assigned to individuals in the United Kingdom.
PMCID: PMC286248  PMID: 14644971
15.  Evidence for the Prevention and Treatment of Stroke in Dialysis Patients 
Seminars in Dialysis  2014;28(1):35-47.
The risks of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke are particularly high in dialysis patients of any age and outcomes are poor. It is therefore important to identify strategies that safely minimize stroke risk in this population. Observational studies have been unable to clarify the relative importance of traditional stroke risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol in those on dialysis, and are affected by biases that usually make them an inappropriate source of data on which to base therapeutic decisions. Well-conducted randomized trials are not susceptible to such biases and can reliably investigate the causal nature of the association between a potential risk factor and the outcome of interest. However, dialysis patients have been under-represented in the cardiovascular trials which have proven net benefit of commonly used preventative treatments (e.g., antihypertensive treatments, low-dose aspirin, carotid revascularization, and thromboprophylaxis for atrial fibrillation), and there remains uncertainty about safety and efficacy of many of these treatments in this high-risk population. Moreover, the efficacy of renal-specific therapies that might reduce cardiovascular risk, such as modulators of mineral and bone disorder, online hemodiafiltration, and daily (nocturnal) hemodialysis, have not been tested in adequately powered trials. Recent trials have also demonstrated how widespread current practices could be causing stroke. Therefore, it is important that reliable information on the prevention and treatment of stroke (and other cardiovascular disease) in dialysis patients is generated by performing large-scale randomized trials of many current and future treatments.
doi:10.1111/sdi.12281
PMCID: PMC4320775  PMID: 25040468

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