Endogenous ouabain (EO) has been linked with long-term changes in sodium balance and cardiovascular structure and function. The biosynthesis of EO involves, cholesterol side-chain cleavage (CYP11A1), 3-β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD3B) with sequential metabolism of pregnenolone and progesterone. Furthermore, the renal excretion of cardiac glycosides is mediated by the organic anion transporter (SLCO4C1) at the basolateral membrane and the P-glycoprotein (PGP) (encoded by MDR1) at the apical membrane of the nephron.
Average 24-h ambulatory blood pressures were recorded in 729 untreated essential hypertensives. Aldosterone (Aldo), EO, urinary Na+, and K+ excretions were determined. Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and haplotype-based association study was performed with a total of 26 informative SNPs.
Plasma EO was significantly directly related to both day (r = 0.131, P < 0.01) and nighttime diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (r = 0.143, P < 0.01), and remained significantly related after correction for confounders (sex, body mass index, age). Genotype analysis for EO levels and daytime DBP gave significant results for CYP11A1 rs11638442 and MDR1 rs1045642 (T/C Ile1145) in which the minor allele tracked with higher EO levels (T/T 210.3 (147–272) vs. C/C 270.7 (193–366) pmol/l, P < 0.001). Association was found between HSD3B1 polymorphisms and/or haplotypes with blood pressure (systolic blood pressure (SBP) 140.3 (11.7) vs. 143.8 (11.2) mm Hg, P < 0.01) and plasma Aldo (P < 0.05). Haplotype-based analyses support the data of SNP analysis.
Among patients with essential hypertension, cholesterol side-chain cleavage and MDR1 loci are related to circulating EO and DBP, most likely by influencing EO synthesis and transmembrane transport, respectively. In contrast, variants in HSD3B1 are related with SBP probably via Aldo.
As arteries become stiffer with aging, reflected waves move faster and augment late systolic pressure. Few studies have described the age-related changes in both peripheral and central systolic blood pressures in populations. We investigated the age dependency of peripheral (pSBP) and central (cSBP) systolic pressure and pressure amplification (i.e., difference between peripheral and central SBP) in randomly selected participants from European and Chinese populations. Data were collected in 1420 Europeans (mean age, 41.7 years) and 2044 (mean age, 45.1 years) Chinese. In cross-sectional analyses of the population samples cSBP consistently increased more with age than pSBP with the age-related increases being greater in women than men. Repeat assessment of pSBP and cSBP in 398 Europeans and 699 Chinese at a median interval approximately 4 years of follow-up confirmed that also within subjects cSBP rose steeper with aging than pSBP. In conclusion, with aging, pSBP approximates to cSBP. This might explain why in older subjects pSBP becomes the main predictor of cardiovascular complications.
aging; central blood pressure; peripheral blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; risk factors; epidemiology
The epidemic surge in hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa is not matched by clinical trials of antihypertensive agents in Black patients recruited in this area of the world. We mounted the Newer versus Older Antihypertensive agents in African Hypertensive patients (NOAAH) trial to compare, in native African patients, a single-pill combination of newer drugs, not involving a diuretic, with a combination of older drugs including a diuretic.
Patients aged 30 to 69 years with uncomplicated hypertension (140 to 179/90 to 109 mmHg) and ≤2 associated risk factors are eligible. After a four week run-in period off treatment, 180 patients have to be randomized to once daily bisoprolol/hydrochlorothiazide 5/6.25 mg (R) or amlodipine/valsartan 5/160 mg (E). To attain blood pressure <140/<90 mmHg during six months, the doses of bisoprolol and amlodipine should be increased to 10 mg/day with the possible addition of up to 2 g/day α-methyldopa.
At the time of writing of this progress report, of 206 patients enrolled in the run-in period, 140 had been randomized. At randomization, the R and E groups were similar (P ≥ 0.11) with respect to mean age (50.7 years), body mass index (28.2 kg/m2), blood pressure (153.9/91.5 mmHg) and the proportions of women (53.6%) and treatment naïve patients (72.7%). After randomization, in the R and E groups combined, blood pressure dropped by 18.2/10.1 mmHg, 19.4/11.2 mmHg, 22.4/12.2 mmHg and 25.8/15.2 mmHg at weeks two (n = 122), four (n = 109), eight (n = 57), and 12 (n = 49), respectively. The control rate was >65% already at two weeks. At 12 weeks, 12 patients (24.5%) had progressed to the higher dose of R or E and/or had α-methyldopa added. Cohort analyses of 49 patients up to 12 weeks were confirmatory. Only two patients dropped out of the study.
NOAAH (NCT01030458) demonstrated that blood pressure control can be achieved fast in Black patients born and living in Africa with a simple regimen consisting of a single-pill combination of two antihypertensive agents. NOAAH proves that randomized clinical trials of cardiovascular drugs in the indigenous populations of sub-Saharan Africa are feasible.
Antihypertensive therapy; Health policy and outcome research; Randomized clinical trial; Special populations
The aim of this study was to investigate the heritability as well as genetic and environmental correlations of left ventricular (LV) structural and functional traits in complex pedigrees of a Caucasian population.
Methods and results
We randomly recruited 459 white European subjects from 52 families (50% women; mean age 45 years). LV structure was measured by M-mode and 2D echocardiography and LV function was measured by conventional Doppler and tissue Doppler imaging (TDI). Other measurements included blood pressure, anthropometric, and biochemical measurements. We estimated the heritability of LV traits while adjusting for covariables, including sex, age, body height and weight, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and heart rate. With full adjustment, heritability of LV mass was 0.23 (P= 0.025). The TDI-derived mitral annular velocities Ea and Aa showed moderate heritability (h2= 0.36 and 0.53, respectively), whereas the mitral inflow A peak had weak heritability (h2 = 0.25) and the E peak was not heritable (h2 = 0.11). We partitioned the total phenotypic correlation when it reached significance, into a genetic and an environmental component. The genetic correlations were 0.61 between the E and Ea peaks and 0.90 between the A and Aa peaks.
Our study demonstrated moderate heritability for LV mass as well as the mitral annular Ea and Aa peaks. We also found significant genetic correlations between the E and Ea peaks and between the A and Aa peaks. Our current findings support the ongoing research to map and detect genetic variants that contribute to the variation in LV mass and other LV structural and functional phenotypes.
Echocardiography; Heritability; Left ventricular phenotypes; Population science
Brachial circumference (BC), also known as upper arm or mid arm circumference, can be used as an indicator of muscle mass and fat tissue, which are distributed differently in men and women. Analysis of anthropometric measures of peripheral fat distribution such as BC could help in understanding the complex pathophysiology behind overweight and obesity. The purpose of this study is to identify genetic variants associated with BC through a large-scale genome-wide association scan (GWAS) meta-analysis. We used fixed-effects meta-analysis to synthesise summary results across 14 GWAS discovery and 4 replication cohorts comprising overall 22,376 individuals (12,031 women and 10,345 men) of European ancestry. Individual analyses were carried out for men, women, and combined across sexes using linear regression and an additive genetic model: adjusted for age and adjusted for age and BMI. We prioritised signals for follow-up in two-stages. We did not detect any signals reaching genome-wide significance. The FTO rs9939609 SNP showed nominal evidence for association (p<0.05) in the age-adjusted strata for men and across both sexes. In this first GWAS meta-analysis for BC to date, we have not identified any genome-wide significant signals and do not observe robust association of previously established obesity loci with BC. Large-scale collaborations will be necessary to achieve higher power to detect loci underlying BC.
An Individual Patient Data (IPD) meta-analysis is often considered the gold-standard for synthesising survival data from clinical trials. An IPD meta-analysis can be achieved by either a two-stage or a one-stage approach, depending on whether the trials are analysed separately or simultaneously. A range of one-stage hierarchical Cox models have been previously proposed, but these are known to be computationally intensive and are not currently available in all standard statistical software. We describe an alternative approach using Poisson based Generalised Linear Models (GLMs).
We illustrate, through application and simulation, the Poisson approach both classically and in a Bayesian framework, in two-stage and one-stage approaches. We outline the benefits of our one-stage approach through extension to modelling treatment-covariate interactions and non-proportional hazards. Ten trials of hypertension treatment, with all-cause death the outcome of interest, are used to apply and assess the approach.
We show that the Poisson approach obtains almost identical estimates to the Cox model, is additionally computationally efficient and directly estimates the baseline hazard. Some downward bias is observed in classical estimates of the heterogeneity in the treatment effect, with improved performance from the Bayesian approach.
Our approach provides a highly flexible and computationally efficient framework, available in all standard statistical software, to the investigation of not only heterogeneity, but the presence of non-proportional hazards and treatment effect modifiers.
Different diagnostic criteria limit comparisons between populations in the prevalence of diastolic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. We aimed to compare across populations age-specific echocardiographic criteria for diastolic LV dysfunction as well as their correlates and prevalence.
We measured the E and A peaks of transmitral blood flow by pulsed wave Doppler and the e' and a' peaks of mitral annular velocities by tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) in 2 cohorts randomly recruited in Belgium (n = 782; 51.4% women; mean age, 51.1 years) and in Italy, Poland and Russia (n = 476; 55.7%; 44.5 years).
In stepwise regression, the multivariable-adjusted correlates of the transmitral and TDI diastolic indexes were similar in the 2 cohorts and included sex, age, body mass index, blood pressure and heart rate. Similarly, cut-off limits for the E/A ratio (2.5th percentile) and E/e' ratio (97.5th percentile) in 338 and 185 reference subjects free from cardiovascular risk factors respectively selected from both cohorts were consistent within 0.02 and 0.26 units (median across 5 age groups). The rounded 2.5th percentile of the E/A ratio decreased by ~0.10 per age decade in these apparently healthy subjects. The reference subsample provided age-specific cut-off limits for normal E/A and E/e' ratios. In the 2 cohorts combined, diastolic dysfunction groups 1 (impaired relaxation), 2 (possible elevated LV filling pressure) and 3 (elevated E/e' and abnormally low E/A) encompassed 114 (9.1%), 135 (10.7%), and 40 (3.2%) subjects, respectively.
The age-specific criteria for diastolic LV dysfunction were highly consistent across the study populations with an age-standardized prevalence of 22.4% vs. 25.1%.
Epidemiology; Echocardiography; Tissue Doppler Imaging; Diastole
Absolute benefit increases with age and management of overall cardiovascular risk
The Ouabain and Adducin for Specific Intervention on Sodium in Hypertension (OASIS-HT) Trial was a phase-2 dose-finding study of rostafuroxin, a digitoxygenin derivative, which selectively antagonizes the effects of endogenous ouabain (EO) on Na+,K+-ATPase and mutated adducin. Rostafuroxin lowered blood pressure (BP) in some animal models and in humans.
OASIS-HT consisted of 5 concurrently running double-blind cross-over studies. After 4 weeks without treatment, 435 patients with uncomplicated systolic hypertension (140-169 mm Hg) were randomized to rostafuroxin (0.05, 0.15, 0.5, 1.5 or 5.0 mg/d) or matching placebo, each treatment period lasting 5 weeks. The primary endpoint was the reduction in systolic office BP. Among the secondary endpoints were diastolic office BP, 24-h ambulatory BP, plasma EO concentration and renin activity, 24-h urinary sodium and aldosterone excretion, and safety. ANOVA considered treatment sequence (fixed effect), subjects nested within sequence (random), period (fixed), and treatment (fixed).
Among 410 analyzable patients (40.5% women; mean age, 48.4 years), the differences in the primary endpoint (rostafuroxin minus placebo) ranged from -0.18 mm Hg (P = 0.90) on 0.15 mg/d rostafuroxin to 2.72 mm Hg (P = 0.04) on 0.05 mg/d. In the 5 dosage arms combined, the treatment effects averaged 1.30 mm Hg (P = 0.03) for systolic office BP; 0.70 mm Hg (P = 0.08) for diastolic office BP; 0.36 mm Hg (P = 0.49) for 24-h systolic BP; and 0.05 mm Hg (P = 0.88) for 24-h diastolic BP. In the 2 treatment groups combined, systolic (-1.36 mm Hg) and diastolic (-0.97 mm Hg) office BPs decreased from week 5 to 10 (P for period effect ≤0.028), but carry-over effects were not significant (P ≥ 0.11). All other endpoints were not different on rostafuroxin and placebo. Minor side-effects occurred with similarly low frequency on rostafuroxin and placebo.
In 5 concurrently running double-blind cross-over studies rostafuroxin did not reduce BP at any dose.
ClinicalTrials (NCT): NCT00415038
“…practitioners should realise that recommendations can never replace sound clinical judgment or take precedence over the personal interaction between patient and doctor”
Nε-Carboxymethyllysine (CML) is the major non-cross linking advanced glycation end product (AGE). CML is elevated in diabetic patients and apparent in atherosclerotic lesions. AGEs are associated with hypertension and arterial stiffness potentially by qualitative changes of elastic fibers. We investigated whether CML affects carotid and aortic properties in normoglycemic subjects.
Hundred-two subjects (age 48.2 ± 11.3 years) of the FLEMENGHO study were stratified according to the median of the plasma CML level (200.8 ng/ml; 25th percentile: 181.6 ng/ml, 75th percentile: 226.1 ng/ml) into "high CML" versus "low CML" as determined by ELISA. Local carotid artery properties, carotid intima media thickness (IMT), aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV), blood pressure and fetuin-A were analyzed. In 26 patients after carotidectomy, CML was visualized using immunohistochemistry.
According to the CML median, groups were similar for anthropometric and biochemical data. Carotid diameter was enlarged in the "high" CML group (485.7 ± 122.2 versus 421.2 ± 133.2 μm; P < 0.05), in particular in participants with elevated blood pressure and with "high" CML ("low" CML: 377.9 ± 122.2 μm and "high" CML: 514.5 ± 151.6 μm; P < 0.001). CML was associated fetuin-A as marker of vascular inflammation in the whole cohort (r = 0.28; P < 0.01) and with carotid diameter in hypertensive subjects (r = 0.42; P < 0.01). CML level had no effect on aortic stiffness. CML was detected in the subendothelial space of human carotid arteries.
In normoglycemic subjects CML was associated with carotid diameter without adaptive changes of elastic properties and with fetuin-A as vascular inflammation marker, in particular in subjects with elevated blood pressure. This may suggest qualitative changes of elastic fibers resulting in a defective mechanotransduction, in particular as CML is present in human carotid arteries.
Few population studies have reported on the long-term changes in the internal cadmium dose and simultaneously occurring mortality.
We monitored blood cadmium (BCd), 24-hr urinary cadmium (UCd), and mortality in an environmentally exposed population.
Starting from 1985, we followed BCd (until 2003), UCd (until 1996), and mortality (until 2007) among 476 and 480 subjects, randomly recruited from low- exposure areas (LEA) and high-exposure areas (HEA). The last cadmium-producing plant in the HEA closed in 2002.
From 1985–1989 to 1991–1996, BCd decreased by 40.3% and 18.9% in the LEA and HEA, respectively (p < 0.0001 for between-area difference). From 1991–1996 until 2001–2003, BCd remained unchanged in the HEA (+ 1.8%) and increased by 19.7% in the LEA (p < 0.0001). Over the entire follow-up period, the annual decrease in BCd averaged 2.7% in the LEA (n = 258) and 1.8% in the HEA (n = 203). From 1985–1989 to 1991–1996, UCd fell by 12.9% in the LEA and by 16.6% in the HEA (p = 0.22), with mean annual decreases of 2.7% (n = 366) and 3.4% (n = 364). Over 20.3 years (median), 206 deaths (21.5%) occurred. At baseline, BCd (14.6 vs. 10.2 nmol/L) and UCd (14.1 vs. 8.6 nmol/24-hr) were higher in deaths than in survivors. The risks (p ≤ 0.04) associated with a doubling of baseline UCd were 20% and 44% for total and noncardiovascular mortality, and 25% and 33% for a doubling of BCd.
Even if zinc–cadmium smelters close, historical environmental contamination remains a persistent source of exposure. Environmental exposure to cadmium increases total and noncardiovascular mortality in a continuous fashion without threshold.
cadmium; environmental exposure; mortality
Environmental exposure to cadmium decreases bone density indirectly through hypercalciuria resulting from renal tubular dysfunction.
We sought evidence for a direct osteotoxic effect of cadmium in women.
We randomly recruited 294 women (mean age, 49.2 years) from a Flemish population with environmental cadmium exposure. We measured 24-hr urinary cadmium and blood cadmium as indexes of lifetime and recent exposure, respectively. We assessed the multivariate-adjusted association of exposure with specific markers of bone resorption, urinary hydroxylysylpyridinoline (HP) and lysylpyridinoline (LP), as well as with calcium excretion, various calciotropic hormones, and forearm bone density.
In all women, the effect sizes associated with a doubling of lifetime exposure were 8.4% (p = 0.009) for HP, 6.9% (p = 0.10) for LP, 0.77 mmol/day (p = 0.003) for urinary calcium, –0.009 g/cm2 (p = 0.055) for proximal forearm bone density, and –16.8% (p = 0.065) for serum parathyroid hormone. In 144 postmenopausal women, the corresponding effect sizes were –0.01223 g/cm2 (p = 0.008) for distal forearm bone density, 4.7% (p = 0.064) for serum calcitonin, and 10.2% for bone-specific alkaline phosphatase. In all women, the effect sizes associated with a doubling of recent exposure were 7.2% (p = 0.001) for urinary HP, 7.2% (p = 0.021) for urinary LP, –9.0% (p = 0.097) for serum parathyroid hormone, and 5.5% (p = 0.008) for serum calcitonin. Only one woman had renal tubular dysfunction (urinary retinol-binding protein > 338 μg/day).
In the absence of renal tubular dysfunction, environmental exposure to cadmium increases bone resorption in women, suggesting a direct osteotoxic effect with increased calciuria and reactive changes in calciotropic hormones.
bone; cadmium; pyridinium crosslinks
The Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET) is a placebo controlled double blind trial of treating hypertension with indapamide Slow Release (SR) ± perindopril in subjects over the age of 80 years. The primary endpoints are stroke (fatal and non fatal). In view of the fact that thiazide diuretics and indapamide reduce urinary calcium and may increase bone mineral density, a fracture sub study was designed to investigate whether or not the trial anti-hypertensive treatment will reduce the fracture rate in very elderly hypertensive subjects.
In the trial considerable care is taken to ascertain any fractures and to identify risk factors for fracture, such as falls, co-morbidity, drug treatment, smoking and drinking habits, levels of activity, biochemical abnormalities, cardiac irregularities, impaired cognitive function and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.
The trial is expected to provide 10,500 patient years of follow-up. Given a fracture rate of 40/1000 patient years and a 20% difference in fracture rate, the power of the sub study is 58% to detect this difference at the 5% level of significance. The corresponding power for a reduction of 25% is 78%.
The trial is well under way, expected to complete in 2009, and on target to detect, if present, the above differences in fracture rate.
Polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons (PCAHs) have been described as endocrine disruptors in animals and in accidentally or occupationally exposed humans. In the present study we examined the effect of moderate exposure to PCAHs on sexual maturation. Two hundred adolescents (mean age, 17.4 years) who resided in two polluted suburbs and a rural control area in Flanders (Belgium) participated. We measured the serum concentration of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners 138, 153, and 180 and dioxin-like compounds [chemically activated luciferase expression (CALUX) assay] as biomarkers of exposure. School physicians assessed the pubertal development of boys and girls and measured testicular volume. In one suburb near two waste incinerators, compared with the other suburb and the control area, fewer boys (p < 0.001) had reached the adult stages of genital development (62% vs. 92% and 100%, respectively) and pubic hair growth (48% vs. 77% and 100%). Also, in the same suburb, fewer girls (p = 0.04) had reached the adult stage of breast development (67% vs. 90% and 79%). In individual boys, a doubling of the serum concentration of PCB congener 138 increased the odds of not having matured into the adult stage of genital development by 3.5 (p = 0.04); similarly for PCB congener 153 in relation to male pubic hair growth, the odds ratio was 3.5 (p = 0.04). In girls, a doubling of the serum dioxin concentration increased the odds of not having reached the adult stage of breast development by 2.3 (p = 0.02). Left plus right testicular volume was lower in both polluted areas than in the control area (42.4 mL vs. 47.3 mL, p = 0.005) but was not related to the current exposure of the adolescents to PCAHs. Through endocrine disruption, environmental exposure to PCAHs may interfere with sexual maturation and in the long-run adversely affect human reproduction.
In this study, we investigated 17- to 18-year-old boys and girls to determine whether changes in humoral or cellular immunity or respiratory complaints were related to blood serum levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin-like compounds after lifetime exposure in Flanders (Belgium). We obtained blood samples from and administered questionnaires to 200 adolescents recruited from a rural area and two urban suburbs. Physicians recorded medical history and respiratory diseases. We measured immunologic biomarkers such as differential blood cell counts, lymphocyte phenotypes, and serum immunoglobulins. As biomarkers of exposure, we determined the serum concentrations of PCBs (PCB 138, PCB 153, and PCB 180) and dioxin-like compounds [chemical-activated luciferase expression (CALUX) bioassay]. The percentages of eosinophils and natural killer cells in blood were negatively correlated with CALUX toxic equivalents (TEQs) in serum (p = 0.009 and p = 0.05, respectively). Increased serum CALUX TEQs resulted in an increase in serum IgA levels (p = 0.05). Furthermore, levels of specific IgEs (measured by radioallergosorbent tests) of cat dander, house dust mite, and grass pollen were also significantly and negatively associated with the CALUX TEQ, with odds ratios (ORs) equal to 0.63 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.42-0.96], 0.68 (0.5-0.93), and 0.70 (0.52-0.95), respectively. In addition, reported allergies of the upper airways and past use of antiallergic drugs were negatively associated with CALUX TEQs, with ORs equal to 0.66 (0.47-0.93) and 0.58 (0.39-0.85), respectively. We found a negative association between IgGs and marker PCBs in serum (p = 0.009). This study shows that immunologic measurements and respiratory complaints in adolescents were associated with environmental exposure to polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs). The negative correlation between PHAHs and allergic responses in adolescents suggested that exposure may entail alterations in the immune status.
This study investigated host factors and environmental factors as potential determinants of polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons (PCAHs) in serum of adolescents. We recruited 200 participants (80 boys and 120 girls), with a mean age of 17.4 years (SD, 0.8), in Belgium from a rural control area (Peer) and from two polluted suburbs of Antwerp where a nonferrous smelter (Hoboken) and waste incinerators (Wilrijk) are located. We quantified polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs; congeners 138, 153, and 180) in serum by gas chromatography and obtained the toxic equivalents (TEQs) of PCAHs in serum with the chemically activated luciferase gene expression bioassay (CALUX). Serum PCB concentration was higher in boys than in girls (1.67 vs. 1.02 nmol/L or 377 vs. 210 pmol/g serum lipids; p< 0.001). In the whole adolescent group, multiple regression showed that serum PCB concentration decreased 0.06 nmol/L per 1% increase in body fat content (p< 0.001) and increased 0.39 nmol/L and 0.14 nmol/L per 1 mmol/L increase in serum concentrations of triglycerides (p < 0.001) and cholesterol (p = 0.002), respectively. Host factors explained 44% of the serum PCB variance. In the same model, serum PCB concentration increased 0.14 nmol/L with 10 weeks of breast-feeding (p< 0.001) and 0.06 nmol/L with intake of 10 g animal fat per day (p < 0.001), and was associated with residence in the waste incinerator area (9% higher; p = 0.04); 11% of the variance could be explained by these environmental factors. The geometric mean of the serum TEQ value was similar in boys and girls (0.15 TEQ ng/L or 33.0 pg/g serum lipids). In multiple regression, TEQ in serum decreased 0.03 ng/L per centimeter increase in triceps skinfold (p = 0.006) and was 29% higher in subjects living close to the nonferrous smelter (p < 0.001). This study showed that in 16- to 18-year-old teenagers host factors are important determinants of serum concentrations of PCAHs, whereas environmentally related determinants may to some extent contribute independently to human exposure to these persistent chemicals in the environment.
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled Systolic Hypertension in Europe trial (Syst-Eur 1) proved that blood pressure (BP) lowering therapy starting with nitrendipine reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications in elderly patients with isolated systolic hypertension. In an attempt to confirm the safety of long-term antihypertensive therapy based on a dihydropyridine, the Syst-Eur patients remained in open follow-up after the end of Syst-Eur 1. This paper presents the second progress report of this follow-up study (Syst-Eur 2). It describes BP control and adherence to study medications.
After the end of Syst-Eur 1 all patients, treated either actively or with placebo, were invited either to continue or to start antihypertensive treatment with the same drugs as previously used in the active treatment arm. In order to reach the target BP (sitting SBP <150 mmHg), the first line agent, nitrendipine, could be associated with enalapril and/or hydrochlorothiazide.
Of the 3787 eligible patients, 3516 (93%) entered Syst-Eur 2. At the last available visit, 72% of the patients were taking nitrendipine. SBP/DBP at entry in Syst-Eur 2 averaged 160/83 mmHg in the former placebo group and 151/80 mmHg in the former active-treatment group. At the last follow-up visit SBP/DBP in the patients previously randomised to placebo or active treatment had decreased by 16/5 mmHg and 7/5 mmHg, respectively. The target BP was reached by 74% of the patients.
Substantial reductions in systolic BP may be achieved in older patients with isolated systolic hypertension with a treatment strategy starting with the dihydropyridine calcium-channel blocker, nitrendipine, with the possible addition of enalapril and/or hydrochlorothiazide.
calcium-channel blockers; elderly; isolated systolic hypertension
This report investigated the distribution of serum zinc and the factors determining serum zinc concentration in a large random population sample. The 1977 participants (959 men and 1018 women), 20–80 years old, constituted a stratified random sample of the population of four Belgian districts, representing two areas with low and two with high environmental exposure to cadmium. For each exposure level, a rural and an urban area were selected. The serum concentration of zinc, frequently used as an index for zinc status in human subjects, was higher in men (13.1 μmole/L, range 6.5–23.0 μmole/L) than in women (12.6 μmole/L, range 6.3–23.2 μmole/L). In men, 20% of the variance of serum zinc was explained by age (linear and squared term, R = 0.29), diurnal variation (r = 0.29), and total cholesterol (r = 0.16). After adjustment for these covariates, a negative relationship was observed between serum zinc and both blood (r = −0.10) and urinary cadmium (r = −0.14). In women, 11% of the variance could be explained by age (linear and squared term, R = 0.15), diurnal variation in serum zinc (r = 0.27), creatinine clearance (r = −0.11), log γ-glutamyltranspeptidase (r = 0.08), cholesterol (r = 0.07), contraceptive pill intake (r = −0.07), and log serum ferritin (r = 0.06). Before and after adjustment for significant covariates, serum zinc was, on average, lowest in the two districts where the body burden of cadmium, as assessed by urinary cadmium excretion, was highest. These results were not altered when subjects exposed to heavy metals at work were excluded from analysis.
Cadmium is a cumulative environmental pollutant. For the general population mainly exposed by the oral route and through tobacco smoke inhalation, the kidney is the critical organ. Belgium is the principal producer of cadmium in Europe, and certain areas of the country are polluted by cadmium mainly because of past emissions from nonferrous industries. Preliminary studies carried out in one polluted area have suggested that environmental pollution might lead to an increased uptake of cadmium by the human body and possibly to health effects. Thus, a large-scale morbidity study has been initiated to assess the validity of this hypothesis. The present paper describes the protocol of this study. Its main objectives are to determine to what extent environmental exposure to cadmium resulting from industrial emissions may lead to accumulation of the metal in the human organism; to establish whether or not environmental exposure may induce renal changes and/or influence blood pressure; and to assess the acceptable internal dose of cadmium for the general population. The study design takes advantage of the fact that biological indicators of exposure, body burden, and early nephrotoxic effects of cadmium are available, which increase the likelihood of detecting a cause-effect relationship.