Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is the gold standard non-invasive method for determining left ventricular (LV) mass and volume but has not been used previously to characterise the LV remodeling response in aortic stenosis. We sought to investigate the degree and patterns of hypertrophy in aortic stenosis using CMR.
Patients with moderate or severe aortic stenosis, normal coronary arteries and no other significant valve lesions or cardiomyopathy were scanned by CMR with valve severity assessed by planimetry and velocity mapping. The extent and patterns of hypertrophy were investigated using measurements of the LV mass index, indexed LV volumes and the LV mass/volume ratio. Asymmetric forms of remodeling and hypertrophy were defined by a regional wall thickening ≥13 mm and >1.5-fold the thickness of the opposing myocardial segment.
Ninety-one patients (61±21 years; 57 male) with aortic stenosis (aortic valve area 0.93±0.32cm2) were recruited. The severity of aortic stenosis was unrelated to the degree (r2=0.012, P=0.43) and pattern (P=0.22) of hypertrophy. By univariate analysis, only male sex demonstrated an association with LV mass index (P=0.02). Six patterns of LV adaption were observed: normal ventricular geometry (n=11), concentric remodeling (n=11), asymmetric remodeling (n=11), concentric hypertrophy (n=34), asymmetric hypertrophy (n=14) and LV decompensation (n=10). Asymmetric patterns displayed considerable overlap in appearances (wall thickness 17±2mm) with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
We have demonstrated that in patients with moderate and severe aortic stenosis, the pattern of LV adaption and degree of hypertrophy do not closely correlate with the severity of valve narrowing and that asymmetric patterns of wall thickening are common.
ClinicalTrials.gov Reference Number: NCT00930735
Aortic valve disease; MRI; Cardiac remodeling
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) capable of initiating or augmenting vascular growth were recently identified within the small population of CD34-expressing cells that circulate in human peripheral blood and which are considered hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC). Soon thereafter human HPC began to be used in clinical trials as putative sources of EPC for therapeutic vascular regeneration, especially in myocardial and critical limb ischemias. However, unlike HPC where hematopoietic efficacy is related quantitatively to CD34+ cell numbers implanted, there has been no consensus on how to measure EPC or how to assess cellular graft potency for vascular regeneration. We employed an animal model of spontaneous neovascularization to simultaneously determine whether human cells incorporate into new vessels and to quantify the effect of different putative angiogenic cells on vascularization in terms of number of vessels generated. We systematically compared competence for therapeutic angiogenesis in different sources of human cells with putative angiogenic potential, to begin to provide some rationale for optimising cell procurement for this therapy.
Human cells employed were mononuclear cells from normal peripheral blood and HPC-rich cell sources (umbilical cord blood, mobilized peripheral blood, bone marrow), CD34+ enriched or depleted subsets of these, and outgrowth cell populations from these. An established sponge implant angiogenesis model was adapted to determine the effects of different human cells on vascularization of implants in immunodeficient mice. Angiogenesis was quantified by vessel density and species of origin by immunohistochemistry.
CD34+ cells from mobilized peripheral blood or umbilical cord blood HPC were the only cells to promote new vessel growth, but did not incorporate into vessels. Only endothelial outgrowth cells (EOC) incorporated into vessels, but these did not promote vessel growth.
These studies indicate that, since EPC are very rare, any benefit seen in clinical trials of HPC in therapeutic vascular regeneration is predominantly mediated by indirect proangiogenic effects rather than through direct incorporation of any rare EPC contained within these sources. It should be possible to produce autologous EOC for therapeutic use, and evaluate the effect of EPC distinct from, or in synergy with, the proangiogenic effects of HPC therapies.
Inhalation of diesel exhaust impairs vascular function in man, by a mechanism that has yet to be fully established. We hypothesised that pulmonary exposure to diesel exhaust particles (DEP) would cause endothelial dysfunction in rats as a consequence of pulmonary and systemic inflammation.
Wistar rats were exposed to DEP (0.5 mg) or saline vehicle by intratracheal instillation and hind-limb blood flow, blood pressure and heart rate were monitored in situ 6 or 24 h after exposure. Vascular function was tested by administration of the endothelium-dependent vasodilator acetylcholine (ACh) and the endothelium-independent vasodilator sodium nitroprusside (SNP) in vivo and ex vivo in isolated rings of thoracic aorta, femoral and mesenteric artery from DEP exposed rats. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and blood plasma were collected to assess pulmonary (cell differentials, protein levels & interleukin-6 (IL-6)) and systemic (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and C-reactive protein (CRP)) inflammation, respectively.
DEP instillation increased cell counts, total protein and IL-6 in BALF 6 h after exposure, while levels of IL-6 and TNFα were only raised in blood 24 h after DEP exposure. DEP had no effect on the increased hind-limb blood flow induced by ACh in vivo at 6 or 24 h. However, responses to SNP were impaired at both time points. In contrast, ex vivo responses to ACh and SNP were unaltered in arteries isolated from rats exposed to DEP.
Exposure of rats to DEP induces both pulmonary and systemic inflammation, but does not modify endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. Other mechanisms in vivo limit dilator responses to SNP and these require further investigation.
Diesel; Pollution; Particle; Particulate; Blood vessel; Artery; Vasodilatation; Endothelium; Inflammation
Background: Air pollution exposure increases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and is a major global public health concern.
Objectives: We investigated the benefits of reducing personal exposure to urban air pollution in patients with coronary heart disease.
Methods: In an open randomized crossover trial, 98 patients with coronary heart disease walked on a predefined route in central Beijing, China, under different conditions: once while using a highly efficient face mask, and once while not using the mask. Symptoms, exercise, personal air pollution exposure, blood pressure, heart rate, and 12-lead electrocardiography were monitored throughout the 24-hr study period.
Results: Ambient air pollutants were dominated by fine and ultrafine particulate matter (PM) that was present at high levels [74 μg/m3 for PM2.5 (PM with aerodynamic diamater <2.5 µm)]. Consistent with traffic-derived sources, this PM contained organic carbon and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and was highly oxidizing, generating large amounts of free radicals. The face mask was well tolerated, and its use was associated with decreased self-reported symptoms and reduced maximal ST segment depression (–142 vs. –156 μV, p = 0.046) over the 24-hr period. When the face mask was used during the prescribed walk, mean arterial pressure was lower (93 ± 10 vs. 96 ± 10 mmHg, p = 0.025) and heart rate variability increased (high-frequency power: 54 vs. 40 msec2, p = 0.005; high-frequency normalized power: 23.5 vs. 20.5 msec, p = 0.001; root mean square successive differences: 16.7 vs. 14.8 msec, p = 0.007). However, mask use did not appear to influence heart rate or energy expenditure.
Conclusions: Reducing personal exposure to air pollution using a highly efficient face mask appeared to reduce symptoms and improve a range of cardiovascular health measures in patients with coronary heart disease. Such interventions to reduce personal exposure to PM air pollution have the potential to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in this highly susceptible population.
air pollution; blood pressure; face mask; heart rate variability; myocardial ischemia
Ischaemia–reperfusion (IR) injury causes endothelium-dependent vasomotor dysfunction that can be prevented by ischaemic preconditioning. The effects of IR injury and preconditioning on endothelium-dependent tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) release, an important mediator of endogenous fibrinolysis, remain unknown.
Methods and results
Ischaemia–reperfusion injury (limb occlusion at 200 mmHg for 20 min) was induced in 22 healthy subjects. In 12 subjects, IR injury was preceded by local or remote ischaemic preconditioning (three 5 min episodes of ipsilateral or contralateral limb occlusion, respectively) or sham in a randomized, cross-over trial. Forearm blood flow (FBF) and endothelial t-PA release were assessed using venous occlusion plethysmography and venous blood sampling during intra-arterial infusion of acetylcholine (5–20 µg/min) or substance P (2–8 pmol/min). Acetylcholine and substance P caused dose-dependent increases in FBF (P<0.05 for all). Substance P caused a dose-dependent increase in t-PA release (P<0.05 for all). Acetylcholine and substanceP-mediated vasodilatation and substanceP-mediated t-PA release were impaired following IR injury (P<0.05 for all). Neither local nor remote ischaemic preconditioning protected against the impairment of substance P-mediated vasodilatation or t-PA release.
Ischaemia–reperfusion injury induced substanceP-mediated, endothelium-dependent vasomotor and fibrinolytic dysfunction in man that could not be prevented by ischaemic preconditioning.
Clinical Trial Registration Information: Reference number: NCT00789243, URL: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00789243?term=NCT00789243&rank=1
Endogenous fibrinolysis; Endothelium; Ischaemia–reperfusion; Preconditioning; Substance P
A large intake of walnuts may improve lipid profile and endothelial function. The effect of moderate walnut consumption is not known. We investigated whether a moderate intake of walnuts would affect lipid profile, arterial stiffness and platelet activation in healthy volunteers.
Thirty healthy males were recruited into a single-blind randomised controlled crossover trial of 4 weeks dietary walnut supplementation (15 g/day) and 4 weeks control (no walnuts). Arterial stiffness was assessed using pulse waveform analysis to determine the augmentation index and augmented pressure. Platelet activation was determined using flow cytometry to measure circulating platelet-monocyte aggregates.
There were no differences in lipid profile after 4 weeks of walnut supplementation compared with control. Dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid was increased during the walnut diet (2.1±0.4 g/day versus 0.7±0.4 g/day, P<0.0001). There were no differences in augmentation index or augmented pressure during walnut supplementation. Walnut supplementation did not affect platelet-monocyte aggregation .
Dietary intervention with a moderate intake of walnuts does not affect lipid profile, arterial stiffness or platelet activation in man. Our results suggest that the potentially beneficial cardiac effects of walnuts may not be apparent at lower and more practical levels of consumption.
walnuts; lipids; platelet activation; arterial stiffness; cardiovascular disease
Exposure to road traffic and air pollution may be a trigger of acute myocardial infarction, but the individual pollutants responsible for this effect have not been established. We assess the role of combustion-derived-nanoparticles in mediating the adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution.
Methods and results
To determine the in vivo effects of inhalation of diesel exhaust components, 16 healthy volunteers were exposed to (i) dilute diesel exhaust, (ii) pure carbon nanoparticulate, (iii) filtered diesel exhaust, or (iv) filtered air, in a randomized double blind cross-over study. Following each exposure, forearm blood flow was measured during intra-brachial bradykinin, acetylcholine, sodium nitroprusside, and verapamil infusions. Compared with filtered air, inhalation of diesel exhaust increased systolic blood pressure (145 ± 4 vs. 133 ± 3 mmHg, P< 0.05) and attenuated vasodilatation to bradykinin (P= 0.005), acetylcholine (P= 0.008), and sodium nitroprusside (P< 0.001). Exposure to pure carbon nanoparticulate or filtered exhaust had no effect on endothelium-dependent or -independent vasodilatation. To determine the direct vascular effects of nanoparticulate, isolated rat aortic rings (n= 6–9 per group) were assessed in vitro by wire myography and exposed to diesel exhaust particulate, pure carbon nanoparticulate and vehicle. Compared with vehicle, diesel exhaust particulate (but not pure carbon nanoparticulate) attenuated both acetylcholine (P< 0.001) and sodium-nitroprusside (P= 0.019)-induced vasorelaxation. These effects were partially attributable to both soluble and insoluble components of the particulate.
Combustion-derived nanoparticulate appears to predominately mediate the adverse vascular effects of diesel exhaust inhalation. This provides a rationale for testing environmental health interventions targeted at reducing traffic-derived particulate emissions.
Air pollution; Diesel exhaust; Nanoparticles; Endothelium; Blood flow
To examine the effects of acute insulin-induced hypoglycemia on inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and platelet activation in adults with and without type 1 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We studied 16 nondiabetic adults and 16 subjects with type 1 diabetes during euglycemia (blood glucose 4.5 mmol/l) and hypoglycemia (blood glucose 2.5 mmol/l). Markers of inflammation, thrombosis, and endothelial dysfunction (soluble P-selectin, interleukin-6, von Willebrand factor [vWF], tissue plasminogen activator [tPA], high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [hsCRP], and soluble CD40 ligand [sCD40L]) were measured; platelet-monocyte aggregation and CD40 expression on monocytes were determined using flow cytometry.
In nondiabetic participants, platelet activation occurred after hypoglycemia, with increments in platelet-monocyte aggregation and P-selectin (P ≤ 0.02). Inflammation was triggered with CD40 expression increasing maximally at 24 h (3.13 ± 2.3% vs. 2.06 ± 1.0%) after hypoglycemia (P = 0.009). Both sCD40L and hsCRP (P = 0.02) increased with a nonsignificant rise in vWF and tPA, indicating a possible endothelial effect. A reduction in sCD40L, tPA, and P-selectin occurred during euglycemia (P = 0.03, P ≤ 0.006, and P = 0.006, respectively). In type 1 diabetes, both CD40 expression (5.54 ± 4.4% vs. 3.65 ± 1.8%; P = 0.006) and plasma sCD40L concentrations increased during hypoglycemia (peak 3.41 ± 3.2 vs. 2.85 ± 2.8 ng/ml; P = 0.03). Platelet-monocyte aggregation also increased significantly at 24 h after hypoglycemia (P = 0.03). A decline in vWF and P-selectin occurred during euglycemia (P ≤ 0.04).
Acute hypoglycemia may provoke upregulation and release of vasoactive substances in adults with and without type 1 diabetes. This may be a putative mechanism for hypoglycemia-induced vascular injury.
Cardiac vegetations result from bacterium–platelet adherence, activation and aggregation, and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality in infective endocarditis. The GPIIb/IIIa and FcγRIIa platelet receptors play a central role in platelet adhesion, activation and aggregation induced by endocarditis pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, but the influence of known polymorphisms of these receptors on the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis is unknown. We determined the GPIIIa platelet antigen PlA1/A2 and FcγRIIa H131R genotype of healthy volunteers (n = 160) and patients with infective endocarditis (n = 40), and investigated the influence of these polymorphisms on clinical outcome in infective endocarditis and S. aureus–platelet interactions in vitro. Platelet receptor genotype did not correlate with development of infective endocarditis, vegetation characteristics on echocardiogram or the composite clinical end-point of embolism, heart failure, need for surgery or mortality (P > 0.05 for all), even though patients with the GPIIIa PlA1/A1 genotype had increased in vivo platelet activation (P = 0.001). Furthermore, neither GPIIIa PlA1/A2 nor FcγRIIa H131R genotype influenced S. aureus-induced platelet adhesion, activation or aggregation in vitro (P > 0.05). Taken together, our data suggest that the GPIIIa and FcγRIIa platelet receptor polymorphisms do not influence S. aureus–platelet interactions in vitro or the clinical course of infective endocarditis.
Genetic polymorphisms; Platelet aggregation; Endocarditis
There is wide variability in the use and adoption of recommendations generated by computerized clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) despite the benefits they may bring to clinical practice. We conducted a systematic review to explore the barriers to, and facilitators of, CDSS uptake by physicians to guide prescribing decisions. We identified 58 studies by searching electronic databases (1990–2007). Factors impacting on CDSS use included: the availability of hardware, technical support and training; integration of the system into workflows; and the relevance and timeliness of the clinical messages. Further, systems that were endorsed by colleagues, minimized perceived threats to professional autonomy, and did not compromise doctor-patient interactions were accepted by users. Despite advances in technology and CDSS sophistication, most factors were consistently reported over time and across ambulatory and institutional settings. Such factors must be addressed when deploying CDSSs so that improvements in uptake, practice and patient outcomes may be achieved.
Clinical decision support systems; medication systems; drug prescriptions; drug utilization; physician practice patterns
Background. Investments in eHealth worldwide have been mirrored in Australia, with >90% of general practices computerized. Recent eHealth incentives promote the use of up to date electronic information sources relevant to general practice with flexibility in mode of access.
Objective. To determine GPs’ access to and use of electronic information sources and computerized clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) for prescribing.
Methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 experienced GPs and nine GP trainees in New South Wales, Australia in 2008. A thematic analysis of interview transcripts was undertaken.
Results. Information needs varied with clinical experience, and people resources (specialists, GP peers and supervisors for trainees) were often preferred over written formats. Experienced GPs used a small number of electronic resources and accessed them infrequently. Familiarity from training and early clinical practice and easy access were dominant influences on resource use. Practice time constraints meant relevant information needed to be readily accessible during consultations, requiring integration or direct access from prescribing software. Quality of electronic resource content was assumed and cost a barrier for some GPs.
Conclusions. The current Australian practice incentives do not prescribe which information resources GPs should use. Without integration into practice computing systems, uptake and routine use seem unlikely. CDSS developments must recognize the time pressures of practice, preference for integration and cost concerns. Minimum standards are required to ensure that high-quality information resources are integrated and regularly updated. Without standards, the anticipated benefits of computerization on patient safety and health outcomes will be uncertain.
Australia; clinical decision support; electronic information; general practice
Many medical disorders of public health importance are complex diseases caused by multiple genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Recent technological advances have made it possible to analyse the genetic variants that predispose to complex diseases. Reliable detection of these variants requires genome-wide association studies in sufficiently large numbers of cases and controls. This approach is often hampered by difficulties in collecting appropriate control samples. The Generation Scotland: Donor DNA Databank (GS:3D) aims to help solve this problem by providing a resource of control DNA and plasma samples accessible for research.
GS:3D participants were recruited from volunteer blood donors attending Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) clinics across Scotland. All participants gave full written consent for GS:3D to take spare blood from their normal donation. Participants also supplied demographic data by completing a short questionnaire.
Over five thousand complete sets of samples, data and consent forms were collected. DNA and plasma were extracted and stored. The data and samples were unlinked from their original SNBTS identifier number. The plasma, DNA and demographic data are available for research. New data obtained from analysis of the resource will be fed back to GS:3D and will be made available to other researchers as appropriate.
Recruitment of blood donors is an efficient and cost-effective way of collecting thousands of control samples. Because the collection is large, subsets of controls can be selected, based on age range, gender, and ethnic or geographic origin. The GS:3D resource should reduce time and expense for investigators who would otherwise have had to recruit their own controls.
To assess the value of a near‐patient brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) test to predict medium term (3 month) serious outcome for adult syncope patients presenting to a UK emergency department (ED).
This was a prospective cohort pilot study. Consecutive patients aged ⩾16 years presenting with syncope over a 3 month period were eligible for prospective enrolment. All patients who were medium or high risk according to our ED's existing syncope guidelines underwent near‐patient BNP testing using the Triage point of care machine.
99 patients were recruited. 72 of 82 high and medium risk patients underwent BNP measurement. 11 patients had a serious outcome, 9 of whom had BNP measured. In 25 (35%) patients, BNP was ⩾100 pg/ml, and in 3 of these it was >1000 pg/ml. 6 of the 25 patients (24%) with a BNP >100 pg/ml, and all 3 patients with a BNP >1000 pg/ml, were in the serious outcome group. BNP was raised over 100 pg/ml in 6 of the 9 serious outcome patients having a BNP measured (66%), and over 1000 pg/ml in 3 (33%).
This early work suggests that BNP may have a role in the risk assessment of syncope patients in the ED. Further work is required to see how BNP interacts with other clinical variables. Near‐patient BNP testing may be shown to be an independent predictor of adverse outcome either alone or incorporated into existing syncope clinical decision rules and scores in order to improve their sensitivity and specificity. Further studies are required to evaluate this.
Traffic emissions including diesel engine exhaust are associated with increased respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Controlled human exposure studies have demonstrated impaired vascular function after inhalation of exhaust generated by a diesel engine under idling conditions.
To assess the vascular and fibrinolytic effects of exposure to diesel exhaust generated during urban-cycle running conditions that mimic ambient 'real-world' exposures.
In a randomised double-blind crossover study, eighteen healthy male volunteers were exposed to diesel exhaust (approximately 250 μg/m3) or filtered air for one hour during intermittent exercise. Diesel exhaust was generated during the urban part of the standardized European Transient Cycle. Six hours post-exposure, vascular vasomotor and fibrinolytic function was assessed during venous occlusion plethysmography with intra-arterial agonist infusions.
Measurements and Main Results
Forearm blood flow increased in a dose-dependent manner with both endothelial-dependent (acetylcholine and bradykinin) and endothelial-independent (sodium nitroprusside and verapamil) vasodilators. Diesel exhaust exposure attenuated the vasodilatation to acetylcholine (P < 0.001), bradykinin (P < 0.05), sodium nitroprusside (P < 0.05) and verapamil (P < 0.001). In addition, the net release of tissue plasminogen activator during bradykinin infusion was impaired following diesel exhaust exposure (P < 0.05).
Exposure to diesel exhaust generated under transient running conditions, as a relevant model of urban air pollution, impairs vasomotor function and endogenous fibrinolysis in a similar way as exposure to diesel exhaust generated at idling. This indicates that adverse vascular effects of diesel exhaust inhalation occur over different running conditions with varying exhaust composition and concentrations as well as physicochemical particle properties. Importantly, exposure to diesel exhaust under ETC conditions was also associated with a novel finding of impaired of calcium channel-dependent vasomotor function. This implies that certain cardiovascular endpoints seem to be related to general diesel exhaust properties, whereas the novel calcium flux-related effect may be associated with exhaust properties more specific for the ETC condition, for example a higher content of diesel soot particles along with their adsorbed organic compounds.
Exposure to urban particulate matter has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and thrombosis. We studied the effects of transient exposure to diesel particles on fibrin clot structure of 16 healthy individuals (age 21- 44). The subjects were randomly exposed to diesel exhaust and filtered air on two separate occasions. Blood samples were collected before exposure, and 2 and 6 hours after exposure. There were no significant changes on clot permeability, maximum turbidity, lag time, fibre diameter, fibre density and fibrinogen level between samples taken after diesel exhaust exposure and samples taken after filtered air exposure. These data show that there are no prothrombotic changes in fibrin clot structure in young, healthy individuals exposed to diesel exhaust.
This study was conducted as a feasibility pilot for the Risk stratification Of Syncope in the Emergency department (ROSE) study. The secondary aim was to compare the performance of our existing emergency department (ED) guidelines with existing clinical decision rules (Osservatorio Epidemiologico sulla Sincope nel Lazio (OESIL) Score and San Francisco Syncope Rule; SFSR) at predicting short‐term (1 week and 1 month) and medium‐term (3 months) serious outcomes for patients with syncope presenting to the ED.
This was a prospective cohort study. All patients presenting with syncope aged ⩾16 years between 7 November 2005 and 7 February 2006 were prospectively enrolled.
99 patients were recruited over a 3‐month period. 44 patients were admitted and 55 discharged from the ED. 11 patients had a serious outcome: 8 by 7 days and a further 3 by 3 months. Five patients died by 3 months and six others had an alternative serious outcome. All 11 patients had been admitted from the ED, 7 were at high risk, 4 were at medium risk and none were at low risk according to our existing ED guidelines. Percentages of serious outcomes were 0%, 2.9%, 8.0%, 22.7% and 37.5% for OESIL scores of 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. 40 patients had none of the 5 SFSR high‐risk factors (0 serious outcomes = 0%) and 59 patients had an SFSR high‐risk factor (11 serious outcomes = 18.6%). The risk of serious outcome at 7 days, 1 month and 3 months was 8.1%, 8.1% and 11.1%, respectively.
A study to derive and validate a UK ED syncope clinical decision rule is feasible. This pilot study has evaluated the OESIL score, the SFSR and our existing ED guidelines, and has shown that each is able to identify an increased probability of medium‐term serious outcome in patients with syncope. The SFSR shows good sensitivity at the expense of an increase in admissions to hospital; however, our existing ED syncope guidelines and the OESIL Score, although being able to successfully risk stratify patients, are not sufficiently sensitive to be able to reduce admissions without missing patients at risk of a serious outcome. Undoubtedly there is a need for a simple UK‐derived clinical decision rule for patients presenting with syncope to enable safe, effective clinical care and to aid less experienced decision makers.
Computerised clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) are used widely to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. This systematic review evaluated the impact of CDSSs in targeting specific aspects of prescribing, namely initiating, monitoring and stopping therapy. We also examined the influence of clinical setting (institutional vs ambulatory care), system- or user-initiation of CDSS, multi-faceted vs stand alone CDSS interventions and clinical target on practice changes in line with the intent of the CDSS.
We searched Medline, Embase and PsychINFO for publications from 1990-2007 detailing CDSS prescribing interventions. Pairs of independent reviewers extracted the key features and prescribing outcomes of methodologically adequate studies (experiments and strong quasi-experiments).
56 studies met our inclusion criteria, 38 addressing initiating, 23 monitoring and three stopping therapy. At the time of initiating therapy, CDSSs appear to be somewhat more effective after, rather than before, drug selection has occurred (7/12 versus 12/26 studies reporting statistically significant improvements in favour of CDSSs on = 50% of prescribing outcomes reported). CDSSs also appeared to be effective for monitoring therapy, particularly using laboratory test reminders (4/7 studies reporting significant improvements in favour of CDSSs on the majority of prescribing outcomes). None of the studies addressing stopping therapy demonstrated impacts in favour of CDSSs over comparators. The most consistently effective approaches used system-initiated advice to fine-tune existing therapy by making recommendations to improve patient safety, adjust the dose, duration or form of prescribed drugs or increase the laboratory testing rates for patients on long-term therapy. CDSSs appeared to perform better in institutional compared to ambulatory settings and when decision support was initiated automatically by the system as opposed to user initiation. CDSSs implemented with other strategies such as education were no more successful in improving prescribing than stand alone interventions. Cardiovascular disease was the most studied clinical target but few studies demonstrated significant improvements on the majority of prescribing outcomes.
Our understanding of CDSS impacts on specific aspects of the prescribing process remains relatively limited. Future implementation should build on effective approaches including the use of system-initiated advice to address safety issues and improve the monitoring of therapy.
Diesel exhaust particulate (DEP) is a key arbiter of the adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution.
We assessed the in vitro effects of DEP on vascular function, nitric oxide (NO) availability, and the generation of oxygen-centered free radicals.
We assessed the direct vascular effects of DEP (10–100 μg/mL) in isolated rat aortic rings using myography. We investigated NO scavenging and oxygen-centered free radical generation using an NO electrode and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) with the Tempone-H (1-hydroxyl-2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-4-oxo-piperidine) spin trap, respectively.
Acetylcholine-induced relaxation was attenuated by DEP (maximum relaxation reduced from 91 ± 4% to 49 ± 6% with 100 μg/mL DEP; p < 0.001) but was restored by superoxide dismutase (SOD; maximum relaxation, 73 ± 6%; p < 0.001). DEP caused a modest inhibition of relaxation to NO donor drugs, an effect that could be reversed by SOD (p < 0.01). At 10 μg/mL, DEP did not affect verapamil-induced relaxation (p = 0.73), but at 100 μg/mL DEP inhibited relaxation (p < 0.001) by a mechanism independent of SOD. NO concentrations generated by 2-(N,N-diethylamino)-diazenolate-2-oxide (DEA/NO; 10 μM) were reduced by DEP (100 μg/mL; from 5.2 ± 0.4 to 3.3 ± 0.4 μM; p = 0.002). Free radical generation was increased by DEP (10 μg/mL; 9-fold increase in EPR spectra; p = 0.004) in a manner that could be attenuated by SOD (p = 0.015).
DEP caused oxidative stress through the generation of oxygen-centered free radicals that reduced the bioavailability of endothelium-derived NO without prior interaction with the lung or vascular tissue. These findings provide a mechanism for the adverse cardiovascular effects of particulate air pollution.
blood vessel; diesel; nitric oxide; particulate; pollution; superoxide
Exposure to air pollution is an important risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and is associated with increased blood pressure, reduced heart rate variability, endothelial dysfunction and myocardial ischaemia. Our objectives were to assess the cardiovascular effects of reducing air pollution exposure by wearing a facemask.
In an open-label cross-over randomised controlled trial, 15 healthy volunteers (median age 28 years) walked on a predefined city centre route in Beijing in the presence and absence of a highly efficient facemask. Personal exposure to ambient air pollution and exercise was assessed continuously using portable real-time monitors and global positional system tracking respectively. Cardiovascular effects were assessed by continuous 12-lead electrocardiographic and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
Ambient exposure (PM2.5 86 ± 61 vs 140 ± 113 μg/m3; particle number 2.4 ± 0.4 vs 2.3 ± 0.4 × 104 particles/cm3), temperature (29 ± 1 vs 28 ± 3°C) and relative humidity (63 ± 10 vs 64 ± 19%) were similar (P > 0.05 for all) on both study days. During the 2-hour city walk, systolic blood pressure was lower (114 ± 10 vs 121 ± 11 mmHg, P < 0.01) when subjects wore a facemask, although heart rate was similar (91 ± 11 vs 88 ± 11/min; P > 0.05). Over the 24-hour period heart rate variability increased (SDNN 65.6 ± 11.5 vs 61.2 ± 11.4 ms, P < 0.05; LF-power 919 ± 352 vs 816 ± 340 ms2, P < 0.05) when subjects wore the facemask.
Wearing a facemask appears to abrogate the adverse effects of air pollution on blood pressure and heart rate variability. This simple intervention has the potential to protect susceptible individuals and prevent cardiovascular events in cities with high concentrations of ambient air pollution.
Exposure to air pollution is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity, although the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Vascular dysfunction reduces arterial compliance and increases central arterial pressure and left ventricular after-load. We determined the effect of diesel exhaust exposure on arterial compliance using a validated non-invasive measure of arterial stiffness.
In a double-blind randomized fashion, 12 healthy volunteers were exposed to diesel exhaust (approximately 350 μg/m3) or filtered air for one hour during moderate exercise. Arterial stiffness was measured using applanation tonometry at the radial artery for pulse wave analysis (PWA), as well as at the femoral and carotid arteries for pulse wave velocity (PWV). PWA was performed 10, 20 and 30 min, and carotid-femoral PWV 40 min, post-exposure. Augmentation pressure (AP), augmentation index (AIx) and time to wave reflection (Tr) were calculated.
Blood pressure, AP and AIx were generally low reflecting compliant arteries. In comparison to filtered air, diesel exhaust exposure induced an increase in AP of 2.5 mmHg (p = 0.02) and in AIx of 7.8% (p = 0.01), along with a 16 ms reduction in Tr (p = 0.03), 10 minutes post-exposure.
Acute exposure to diesel exhaust is associated with an immediate and transient increase in arterial stiffness. This may, in part, explain the increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with air pollution exposure. If our findings are confirmed in larger cohorts of susceptible populations, this simple non-invasive method of assessing arterial stiffness may become a useful technique in measuring the impact of real world exposures to combustion derived-air pollution.
Rationale: More patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) die of cardiovascular causes than of respiratory causes, and patients with COPD have increased morbidity and mortality from stroke and coronary heart disease. Arterial stiffness independently predicts cardiovascular risk, is associated with atheromatous plaque burden, and is increased in patients with COPD compared with control subjects matched for cardiovascular risk factors. Elastin fragmentation and changes in collagen are found in the connective tissue of both emphysematous lungs and stiff arteries, but it is not known whether the severity of arterial stiffness in patients with COPD is associated with the severity of emphysema.
Objectives: To identify whether the extent of arterial stiffness is associated with emphysema severity.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study in 157 patients with COPD.
Measurements and Main Results: We measured pulse wave velocity (a validated measure of arterial stiffness), blood pressure, smoking pack-years, glucose, cholesterol, and C-reactive protein in 157 patients with COPD. We assessed emphysema using quantitative computed tomography scanning in a subgroup of 73 patients. We found that emphysema severity was associated with arterial stiffness (r = 0.471, P < 0.001). The association was independent of smoking, age, sex, FEV1% predicted, highly sensitive C-reactive protein and glucose concentrations, cholesterol–high-density lipoprotein ratio, and pulse oximetry oxygen saturations.
Conclusions: Emphysema severity is associated with arterial stiffness in patients with COPD. Similar pathophysiological processes may be involved in both lung and arterial tissue and further studies are now required to identify the mechanism underlying this newly described association.
humans; elasticity; cardiovascular diseases; pulmonary emphysema
Exposure to fine particulate air pollution is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We previously demonstrated that exposure to dilute diesel exhaust causes vascular dysfunction in humans.
We conducted a study to determine whether exposure to ambient particulate matter causes vascular dysfunction.
Twelve male patients with stable coronary heart disease and 12 age-matched volunteers were exposed to concentrated ambient fine and ultrafine particles (CAPs) or filtered air for 2 hr using a randomized, double-blind cross-over study design. We measured peripheral vascular vasomotor and fibrinolytic function, and inflammatory variables—including circulating leukocytes, serum C-reactive protein, and exhaled breath 8-isoprostane and nitrotyrosine—6–8 hr after both exposures.
Particulate concentrations (mean ± SE) in the exposure chamber (190 ± 37 μg/m3) were higher than ambient levels (31 ± 8 μg/m3) and levels in filtered air (0.5 ± 0.4 μg/m3; p < 0.001). Chemical analysis of CAPs identified low levels of elemental carbon. Exhaled breath 8-isoprostane concentrations increased after exposure to CAPs (16.9 ± 8.5 vs. 4.9 ± 1.2 pg/mL, p < 0.05), but markers of systemic inflammation were largely unchanged. Although there was a dose-dependent increase in blood flow and plasma tissue plasminogen activator release (p < 0.001 for all), CAPs exposure had no effect on vascular function in either group.
Despite achieving marked increases in particulate matter, exposure to CAPs—low in combustion-derived particles—did not affect vasomotor or fibrinolytic function in either middle-aged healthy volunteers or patients with coronary heart disease. These findings contrast with previous exposures to dilute diesel exhaust and highlight the importance of particle composition in determining the vascular effects of particulate matter in humans.
air pollution; blood flow; endothelium; fibrinolysis; inflammation
Invasive coronary angiography is the gold standard means of imaging bypass vessels and carries a small but potentially serious risk of local vascular complications, including myocardial infarction, stroke and death. We evaluated computed tomography as a non-invasive means of assessing graft patency.
Fifty patients with previous coronary artery bypass surgery who were listed for diagnostic coronary angiography underwent contrast enhanced computed tomography angiography using a 16-slice computed tomography scanner. Images were retrospectively gated to the electrocardiogram and two dimensional axial, multiplanar and three dimensional reconstructions acquired. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value, accuracy and level of agreement for detection of graft patency by multidetector computed tomography.
A total of 116 grafts were suitable for analysis. The specificity of CT for the detection of graft patency was 100%, with a sensitivity of 92.8%, positive predictive value 100%, negative predictive value 85.8% and an accuracy of 94.8%. The kappa value of agreement between the two means of measuring graft patency was 0.9. Mean radiation dose was 9.0 ± 7.2 mSv for coronary angiography and 18.5 ± 4 mSv for computed tomography. Pooled analysis of eight studies, incorporating 932 grafts, confirmed a 97% accuracy for the detection of graft patency by multidetector computed tomography.
Computed tomography is an accurate, rapid and non-invasive method of assessing coronary artery bypass graft patency. However, this was achieved at the expense of an increase in radiation dose.