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1.  Aldosterone-to-Renin Ratio Is Associated With Reduced 24-Hour Heart Rate Variability and QTc Prolongation in Hypertensive Patients 
Medicine  2016;95(8):e2794.
Aldosterone is considered to exert direct effects on the myocardium and the sympathetic nervous system. Both QT time and heart rate (HR) variability (HRV) are considered to be markers of arrhythmic risk and autonomous dysregulation. In this study, we investigated the associations between aldosterone, QT time, and HRV in patients with arterial hypertension.
We recruited 477 hypertensive patients (age: 60.2 ± 10.2 years; 52.3% females) with a mean systolic/diastolic 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) value of 128 ± 12.8/77.1 ± 9.2 mmHg and with a median of 2 (IQR: 1–3) antihypertensive agents. Patients were recruited from the outpatient clinic at the Department of Internal Medicine of the Medical University of Graz, Austria. Blood samples, 24-hour HRV derived from 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) and ECG's were obtained. Plasma aldosterone and plasma renin concentrations were measured by means of a radioimmunoassay. Twenty-four-hour urine specimens were collected in parallel with ABPM.
Mean QTc was 423.3 ± 42.0 milliseconds for males and 434.7 ± 38.3 milliseconds for females. Mean 24H-HR and 24H-HRV was 71.9 ± 9.8 and 10.0 ± 3.6 bpm, respectively. In linear regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, ABPM, and current medication, aldosterone to active renin ratio (AARR) was significantly associated with the QTc interval, a marker for cardiac repolarization abnormalities (mean = 426 ± 42.4 milliseconds; β-coefficient = 0.121; P = 0.03) as well as with the 24-hour heart rate variability a surrogate for autonomic dysfunction (median = 9.67 [IQR = 7.38–12.22 bpm]; β-coefficient = −0.133; P = 0.01).
In hypertensive patients, AARR is significantly related to QTc prolongation as well as HRV. Further studies investigating the effects of mineralocorticoid receptor blocker and aldosterone synthase inhibitors on QTc and HRV are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4779006  PMID: 26937909
2.  Vitamin D Supplementation and Hemoglobin Levels in Hypertensive Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Epidemiological evidence suggests that circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels are inversely associated with hemoglobin (Hb) levels and anemia risk. We evaluated whether vitamin D supplementation improves Hb levels and reduces anemia risk in hypertensive patients. Two hundred patients with 25OHD levels <75 nmol/L who attended the Styrian Vitamin D Hypertension Trial were included, of whom 188 completed the trial. Patients randomly received 2800 IU vitamin D3 daily or a matching placebo for eight weeks. Initially, the prevalence of anemic status (Hb levels <12.5 g/dL) and deficient 25OHD levels (<30 nmol/L) was 6.5% and 7.5%, respectively. All anemic patients had 25OHD levels >50 nmol/L. The mean (95% confidence interval) vitamin D effect on Hb levels was 0.04 (−0.14 to 0.22) g/dL (P = 0.661). Moreover, vitamin D treatment did not influence anemic status significantly (P > 0.999). Likewise, vitamin D had no significant effect on Hb levels in the subgroups of anemic patients or in patients with initial 25OHD levels <30 nmol/L. In conclusion, a daily vitamin D supplement of 2800 IU for eight weeks did not improve Hb levels or anemic status in hypertensive patients. Future trials should focus on anemic patients with deficient 25OHD levels (e.g., <30 nmol/L). This trial is registered with [NCT02136771].
PMCID: PMC4781958  PMID: 27006655
3.  Associations of daytime, nighttime, and 24 h heart rate with four distinct markers of inflammation in hypertensive patients: the Styrian Hypertension Study 
The current study assessed which measure of heart rate (HR) is most associated with inflammatory activity. Among 368 hypertensive patients (mean age±SD, 60.6±10.8; 52.9% women), mean daytime (from 06:00–22:00 h), nighttime (from 22:00–06:00 h), and 24 h HR were recorded using a continuous 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring portable device. Associations of daytime, nighttime, and 24 h HR with leukocytes, platelets, C-reactive protein [CRP], and 25-hydroxyvitamin D were calculated using multivariate linear regression, reporting unstandardized coefficients (B) with standard errors (SE). Mean daytime, nighttime, and 24 h HR were 73, 64, and 71 beats/min, respectively. All HR measures were positively associated with leukocytes after adjustment. Nighttime HR was additionally related with higher CRP. When all HR measures were simultaneously added to a single multivariate model, only the positive associations of nighttime HR with leukocytes (B [SE] = 0.06 [0.03], P =0.04), as well as with CRP (B [SE] = 0.20 [0.07], P =0.005) persisted. Nighttime HR was more closely associated with inflammatory activity. These observations lend some insight towards the pathophysiological mechanisms that implicate HR in cardiovascular risk, and afford valuable direction for forthcoming investigations.
PMCID: PMC4270835  PMID: 25266946
Heart rate; inflammation; hypertension; marker; cardiovascular risk
4.  Circulating Dopamine and C-Peptide Levels in Fasting Nondiabetic Hypertensive Patients 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(8):1771-1773.
Accumulating evidence supports a potential role for dopamine in the regulation of insulin secretion. We examined the association between circulating dopamine and C-peptide concentrations using data from the Graz Endocrine Causes of Hypertension (GECOH) study.
After 12 h of fasting, we measured plasma dopamine and serum C-peptide levels and established determining factors of insulin secretion in 201 nondiabetic hypertensive patients (mean age 48.1 ± 16.0 years; 61.7% women).
Mean dopamine and C-peptide concentration were 33.4 ± 38.6 pg/mL and 3.1 ± 2.7 ng/mL, respectively. A strong and inverse correlation was observed between dopamine and C-peptide levels (r = −0.423, P < 0.001). There was no significant relationship between C-peptide, plasma epinephrine, and norepinephrine. C-peptide levels decreased steadily and significantly from tertile 1 of dopamine (3.6 ng/mL [95% CI 2.9–4.1]) to tertile 3 (1.6 ng/mL [1.5–2.7], P < 0.001) after multivariate adjustment.
The inverse association between dopamine and C-peptide highlights the need to evaluate whether dopamine could be effective for modulating endocrine pancreatic function.
PMCID: PMC3402263  PMID: 22699284
5.  Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Disease 
Nutrients  2013;5(8):3005-3021.
Vitamin D deficiency, as well as cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and related risk factors are highly prevalent worldwide and frequently co-occur. Vitamin D has long been known to be an essential part of bone metabolism, although recent evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a key role in the pathophysiology of other diseases, including CVD, as well. In this review, we aim to summarize the most recent data on the involvement of vitamin D deficiency in the development of major cardiovascular risk factors: hypertension, obesity and dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and endothelial dysfunction. In addition, we outline the most recent observational, as well as interventional data on the influence of vitamin D on CVD. Since it is still an unresolved issue whether vitamin D deficiency is causally involved in the pathogenesis of CVD, data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) designed to assess the impact of vitamin D supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes are awaited with anticipation. At present, we can only conclude that vitamin D deficiency is an independent cardiovascular risk factor, but whether vitamin D supplementation can significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes is still largely unknown.
PMCID: PMC3775239  PMID: 23912328
vitamin D; 25-OH-cholecalciferol; vitamin D deficiency; cardiovascular disease; cardiovascular risk factors; mortality
6.  Vitamin D, arterial hypertension & cerebrovascular disease 
Vitamin D is mainly derived from endogenous ultraviolet-B induced vitamin D synthesis in the skin, and the current high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency can, therefore, largely be attributed to lifestyle related low sunlight exposure. Regulation of bone and mineral metabolism is a classic vitamin D effect, but the identification of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in almost all human cells suggests a role for vitamin D also in extra-skeletal diseases. Experimental studies demonstrated several antihypertensive and vascular protective effects of vitamin D, such as suppression of the renin angiotensin aldosterone system, beneficial modulation of classic cardiovascular risk factors, and anti-atherosclerotic properties including improvements of endothelial function. Additional neuroprotective actions of vitamin D have also been reported. In line with this, epidemiological studies have largely shown that vitamin D deficiency is an independent risk factor for arterial hypertension and strokes. Data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are, however, limited and less promising, with currently no confirmation that vitamin D reduces stroke incidence. Whereas some RCTs suggest that vitamin D supplementation might modestly reduce blood pressure, this has not been consistently observed in all studies. It is, therefore, premature to recommend vitamin D supplementation for the prevention and treatment of arterial hypertension and stroke. Nevertheless, the fact that patients with arterial hypertension and cerebrovascular disease are at a relatively high risk of vitamin D deficiency, and therewith associated musculoskeletal diseases can serve as a rationale for the evaluation, prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency in these patients.
PMCID: PMC3724247  PMID: 23703334
Arterial hypertension; blood pressure; cerebrovascular; epidemiology; stroke; vitamin D
7.  Effect of eplerenone on parathyroid hormone levels in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Increasing evidence suggests the bidirectional interplay between parathyroid hormone and aldosterone as an important mechanism behind the increased risk of cardiovascular damage and bone disease observed in primary hyperparathyroidism. Our primary object is to assess the efficacy of the mineralocorticoid receptor-blocker eplerenone to reduce parathyroid hormone secretion in patients with parathyroid hormone excess.
Overall, 110 adult male and female patients with primary hyperparathyroidism will be randomly assigned to eplerenone (25 mg once daily for 4 weeks and 4 weeks with 50 mg once daily after dose titration] or placebo, over eight weeks. Each participant will undergo detailed clinical assessment, including anthropometric evaluation, 24-h ambulatory arterial blood pressure monitoring, echocardiography, kidney function and detailed laboratory determination of biomarkers of bone metabolism and cardiovascular disease.
The study comprises the following exploratory endpoints: mean change from baseline to week eight in (1) parathyroid hormone(1–84) as the primary endpoint and (2) 24-h systolic and diastolic ambulatory blood pressure levels, NT-pro-BNP, biomarkers of bone metabolism, 24-h urinary protein/albumin excretion and echocardiographic parameters reflecting systolic and diastolic function as well as cardiac dimensions, as secondary endpoints.
In view of the reciprocal interaction between aldosterone and parathyroid hormone and the potentially ensuing target organ damage, the EPATH trial is designed to determine whether eplerenone, compared to placebo, will effectively impact on parathyroid hormone secretion and improve cardiovascular, renal and bone health in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3515510  PMID: 22974443
Aldosterone; Mineralocorticoid receptor blocker; Hyperparathyroidism
8.  Associations of Sun Exposure with 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Parathyroid Hormone Levels in a Cohort of Hypertensive Patients: The Graz Endocrine Causes of Hypertension (GECOH) Study 
Sunlight-induced vitamin D, synthesis in the skin is the major source of vitamin D, but data on the relationship of sun-related behaviour with vitamin D and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels are relatively sparse. We evaluated whether habitual sun exposure is associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and PTH levels and whether there exist seasonal variations. We examined 111 hypertensive patients in Austria (latitude 47° N). Frequent sunbathing at home and outdoor sports were associated with higher 25(OH)D levels (P < 0.05 for both). Red or blond scalp hair as a child, memory of sunburns, preferring sunbathing, frequent stays on the beach or in open-air pools, and solarium use were associated with lower PTH levels (P < 0.05 for all). Multiple linear regression analyses including age, sex, and body mass index showed that sun exposure score was significantly associated with 25(OH)D (beta coefficient = 0.27; P = 0.004) and by trend with PTH (beta coefficient = −0.16; P = 0.09). These associations were more prominent in summer in which 25(OH)D levels were significantly higher compared to winter. Translation of these findings into recommendations for the prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency remains a challenge for the future.
PMCID: PMC3296164  PMID: 22518130

Results 1-8 (8)