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5.  Hepatitis B immunisation among invasive cardiologists: poor compliance with United Kingdom guidelines. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):685-688.
OBJECTIVES--To assess the compliance of invasive cardiologists in the United Kingdom with recently accepted national guidelines on the protection of health care workers and patients from hepatitis B. To determine levels of awareness of the infectivity and prevalence of the virus and current attitudes towards screening of patients before cardiac catheterisation and surgery. DESIGN--Anonymous postal survey by questionnaire from the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. The questionnaire established the respondent's position, knowledge of hepatitis B, current immunological state, and policy towards the routine screening of patients for hepatitis B carriage. PARTICIPANTS--All British cardiologists of consultant or senior registrar grade involved in invasive procedures. RESULTS--The response rate was 78% (211/271). 20% of respondents had never been vaccinated against hepatitis B and about a third of those vaccinated had not complied correctly with the recommended immunisation regimen. There was little uniformity in practices for screening patients for hepatitis B carriage before invasive procedures, and the level of knowledge concerning the prevalence of hepatitis B and the risks of inoculation was poor. CONCLUSIONS--Invasive cardiologists are at high risk of inoculation with hepatitis B. Nationally agreed guidelines are designed to protect both medical staff and patients against the risk of infection but currently they are ill heeded.
PMCID: PMC484132  PMID: 8541179
7.  Radiofrequency current caused slowing of non-reentrant idiopathic right ventricular tachycardia originating from a wide arrhythmogenic area. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):698-699.
Radiofrequency catheter ablation was attempted in a patient with non-reentrant idiopathic right ventricular tachycardia (VT). Endocardial mapping indicated that the VT originated in the outflow tract of the right ventricle; however, an electrogram with an almost the identical activation time was recorded from an area extending to 1.0 x 2.0 cm. Each application of radiofrequency current within the area terminated VT, but a progressively slower VT with the same QRS configuration was induced until the area was covered by separate radiofrequency lesions. A progressive prolongation of VT cycle length might be related to a residual arrhythmogenic myocardium. Termination and slowing of the VT rate can be a hallmark of efficacy of each radiofrequency lesion.
PMCID: PMC484139  PMID: 8541183
8.  Dr Black's favourite disease. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):696-697.
PMCID: PMC484138  PMID: 8541182
11.  Risks and results of surgery 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):702.
PMCID: PMC484142  PMID: 8541186
13.  Severe coronary vasospasm associated with hyperthyroidism causing myocardial infarction. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):700-701.
A 48 year old woman presented with angina after an anterior myocardial infarction and was found to be hyperthyroid. Coronary angiography showed a stenosis of the left coronary os and a long, severe stenosis of the left anterior descending artery which was partially relieved by glyceryl trinitrate. Three months later, after radioactive iodine treatment had rendered her euthyroid, repeat coronary angiography showed entirely normal coronary arteries. This unusual case establishes an association between hyperthyroidism and coronary vasospasm resulting in myocardial infarction.
PMCID: PMC484140  PMID: 8541184
14.  Endovascular stents in children under 1 year of age: acute impact and late results. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):689-695.
OBJECTIVES--To review efficacy and safety of endovascular stent implants in children < 1 year of age with congenital heart lesions. DESIGN--Retrospective study of patients in a tertiary care setting. PATIENTS--26 children (median age of 4.7 months, range 2 days to 1 year) with various vascular obstructive lesions. INTERVENTION--Percutaneous or intraoperative implantation of balloon expandable endovascular stents. RESULTS--Optimal stent placement was obtained in 31 of the 37 deployed implants. Complications resulted primarily from stent malpositioning and one episode of bleeding at a puncture site. Stent implantation in three patients with a restrictive arterial duct allowed for patency and five patients with conduit stenosis had mean (SD) right ventricule to systemic artery pressure ratios falling from 0.99 (0.20) to 0.52 (0.18) (P < 0.05). In 10 patients with pulmonary artery stenosis, the mean vessel diameter increased from 2.8 (0.9) mm to 5.8 (1.4) mm (P << 0.001). No clinical improvement was seen in two patients because of diffuse hypoplasia of the pulmonary vessels. Nine of 10 patients with miscellaneous obstructive lesions improved clinically. Recatheterisation was performed in 19 patients (median 8 months, range 12 days to 28 months) and 11 patients required redilatation (17 stents). CONCLUSIONS--Stent implantation is technically feasible in infants and under specific circumstances may provide an alternative to surgical palliation or avoid reoperation. The long term impact on clinical course, however, involves further interventions directed at stent management.
PMCID: PMC484136  PMID: 8541180
15.  Effect of the increasing use of coronary angioplasty on outcome at one year in patients with unstable angina. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):680-684.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether the increasing use of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty in patients with unstable angina has reduced the need for bypass surgery and whether this change in the choice of treatment affected the outcome at one year in patients with unstable angina who were admitted to hospital in two different periods of time. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of consecutive patients with unstable angina (angina at rest with ST-T changes during pain) who underwent coronary arteriography in two different periods of time. PATIENTS--158 patients were admitted to hospital between January 1988 and June 1989 (group 1) and 140 patients admitted between January 1992 and June 1993 (group 2). RESULTS--Coronary angioplasty procedures nearly doubled from 29% in group 1 to 56% in group 2 whereas bypass surgery decreased from 36% in group 1 to 23% in group 2 (P < 0.01). Coronary angioplasty increased and bypass surgery decreased in patients with one vessel disease (P < 0.01), two vessel disease (P < 0.05), and three vessel disease (P < 0.01). Coronary angioplasty also increased and bypass surgery decreased in refractory angina and in patients with ejection fraction < 0.50 (both P < 0.05). At 1-year follow up, 14 patients in group 1 (9%) and 10 in group 2 (7%) either died or had myocardial infarction (P = NS). Revascularisation procedures were needed in 16 group 1 patients (10%) and 27 group 2 patients (19%, P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS--Coronary angioplasty became more widely used in patients with unstable angina. This reduced the need for bypass surgery in patients with multivessel disease, refractory angina, and depressed left ventricular function. This change in treatment did not affect 1-year mortality or the myocardial infarction rate. More patients in the more recent group in which angioplasty was the preferred treatment required a further revascularisation procedure than in the earlier group in which bypass grafting was more often used as the initial treatment.
PMCID: PMC484131  PMID: 8541178
16.  Use of lead adjustment formulas for QT dispersion after myocardial infarction. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):676-679.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether lead adjustment formulas for correcting QT dispersion measurements are appropriate in patients after myocardial infarction. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of QTc dispersion measurements in 461 electrocardiograms (ECGs). Data are presented as uncorrected QTc dispersion "adjusted" for a number of measurable leads and coefficient of variation of QTc intervals for ECGs in which between six and 12 leads had a QT interval that could be measured accurately. PATIENTS--Patients were drawn from the placebo arm of the second Leicester Intravenous Magnesium Intervention Trial. Some 163 patients who subsequently died and an equal number of known survivors had ECGs recorded on day 2 or 3 of acute myocardial infarction. ECGs were also available in 135 of these patients from at least 1 month postinfarct. RESULTS--The most common lead in which a QT interval measurement was omitted was aVR (n = 176), the least common lead was V3 (n = 13). The longest QTc interval measured was most usually in lead V4 (n = 72) and the shortest in lead V1 (n = 67). As the number of measurable leads decreased there was a small, nonsignificant increase in QTc dispersion from 12 lead to eight lead ECGs (mean (SD) 100 (35.5) v 109.5 (47.9) ms). Lead adjusted QTc dispersion (QTc dispersion/square root of the number of measurable leads) showed a large, significant increase when the number of measurable leads decreased from 12 to eight (28.9 (10.3) v 38.7 (16.1) ms, P < 0.001). A similar trend was seen for coefficient of variation of QTc intervals (standard deviation of QTc intervals/mean QTc interval 64.3 (2.19) v 8.45 (3.94)%, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS--Lead adjustment formulas for QT dispersion are not appropriate in patients with myocardial infarction. Large differences in lead adjusted QTc dispersion are produced, dependent on the number of measurable leads, for very small differences in QTc dispersion. It is recommended that QT dispersion is presented as unadjusted QT and QTc dispersion, stating the mean (SD) of the number of leads in which a QT interval was measured.
PMCID: PMC484130  PMID: 8541177
17.  Long term results of fast pathway ablation in atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia using a modified technique. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):671-675.
OBJECTIVE--To assess immediate and long term success of "fast" pathway catheter ablation with graded use of radiofrequency energy in patients with classic atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT) and evaluate clinical, procedure related, and electrophysiological features affecting long term results. DESIGN--31 consecutive patients with classic AVNRT at electrophysiological study, who were candidates for radiofrequency ablation. Patients were followed for an average of 24 months after ablation. SETTING--All studies and ablations were performed in an electrophysiological laboratory under fluoroscopic guidance using standard electrophysiological techniques. INTERVENTION--Radiofrequency application was performed at the site of proximal His bundle electrogram with A:V ratio of > 1. It was started at 10 W with increment of 5 W to a maximum of 25 W at 60 s. With the onset of junctional rhythm, atrial pacing was begun in order to monitor the PR interval. Application was terminated prematurely with a non-conducted P wave, continued prolongation of the PR interval beyond 50% of the baseline, or a threefold rise in impedance. RESULTS--Successful ablation was possible in 30/31 patients (97%) with an average of seven applications (range 1-10). It was associated with significant prolongation of PR interval (P < 0.001) and AV Wenckebach cycle length (P = 0.01). Ventriculo-atrial conduction was abolished in 24/30 patients (82%) with successful ablation. Two patients developed transient complete heart block (3 and 12 min) and one persistent right branch block. Four patients had late recurrence. Presence of ventriculo-atrial block was the only electrophysiological index predictive of long term success (P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS--Graded use of radiofrequency energy and atrial pacing to monitor PR interval decreases the risk of atrioventricular block in patients undergoing fast pathway ablation for AVNRT. Ventriculo-atrial block is predictive of long term success and should be a preferred end point for fast pathway ablation.
PMCID: PMC484128  PMID: 8541176
18.  Appetite suppressants and primary pulmonary hypertension in the United Kingdom. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):660-663.
OBJECTIVE--Amphetamine-like appetite suppressants, particularly fenfluramines, have been implicated in the aetiology of primary pulmonary hypertension. At one specialist centre in France 20% of patients with primary pulmonary hypertension had been exposed to fenfluramine. The prevalence of primary pulmonary hypertension associated with fenfluramines and other appetite suppressants in the United Kingdom is unknown. This study was performed to measure prior exposure to appetite suppressants in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension. SETTING--Heart lung transplantation centres in England. PATIENTS--United Kingdom residents with proven primary pulmonary hypertension referred for consideration of heart lung transplantation. METHODS--Case surveillance study, obtaining data from the hospital and general practitioner's notes and directly from the patients or their relatives. RESULTS--55 patients were identified. Drug histories were available from hospital records in all patients, from the general practitioner's notes in 51, and from the patients or relatives in 44. Of these, 3 female patients had been exposed to appetite suppressants (2 fenfluramine, 1 diethylpropion): 2 have since died. In each case exposure was brief and apparently predated the development of symptoms by several years. CONCLUSIONS--Exposure of patients with severe primary pulmonary hypertension to fenfluramine and other appetite suppressants is uncommon in the United Kingdom unlike in France, where most of the cases associating primary pulmonary hypertension with fenfluramine use have originated. This may reflect more conservative prescribing of these agents in the United Kingdom.
PMCID: PMC484125  PMID: 8541174
19.  Transient reduction of human left ventricular mass in carnitine depletion induced by antibiotics containing pivalic acid. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):656-659.
OBJECTIVE--To study the effect of induced carnitine depletion on myocardial structure and function. SUBJECTS AND DESIGN--7 healthy adult volunteers given 1200 mg pivmecillinam per day for 7-8 weeks were studied by echocardiography before and after 7-8 weeks of treatment and a 15 months follow up after the treatment period. SETTING--Teaching hospital. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Carnitine concentration in serum, urine, and muscle and echocardiographic measurements. RESULTS--After 7-8 weeks of treatment the median free serum carnitine concentration was reduced to 7% and the median total muscle carnitine concentration to 46% of the pretreatment levels. The median diastolic interventricular septum thickness decreased by 14% (mean 26%, P = 0.028) and the median left ventricular mass by 10% (mean 20%, P = 0.018). Fifteen months later these dimensions had increased but not completely returned to pretreatment values. CONCLUSIONS--Extended treatment with pivalic acid containing antibiotics causes carnitine depletion which may lead to changes in cardiac structure.
PMCID: PMC484124  PMID: 8541173
20.  Disopyramide stress test: a sensitive and specific tool for predicting impending high degree atrioventricular block in patients with bifascicular block. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):650-655.
OBJECTIVE--To study the value of intravenous disopyramide as part of an invasive electrophysiological study in predicting impending high degree atrioventricular block in patients with bifascicular block. DESIGN--An invasive electrophysiological study was performed in the basal state and after the infusion of disopyramide (2 mg/kg body weight). The progression to high degree atrioventricular block was assessed by bradycardia-detecting pacemakers or repeated 12-lead electrocardiogram recordings, or both. PATIENTS--73 patients with bifascicular block were included, of whom 25 had a history of unexplained syncope. The remaining 48 patients had no arrhythmia related symptoms and were included as controls. All patients had an ejection fraction of > 35%. RESULTS--After a mean follow up of 23 months, seven patients in the syncope group and three in the non-syncope group had a documented high degree atrioventricular block or pacemaker-detected bradycardia of < or = 30 beats/min for > or = 6 s. The sensitivity of the disopyramide test was 71% and the specificity 98%. The corresponding figures for an abnormal electrophysiological study in the basal state were 14% and 91%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS--The sensitivity of an invasive electrophysiological study in patients with bifascicular block and syncope can be markedly increased by the use of intravenous disopyramide. A positive test is a highly specific finding and warrants pacemaker implantation.
PMCID: PMC484123  PMID: 8541172
21.  Pseudoaneurysm following aortic homograft: clinical implications? 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):645-649.
OBJECTIVE--To determine the prevalence of pseudoaneurysm formation after aortic (left ventricular outflow tract) homograft implantation and to evaluate predisposing factors. METHODS--Echocardiographic data were analysed in 30 patients for evidence of pseudoaneurysm formation after homograft implantation. Pseudoaneurysm was characterised as a perfused echo-free space between the homograft and the native aortic wall communicating with the left ventricular outflow tract. Clinical data were analysed for potential predisposing factors for pseudoaneurysm formation. RESULTS--Pseudoaneurysms were found in 22 of 30 patients. Mean age, length of follow up after surgery, aortic systolic pressure gradient (15 (SD 12) v 10 (4) mm Hg), aortic root diameter, and size of the homografts were comparable in patients with and without pseudoaneurysm. preoperative infection, operating techniques, and whether first or reoperation did not affect pseudoaneurysm formation. However, pseudoaneurysms were often localised at the site of an abscess or a paravalvular leak after eradicated prosthetic valve endocarditis. CONCLUSIONS--(1) Doppler echocardiography demonstrates that pseudoaneurysm formation is common after aortic homograft implantation. (2) A prospective study is needed to clarify the prognostic importance of pseudoaneurysms. (3) The high incidence of pseudoaneurysm formation may lead to an improvement of surgical technique (application of fibrin glue).
PMCID: PMC484122  PMID: 8541171
22.  Decreased platelet function in aortic valve stenosis: high shear platelet activation then inactivation. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):641-644.
OBJECTIVE--To elucidate the mechanism of the bleeding tendency observed in patients with aortic valve stenosis. DESIGN--A prospective study of high and low shear platelet function tests in vitro in normal controls compared with that in patients with severe aortic valve stenosis with a mean (SD) systolic gradient by Doppler of 75 (18) mm Hg before and at least 4 months after aortic valve replacement. SETTING--District general hospital. RESULTS--The patients showed reduced retention in the high shear platelet function tests. (a) Platelet retention in the filter test was 53.6 (12.6)% in patients with aortic valve stenosis and 84.8 (9.6)% in the controls (P < 0.001). (b) Retention in the glass bead column test was 49.8 (19.2) in the patients and 87.4 (8.7) in the controls (P < 0.001). (c) The standard bleeding time was longer in the patients (P < 0.06). Results of the high shear tests (a, b, and c) after aortic valve replacement were within the normal range. The platelet count was low but within the normal range before surgery and increased postoperatively (P < 0.01). There were no differences in the results of standard clotting tests, plasma and intraplatelet von Willebrand's factor, or in 15 platelet aggregation tests using five agonists between patients with aortic valve stenosis and controls. CONCLUSIONS--The high shear haemodynamics of aortic valve stenosis modify platelet function in vivo predisposing to a bleeding tendency. This abnormality of platelet function is detectable only in vitro using high shear tests. The abnormal function is reversed by aortic valve replacement. High shear forces in vitro activate and then inactivate platelets. By the same mechanisms aortic valve stenosis seems to lead to high shear damage in vivo, resulting in a clinically important bleeding tendency in some patients.
PMCID: PMC484121  PMID: 8541170
23.  Effect of low dose sotalol on the signal averaged P wave in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):636-640.
OBJECTIVE--To investigate the effects of low dose sotalol on the signal averaged surface P wave in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. DESIGN--A longitudinal within patient crossover study. SETTING--Cardiac departments of a regional cardiothoracic centre and a district general hospital. PATIENTS--Sixteen patients with documented paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The median (range) age of the patients was 65.5 (36-70) years; 11 were men. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Analysis of the signal averaged P wave recorded from patients not receiving antiarrhythmic medication and after 4-6 weeks' treatment with sotalol. P wave limits were defined automatically by a computer algorithm. Filtered P wave duration and energies contained in frequency bands from 20, 30, 40, 60, and 80 to 150 Hz of the P wave spectrum expressed as absolute values (P20, P30, etc) and as ratios of high to low frequency energy (PR20, PR30, etc) were measured. RESULTS--No difference in P wave duration was observed between the groups studied (mean (SEM) 149 (4) without medication and 152 (3) ms with sotalol). Significant decreases in high frequency P wave energy (for example P60: 4.3 (0.4) v 3.3 (0.3) microV2.s, P = 0.003) and energy ratio (PR60: 5.6 (0.5) v 4.7 (0.6), P = 0.03) were observed during sotalol treatment. These changes were independent of heart rate. CONCLUSIONS--Treatment with low dose sotalol reduces high frequency P wave energy but does not change P wave duration. These results are consistent with the class III effect of the drug and suggest that signal averaging of the surface P wave may be a useful non-invasive measure of drug induced changes in atrial electrophysiology.
PMCID: PMC484120  PMID: 8541169
24.  Interaction of ischaemia and encainide/flecainide treatment: a proposed mechanism for the increased mortality in CAST I. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):631-635.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether an interaction between encainide or flecainide and intercurrent ischaemia could account for the observed increase in cardiac and sudden deaths in the study group in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) I. DESIGN--CAST I was a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study in which patients received the drug which suppressed at least 6 premature ventricular contractions per minute by 80% or episodes of non-sustained ventricular tachycardia by 90%. Arrhythmic sudden death or aborted sudden death were the study end points. Measured secondary end points included recurrent myocardial infarction, new or increasing angina pectoris, congestive heart failure, and syncope. The CAST I database was analysed to determine which of three end points occurred first--cardiac death or cardiac arrest, angina pectoris, or non-fatal recurrent infarction. They were regarded as mutually exclusive end points. The triad of cardiac or sudden arrhythmic death plus congestive heart failure and syncope was similarly analysed. RESULTS--It was assumed that recurrent non-fatal infarction and new or increasing angina pectoris were ischaemic in origin. The sum of these non-fatal ischaemic end points and sudden death were nearly identical in the placebo group (N = 129) and the treatment group (N = 131). The one year event rate in each group was 21%. However, the treatment group had a much greater fatality rate (55 v 17; P < 0.0001) than the placebo group. The same relation was found when the data were examined on the basis of drug exposure rather than intention to treat. The temporal and circadian events were similar in each group and were consistent with an ischaemic pattern. No such patterns emerged from analysis of the presumed non-ischaemic end points of congestive heart failure and syncope. CONCLUSIONS--These data suggest that the interaction between active ischaemia and treatment with encainide or flecainide may have been responsible for the increased mortality seen in the treatment group in CAST I. This conversion of a non-fatal to a fatal event emphasises the need for future antiarrhythmic drugs to be screened in ischaemic models.
PMCID: PMC484119  PMID: 8541168
25.  Plasma mediated neutrophil stimulation during coronary angioplasty: autocrine effect of platelet activating factor. 
British Heart Journal  1995;74(6):625-630.
BACKGROUND--Polymorphonuclear neutrophils are involved in the development of myocardial injury during ischaemia and reperfusion. Coronary angioplasty has been shown to result in neutrophil activation. This may be a result of contact with ligands expressed by endothelial cells or response to soluble stimuli released from ischaemic tissue into the plasma or both. OBJECTIVE--To investigate plasma mediated neutrophil activation during angioplasty. METHODS AND RESULTS--Plasma samples were collected from the coronary sinus, femoral artery, and femoral vein of 14 patients undergoing angioplasty, before and after the first balloon inflation and at the end of the procedure. Plasma samples were incubated with washed neutrophils isolated from healthy donors. Expression of the adhesion molecules CD18 integrin and L-selectin (Leu-8) was measured by flow cytometry, and superoxide anion production was measured by chemiluminescence. Plasma samples from the coronary sinus and femoral artery but not from the peripheral vein induced increased expression of neutrophil CD18 after balloon deflation. Modification of the expression of L-selectin was not noted. Production of superoxide anion by neutrophils was stimulated by plasma samples from the coronary sinus, but not by those from the femoral artery or vein. This plasma mediated neutrophil stimulation was prevented when the neutrophils were pretreated with platelet activating factor receptor antagonists BN52021 or BN50739. The platelet activating factor concentration detected in the coronary sinus was not higher than in control plasma. CONCLUSION--Brief ischaemia during coronary angioplasty leads to the release of soluble stimuli capable of inducing neutrophil integrin expression and free oxygen radical production. Platelet activating factor may act as an autocrine neutrophil stimulus under these conditions.
PMCID: PMC484118  PMID: 8541167

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