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1.  Carotid revascularization: risks and benefits 
Despite a decline during the recent decades in stroke-related death, the incidence of stroke has remained unchanged or slightly increased, and extracranial carotid artery stenosis is implicated in 20%–30% of all strokes. Medical therapy and risk factor modification are first-line therapies for all patients with carotid occlusive disease. Evidence for the treatment of patients with symptomatic carotid stenosis greater than 70% with either carotid artery stenting (CAS) or carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is compelling, and several trials have demonstrated a benefit to carotid revascularization in the symptomatic patient population. Asymptomatic carotid stenosis is more controversial, with the largest trials only demonstrating a 1% per year risk stroke reduction with CEA. Although there are sufficient data to advocate for aggressive medical therapy as the primary mode of treatment for asymptomatic carotid stenosis, there are also data to suggest that certain patient populations will benefit from a stroke risk reduction with carotid revascularization. In the United States, consensus and practice guidelines dictate that CEA is reasonable in patients with high-grade asymptomatic stenosis, a reasonable life expectancy, and perioperative risk of less than 3%. Regarding CAS versus CEA, the best-available evidence demonstrates no difference between the two procedures in early perioperative stroke, myocardial infarction, or death, and no difference in 4-year ipsilateral stroke risk. However, because of the higher perioperative risks of stroke in patients undergoing CAS, particularly in symptomatic, female, or elderly patients, it is difficult to recommend CAS over CEA except in populations with prohibitive cardiac risk, previous carotid surgery, or prior neck radiation. Current treatment paradigms are based on identifying the magnitude of perioperative risk in patient subsets and on using predictive factors to stratify patients with high-risk asymptomatic stenosis.
PMCID: PMC4094625  PMID: 25045271
carotid stenosis; carotid endarterectomy; carotid stent
2.  Update on ranolazine in the management of angina 
Mortality rates attributable to coronary heart disease have declined in recent years, possibly related to changes in clinical presentation patterns and use of proven secondary prevention strategies. Chronic stable angina (CSA) remains prevalent, and the goal of treatment is control of symptoms and reduction in cardiovascular events. Ranolazine is a selective inhibitor of the late sodium current in myocytes with anti-ischemic and metabolic properties. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2006 for use in patients with CSA. Multiple, randomized, placebo-controlled trials have shown that ranolazine improves functional capacity and decreases anginal episodes in CSA patients, despite a lack of a significant hemodynamic effect. Ranolazine did not improve cardiovascular mortality or affect incidence of myocardial infarction in the MERLIN (Metabolic Efficiency with Ranolazine for Less Ischemia in Non-ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndrome)-TIMI (Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction) 36 trial, but significantly decreased the incidence of recurrent angina. More recently, ranolazine has been shown to have beneficial and potent antiarrhythmic effects, both on supraventricular and ventricular tachyarrhythmias, largely due to its inhibition of the late sodium current. Randomized controlled trials testing these effects are underway. Lastly, ranolazine appears to be cost-effective due to its ability to decrease angina-related hospitalizations and improve quality of life.
PMCID: PMC4077852  PMID: 25028555
ranolazine; chronic stable angina; coronary artery disease
3.  Epidemiology of stroke in a rural community in Southeastern Nigeria 
The prevalence and incidence of stroke vary from community to community worldwide. Nonetheless, not much is known about the current epidemiology of stroke in rural Nigeria and indeed Africa.
We carried out a two-phase door-to-door survey in a rural, predominantly low-income, community in Anambra, Southeastern Nigeria. We used a modified World Health Organization (WHO) protocol for detecting neurological diseases in the first phase, and a stroke-specific questionnaire and neurological examination in the second phase. An equal number of sex- and age-matched stroke-negative subjects were examined.
We identified ten stroke subjects in the study. The crude prevalence of stroke in rural Nigeria was 1.63 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.78–3.00) per 1,000 population. The crude prevalence of stroke in males was 1.99 (95% CI 0.73–4.33) per 1,000, while that for females was 1.28 (95% CI 0.35–3.28) per 1,000 population. The peak age-specific prevalence of stroke was 12.08 (95% CI 3.92–28.19) per 1,000, while after adjustment to WHO world population, the peak was 1.0 (95% CI 0.33–2.33) per 1,000.
The prevalence of stroke was found to be higher than previously documented in rural Nigeria, with a slightly higher prevalence in males than females. This is, however, comparable to data from rural Africa.
PMCID: PMC4077857  PMID: 25028556
Africa; developing country; prevalence
4.  Defining risks and predicting adverse events after lower extremity bypass for critical limb ischemia 
Successful treatment of patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI), hinges on the adequacy of revascularization. However, CLI is associated with a severe burden of systemic atherosclerosis, and patients often suffer from multiple cardiovascular comorbidities. Therefore, CLI patients in general represent a cohort at increased risk for procedural complications and adverse events. Although endovascular therapy represents a minimally invasive alternative to open surgical bypass, the durability of surgical reconstruction is superior, and it remains the “gold standard” approach to revascularization in CLI. Therefore, selection of the optimal treatment modality for individual patients requires careful consideration of the procedural risks and likelihood of adverse events associated with surgery. Individualized decision-making with regard to revascularization strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of the likelihood of adverse outcomes after major surgery. Here we review the risks of surgical bypass in patients with CLI, with particular emphasis on the identification of preoperative variables that predict poor outcome.
PMCID: PMC4075947  PMID: 25018636
critical limb ischemia; bypass; adverse events
5.  The triple line pattern on carotid intima media thickness imaging and its relationship to cardiovascular risk factors in patients on lipid lowering therapy 
Carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) infrequently identifies a triple line pattern (TLP) in the visualization of the internal elastic lamina. We examined the prevalence and predictors of the TLP among a consecutive series of subjects enrolled in a CIMT clinical trial, and also the effects of lipid lowering therapy.
Baseline CIMT studies of subjects with known heart disease, or high risk for heart disease, were evaluated from a single site of the Arterial Biology for the Investigation of the Treatment Effects of Reducing Cholesterol 6-HDL and LDL Treatment Strategies in Atherosclerosis trial (N=120). One sonographer obtained four views of the right and left far wall common CIMT, using a 13 MHz ultrasound probe. Images were blindly reviewed for the presence of the TLP. The TLP was defined as absent (0), possible (1), or definite (2). A composite score from all four views was calculated. A patient was defined as having the TLP if the composite score was ≥4. Univariate predictors of the TLP were explored. Follow-up ultrasounds at 14 months were also reviewed for presence of the TLP.
The prevalence of the TLP at baseline was 22.5%. Among cardiovascular risk variables, systolic blood pressure was significantly higher in subjects displaying the TLP (141.3±15.6 mmHg versus 133.1±18.4 mmHg; P=0.036). There were no differences among those with, and without, the TLP, with respect to other cardiovascular risk variables (age, sex, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, C-reactive protein, glucose, weight, waist girth, tobacco use, medications, quantitative CIMT), or image quality. During ongoing lipid lowering therapy, the prevalence of the TLP increased to 54.2% (P<0.001). However, it was unrelated to changes in lipid concentrations or cardiovascular risk variables.
The TLP in CIMT imaging is commonly identifiable using high-frequency ultrasound, and appears to be associated with higher systolic blood pressure. Its prevalence and incidence is unrelated to lipid parameters.
PMCID: PMC4074186  PMID: 25018635
risk factors; HTN; atherosclerosis; CIMT
6.  How are patients with type 2 diabetes and renal disease monitored and managed? Insights from the observational OREDIA study 
Background and aim
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is frequent in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and therapeutic management of diabetes is more challenging in patients with renal impairment (RI). The place of metformin is of particular interest since most scientific societies now recommend using half the dosage in moderate RI and abstaining from use in severe RI, while the classic contraindication with RI has not been removed from the label. This study aimed to assess the therapeutic management, in particular the use of metformin, of T2DM patients with CKD in real life.
This was a French cross-sectional observational study: 3,704 patients with T2DM diagnosed for over 1 year and pharmacologically treated were recruited in two cohorts (two-thirds were considered to have renal disease [CKD patients] and one-third were not [non-CKD patients]) by 968 physicians (81% general practitioners) in 2012.
CKD versus non-CKD patients were significantly older with longer diabetes history, more diabetic complications, and less strict glycemic control (mean glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c] 7.5% versus 7.1%; 25% of CKD patients had HbA1c ≥8% versus 15% of non-CKD patients). Fifteen percent of CKD patients had severe RI, and 66% moderate RI. Therapeutic management of T2DM was clearly distinct in CKD, with less use of metformin (62% versus 86%) but at similar mean daily doses (~2 g/d). Of patients with severe RI, 33% were still treated with metformin, at similar doses. For other oral anti-diabetics, a distinct pattern of use was seen across renal function (RF): use of sulfonylureas (32%, 31%, and 20% in normal RF, moderate RI, and severe RI, respectively) and DPP4-i (dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors) (41%, 36%, and 25%, respectively) decreased with RF, while that of glinides increased (8%, 14%, and 18%, respectively). CKD patients were more frequently treated with insulin (40% versus 16% of non-CKD patients), and use of insulin increased with deterioration of RF (19%, 39%, and 61% of patients with normal RF, moderate RI, and severe RI, respectively). Treatment was modified at the end of the study-visit in 34% of CKD patients, primarily to stop or reduce metformin. However, metformin was stopped in only 40% of the severe RI patients.
Despite a fairly good detection of CKD in patients with T2DM, RI was insufficiently taken into account for adjusting anti-diabetic treatment.
PMCID: PMC4063863  PMID: 24966684
therapeutic management; metformin; sulfonylureas; renal disease; type 2 diabetes
7.  Vascular quality of care pilot study: how admission to a vascular surgery service affects evidence-based pharmacologic risk factor modification in patients with lower extremity peripheral arterial disease 
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) guidelines recommend aggressive risk factor modification to improve cardiovascular outcomes. Recommended pharmacologic therapies include antiplatelets, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and HMG-CoA-reductase inhibitors (statins).
We studied the degree to which patient admission to a vascular surgery service increased the use of these therapies.
Patients and methods
The authors conducted a retrospective chart review of 150 patients with PAD admitted to the vascular surgery service at a large Canadian tertiary care hospital. The use of recommended pharmacologic therapies at the time of admission and discharge were compared. A multidisciplinary clinical team established criteria by which patients were deemed ineligible to receive any of the recommended therapies. Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) were considered an alternative to ACE inhibitors.
Prior to hospital admission, 64% of patients were on antiplatelet therapy, 67% were on an ACE inhibitor or ARB, and 71% were on a statin. At the time of discharge, 91% of patients were on an antiplatelet (or not, with an acceptable reason), 77% were on an ACE inhibitor or an ARB (or not, with an acceptable reason), and 85% were on a statin (or not, with an acceptable reason). While new prescriptions were largely responsible for improved guideline adherence with antiplatelets and statins, most of the apparent improvement in ACE inhibitor and ARB use was the result of identifying an acceptable reason for not having them prescribed.
This hypothesis generating pilot study supports the findings of others that there is suboptimal prescription of pharmacologic risk reduction therapies in the PAD population. Admission to a vascular service increases these rates. Nevertheless, some patients are still not receiving evidence-based treatment at discharge even after consideration of acceptable reasons. Strategies are needed to improve PAD guideline adherence in both the community at large and the vascular surgery service.
PMCID: PMC4051795  PMID: 24940068
guideline adherence; vascular protection; risk reduction
8.  A double-blind, randomized trial, including frequent patient–physician contacts and Ramadan-focused advice, assessing vildagliptin and gliclazide in patients with type 2 diabetes fasting during Ramadan: the STEADFAST study 
Several observational studies were conducted with vildagliptin in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) fasting during Ramadan, showing significantly lower incidences of hypoglycemia with vildagliptin versus sulfonylureas, including gliclazide. It was of interest to complement the existing real-life evidence with data from a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial.
Clinical Trials Identifier
This multiregional, double-blind study randomized 557 patients with T2DM (mean glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c], 6.9%), previously treated with metformin and any sulfonylurea to receive either vildagliptin (50 mg twice daily) or gliclazide plus metformin. The study included four office visits (three pre-Ramadan) and multiple telephone contacts, as well as Ramadan-focused advice. Hypoglycemic events were assessed during Ramadan; HbA1c and weight were analyzed before and after Ramadan.
The proportion of patients reporting confirmed (<3.9 mmol/L and/or severe) hypoglycemic events during Ramadan was 3.0% with vildagliptin and 7.0% with gliclazide (P=0.039; one-sided test), and this was 6.0% and 8.7%, respectively, for any hypoglycemic events (P=0.173). The adjusted mean change pre- to post-Ramadan in HbA1c was 0.05%±0.04% with vildagliptin and −0.03%±0.04% with gliclazide, from baselines of 6.84% and 6.79%, respectively (P=0.165). In both groups, the adjusted mean decrease in weight was −1.1±0.2 kg (P=0.987). Overall safety was similar between the treatments.
In line with the results from previous observational studies, vildagliptin was shown in this interventional study to be an effective, safe, and well-tolerated treatment in patients with T2DM fasting during Ramadan, with a consistently low incidence of hypoglycemia across studies, accompanied by good glycemic and weight control. In contrast, gliclazide showed a lower incidence of hypoglycemia in the present interventional than the previous observational studies. This is suggested to be linked to the specific circumstances of this study, including frequent patient–physician contacts, Ramadan-focused advice, a recent switch in treatment, and very well-controlled patients, which is different from what is often seen in real life.
PMCID: PMC4045264  PMID: 24920915
dipeptidyl peptidase 4; fasting; incretin; type 2 diabetes mellitus; hypoglycemia; Ramadan
9.  Validation of the custo screen 400 ambulatory blood pressure-monitoring device according to the European Society of Hypertension International Protocol revision 2010 
The aim of the present study was to validate the custo screen 400 ambulatory blood pressure-monitoring (ABPM) device according to the 2010 International Protocol revision of the European Society of Hypertension (ESH-IP). The device can be used for ABPM for up to 72 hours.
Materials and methods
Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP, respectively) were sequentially measured in 33 adult subjects (13 males and 20 females) and compared with a standard mercury sphygmomanometer (two observers). A total of 99 comparison pairs were obtained.
The custo screen 400 met the requirements of parts 1 and 2 of the ESH-IP revision 2010. The mean difference between the device and reference sphygmomanometer readings was −0.5±4.5 mmHg for SBP and −0.1±3.3 mmHg for DBP. All but one measurement were within the absolute difference of 10 mmHg between the device and the observers for SBP and DBP. The number of absolute differences between the device and the observers within a range of 5 mmHg was 84 of 99 readings for SBP, and 93 of 99 readings for DBP.
The custo screen 400 ABPM device met the requirements of the 2010 ESH-IP revision, and hence can be recommended for ABPM in adults. To our knowledge, the custo screen 400 is the first device to pass the revised ESH-IP 2010.
PMCID: PMC4027883  PMID: 24868162
validation; ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; ESH
10.  Blood and urine levels of heavy metal pollutants in female and male patients with coronary artery disease 
Heavy metal pollutants such as cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), and mercury (Hg) are rarely the subjects of cardiovascular research although they have been suspected for decades to negatively impact the circulatory system.
Apart from detailed anamnestic data, urinary levels of Cd and full blood levels of Pb and Hg were measured in 53 female (mean age: 68.04±7.03 years) and 111 male (mean age: 60.68±11.43 years) nonsmoking or never-smoking patients with angiographically verified and precisely quantified coronary artery disease (CAD).
Although Cd was quantifiable in 68.3% of subjects, only 34.1% of these patients exceeded the critical 1 μg/L Human Biomonitoring (HBM)-I level. Median Pb (20 μg/L) and Hg (0.55 μg/L) levels were lower than the HBM-I, as well as reference levels of Pb. Wine consumption was the main source for Pb, fish and wine consumption for Hg, and previous nicotine abuse for Cd. There was no correlation between Cd, Pb, or Hg and severity of CAD although severity correlated positively with atherosclerosis parameters (uric acid, creatinine, triglycerides, blood urea nitrogen, C-reactive protein) and negatively with high density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Cd levels detected in CAD patients were high compared to German and European reference levels but it could not be proven that urine levels of Cd and blood levels of Hg or Pb played a major role in the genesis of CAD, particularly when compared to well-known biomarkers such as blood pressure, glucose, and lipids.
PMCID: PMC4027918  PMID: 24868163
cadmium; plumbum; mercury; coronary artery disease; pollutants
11.  Rivaroxaban in patients with a recent acute coronary syndrome event: integration of trial findings into clinical practice 
Despite significant advances in the management of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and long-term antiplatelet therapy after an ACS event, patients continue to be at risk of further cardiovascular events. There is evidence that recurrent events are at least partly attributed to the persistent activation of the coagulation system after ACS. Various anticoagulants, including vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) and non-VKA oral anticoagulants, have been evaluated in patients post-ACS, in combination with antiplatelet therapy. The desired outcome would be a further reduction of recurrent cardiovascular events with low or acceptable levels of bleeding complications. Here, we provide an overview of the current clinical trial data of non-VKA oral anticoagulants, focusing on rivaroxaban in particular, for secondary prevention in patients with a recent ACS event.
PMCID: PMC4027919  PMID: 24868164
acute coronary syndrome; anticoagulants; antiplatelet therapy
12.  Effects of extended-release niacin/laropiprant, simvastatin, and the combination on correlations between apolipoprotein B, LDL cholesterol, and non-HDL cholesterol in patients with dyslipidemia 
Statins modify correlations between apolipoprotein B (apoB) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and apoB and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C); however, it is not known whether niacin-based therapies have similar effects.
To evaluate the effects of extended-release niacin (ERN)/laropiprant (LRPT), simvastatin (SIMVA), and ERN/LRPT + SIMVA (pooled ERN/LRPT + SIMVA) on apoB:LDL-C and apoB:non-HDL-C correlations in dyslipidemic patients.
This post-hoc analysis of a 12-week study evaluated the apoB:LDL-C and apoB:non-HDL-C correlations in dyslipidemic patients randomized equally to double-blind ERN/LRPT 1 g/20 mg, SIMVA 10, 20, or 40 mg, or ERN/LRPT 1 g/20 mg + SIMVA (10, 20, or 40 mg) once daily for 4 weeks. At week 5, doses were doubled in all groups except SIMVA 40 mg (unchanged) and ERN/LRPT 1 g/20 mg + SIMVA 40 mg (switched to ERN/LRPT 2 g/40 mg + SIMVA 40 mg). Simple linear regression analyses were used to calculate LDL-C and non-HDL-C levels corresponding to known apoB baseline values (ie, in untreated patients) and following treatment.
The apoB:LDL-C and apoB:non-HDL-C correlations were higher and the predicted LDL-C and non-HDL-C levels for a known apoB value were considerably lower following treatment with ERN/LRPT, SIMVA and ERN/LRPT + SIMVA compared with untreated patients at baseline.
Greater dissociation of apoB, LDL-C, and non-HDL-C targets occur following treatment with ERN/LRPT, SIMVA, and ERN/LRPT + SIMVA in patients with dyslipidemia. The achievement of more aggressive LDL-C and non-HDL-C goals in patients receiving lipid-modifying therapy may further reduce coronary risk by normalizing apoB-containing atherogenic lipoproteins.
PMCID: PMC4019613  PMID: 24855368
apoB; LDL-C; non-HDL-C
13.  Factors influencing dyslipidemia in statin-treated patients in Lebanon and Jordan: results of the Dyslipidemia International Study 
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Therefore, as part of the Dyslipidemia International Study (DYSIS), we have analyzed the prevalence of lipid abnormalities and risk factors for dyslipidemia in statin-treated patients in Lebanon and Jordan.
This cross-sectional, multicenter study enrolled 617 patients at 13 hospitals in Lebanon and Jordan. Patients were at least 45 years old and had been treated with statins for at least 3 months. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine patient characteristics contributing to dyslipidemia during statin therapy.
Our findings indicated that 55.9% of statin-treated patients (mean age 60.3 years, 47% female) in Lebanon and Jordan did not achieve goal levels for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol which were dependent on Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) risk, and 70% of patients (76% men and 63.3% of women) were at very high cardiovascular risk. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol goals were not achieved in 67.2% of those with very high cardiovascular risk. The most commonly prescribed statin was atorvastatin (44.6%), followed by simvastatin (27.7%), rosuvastatin (21.2%), fluvastatin (3.3%), pravastatin (3%), and lovastatin (0.2%). Approximately half of the population was treated with a statin dose potency of 4, equaling 40 mg of simvastatin. In Lebanon and Jordan, the strongest independent associations with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol not at goal were current smoking (odds ratio [OR] 1.96; 95% confidence [CI] 1.25–3.08), diabetes mellitus (OR 2.53; 95% CI 1.70–3.77), and ischemic heart disease (OR 2.26; 95% CI 1.45–3.53), while alcohol consumption was associated with reduced risk (OR 0.12; 95% CI 0.03–0.57).
We observed that many patients in Lebanon and Jordan experienced persistent dyslipidemia during statin treatment, supporting the notion that novel lipid-lowering strategies need to be developed. Also, social programs aimed at combating the extremely high rates of tobacco use and obesity in Lebanon and Jordan are critical for combating cardiovascular disease in these countries.
PMCID: PMC4025935  PMID: 24872710
cardiovascular disease; lipid abnormalities; statins; low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
14.  Influence of serological factors and BMI on the blood pressure/hematocrit association in healthy young men and women 
The association between mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) and hematocrit (Hct) as a surrogate for blood viscosity was investigated in a young (average 20.0±2.3 years), healthy population of 174 men and 442 women. Health status was assessed by clinical examination and serological evaluation. Individuals with severe anemia or hemoconcentration, prior traumas or major surgical intervention, smokers, and pregnant or lactating women were excluded from the study. The MAP/Hct association was positive and significant (P=0.04) for women and negative, albeit not significantly so, for men. The MAP/Hct association was also evaluated in subgroups of the same population with a progressive step-by-step exclusion of: individuals with cholesterol >200 mg/dL; triglycerides >200 mg/dL; body mass index >25 kg/m2; and glucose >100 mg/dL. This consecutively reduced the strength of the positive MAP/Hct association in women, which became negative – although not significantly so – when all anomalously high factors were excluded. The same trend was found in men. Our study indicates that previously reported positive trends in the relationship between the MAP and Hct in the population are not present in a young, healthy population of men or women that excludes individuals with the confounding factors of above normal serological values and BMI.
PMCID: PMC4018417  PMID: 24851053
blood pressure; blood viscosity; hematocrit; vascular resistance; endothelial dysfunction
15.  Inhibition of hepatic microsomal triglyceride transfer protein – a novel therapeutic option for treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia 
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-receptor gene (LDLR). Patients with homozygous FH (hoFH) have inherited a mutated LDLR gene from both parents, and therefore all their LDL-receptors are incapable of functioning normally. In hoFH, serum LDL levels often exceed 13 mmol/L and tendon and cutaneous xanthomata appear early (under 10 years of age). If untreated, this extremely severe form of hypercholesterolemia may cause death in childhood or in early adulthood. Based on recent data, it can be estimated that the prevalence of hoFH is about 1:500,000 or even 1:400,000. Until now, the treatment of hoFH has been based on high-dose statin treatment combined with LDL apheresis. Since the LDL cholesterol-lowering effect of statins is weak in this disease, and apheresis is a cumbersome treatment and not available at all centers, alternative novel pharmaceutical therapies are needed. Lomitapide is a newly introduced drug, capable of effectively decreasing serum LDL cholesterol concentration in hoFH. It inhibits the microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTTP). By inhibiting in hepatocytes the transfer of triglycerides into very low density lipoprotein particles, the drug blocks their assembly and secretion into the circulating blood. Since the very low density lipoprotein particles are precursors of LDL particles in the circulation, the reduced secretion of the former results in lower plasma concentration of the latter. The greatest concern in lomitapide treatment has been the increase in liver fat, which can be, however, counteracted by strictly adhering to a low-fat diet. Lomitapide is a welcome addition to the meager selection of drugs currently available for the treatment of refractory hypercholesterolemia in hoFH patients.
PMCID: PMC4018418  PMID: 24851052
microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitor; familial hypercholesterolemia; LDL-cholesterol; metabolism; lomitapide
16.  Serum uric acid and target organ damage in essential hypertension 
Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular mortality, as it acts through its effects on target organs, such as the heart and kidneys. Hyperuricemia increases cardiovascular risk in patients with hypertension.
To assess the relationship between serum uric acid and target organ damage (left ventricular hypertrophy and microalbuminuria) in untreated patients with essential hypertension.
Patients and methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in 130 (85 females, 45 males) newly diagnosed, untreated patients with essential hypertension. Sixty-five healthy age- and sex-matched non-hypertensive individuals served as controls for comparison. Left ventricular hypertrophy was evaluated by cardiac ultrasound scan, and microalbuminuria was assessed in an early morning midstream urine sample by immunoturbidimetry. Blood samples were collected for assessing uric acid levels.
Mean serum uric acid was significantly higher among the patients with hypertension (379.7±109.2 μmol/L) than in the controls (296.9±89.8 μmol/L; P<0.001), and the prevalence of hyperuricemia was 46.9% among the hypertensive patients and 16.9% among the controls (P<0.001). Among the hypertensive patients, microalbuminuria was present in 54.1% of those with hyperuricemia and in 24.6% of those with normal uric acid levels (P=0.001). Similarly, left ventricular hypertrophy was more common in the hypertensive patients with hyperuricemia (70.5% versus 42.0%, respectively; P=0.001). There was a significant linear relationship between mean uric acid levels and the number of target organ damage (none versus one versus two: P=0.012).
These results indicate that serum uric acid is associated with target organ damage in patients with hypertension, even at the time of diagnosis; thus, it is a reliable marker of cardiovascular damage in our patient population.
PMCID: PMC4014451  PMID: 24833906
essential hypertension; serum uric acid; left ventricular hypertrophy; microalbuminuria
17.  The 24-hour pulse wave velocity, aortic augmentation index, and central blood pressure in normotensive volunteers 
The purpose of this study was to examine the pulse wave velocity, aortic augmentation index corrected for heart rate 75 (AIx@75), and central systolic and diastolic blood pressure during 24-hour monitoring in normotensive volunteers. Overall, 467 subjects (206 men and 261 women) were recruited in this study. Participants were excluded from the study if they were less than 19 years of age, had blood test abnormalities, had a body mass index greater than 2 7.5 kg/m2, had impaired glucose tolerance, or had hypotension or hypertension. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) with the BPLab® device was performed in each subject. ABPM waveforms were analyzed using the special automatic Vasotens® algorithm, which allows the calculation of pulse wave velocity, AIx@75, central systolic and diastolic blood pressure for “24-hour”, “awake”, and “asleep” periods. Circadian rhythms and sex differences in these indexes were identified. Pending further validation in prospective outcome-based studies, our data may be used as preliminary diagnostic values for the BPLab ABPM additional index in adult subjects.
PMCID: PMC4011902  PMID: 24812515
ambulatory; monitoring; arterial stiffness; augmentation index; central blood pressure; reference values
18.  Limitations of real-world treatment with atorvastatin monotherapy for lowering LDL-C in high-risk cardiovascular patients in the US 
Guidelines endorse statin therapy for lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) to recommended levels, in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, if needed, after lifestyle changes. Atorvastatin is a common statin with greater LDL-C lowering efficacy than most other statins; its availability in generic form will likely increase its use. This study assessed attainment of guideline-recommended LDL-C levels in high-risk CVD patients treated with atorvastatin monotherapy.
Analyses of two retrospective US cohorts of patients who received a prescription for atorvastatin monotherapy between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2010 (index date defined as first prescription date) in the GE Centricity Electronic Medical Record (EMR) (N=10,693) and Humana Medicare (N=16,798) databases. Eligible patients were ≥18 years, diagnosed with coronary heart disease or atherosclerotic vascular disease, with ≥1 LDL-C measurement between 3 months and 1 year postindex date, and continuously enrolled for 1 year prior to and following the index date.
Of the eligible patients, 21.8%, 29.6%, 29.9%, and 18.7% (GE Centricity EMR) and 25.4%, 32.9%, 27.8%, and 14.0% (Humana Medicare) received 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg doses of atorvastatin, respectively. The mean ± standard deviation (SD) follow-up LDL-C levels were 2.1±0.8 mmol/L (83±30 mg/dL) and 2.3±0.8 mmol/L (88±31 mg/dL) for the GE Centricity EMR and Humana Medicare cohorts, respectively. Regardless of dose, only 28.3%–34.8% of patients had LDL-C levels <1.8 mmol/L (<70 mg/dL), and 72.0%–78.0% achieved LDL-C <2.6 mmol/L (<100 mg/dL) in both cohorts. As many as 41% and 13% of patients had LDL-C levels ≥0.5 mmol/L (≥20 mg/dL) above LDL-C 1.8 mmol/L (70 mg/dL) and 2.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dL), respectively, in both cohorts; these percentages were generally similar across atorvastatin doses.
In this real-world US setting, a large number of high-risk CVD patients did not attain guideline-recommended LDL-C levels with atorvastatin monotherapy. More than 65% of the patients had LDL-C levels >1.8 mmol/L (>70 mg/dL), and of these, 30%–40% had LDL-C levels ≥0.5 mmol/L (≥20 mg/dL) above this, regardless of dose. This suggests that more effective lipid-lowering strategies, such as statin uptitration, switching to a higher efficacy statin, and/or combination therapy, may be required to achieve optimal LDL-C lowering in high-risk patients.
PMCID: PMC4008284  PMID: 24851051
statin therapy; managed-care; lipid-lowering therapy
19.  Telemonitoring: use in the management of hypertension 
Hypertension is a major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular, retinal, and kidney disease. In the past decade, attainment rates of treatment targets for blood pressure control in the UK and US have increased; however, <11% of adult men and women have achieved adequate blood pressure control. Technological advances in blood pressure measurement and data transmission may improve the capture of information but also alter the relationship between the patient and the provider of care. Telemonitoring systems can be used to manage patients with hypertension, and have the ability to enable best-practice decisions more consistently. The improvement in choice for patients as to where and who manages their hypertension, as well as better adherence to treatment, are potential benefits. An evidence base is growing that shows that telemonitoring can be more effective than usual care in improving attainment rates of goal blood pressure in the short-to-medium term. In addition, studies are in progress to assess whether this technology could be a part of the solution to address the health care needs of an aging population and improve access for those suffering health inequalities. The variation in methods and systems used in these studies make generalizability to the general hypertension population difficult. Concerns over the reliability of technology, impact on patient quality of life, longer-term utility and cost–benefit analyses all need to be investigated further if wider adoption is to occur.
PMCID: PMC3986416  PMID: 24748801
telehealth; health surveillance; virtual-led clinic
20.  Current guidelines for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in therapy and future directions 
Many studies have suggested that a significant risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Therefore, increasing HDL-C with therapeutic agents has been considered an attractive strategy. In the prestatin era, fibrates and niacin monotherapy, which cause modest increases in HDL-C, reduced ASCVD events. Since their introduction, statins have become the cornerstone of lipoprotein therapy, the benefits of which are primarily attributed to decrease in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Findings from several randomized trials involving niacin or cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors have challenged the concept that a quantitative elevation of plasma HDL-C will uniformly translate into ASCVD benefits. Consequently, the HDL, or more correctly, HDL-C hypothesis has become more controversial. There are no clear guidelines thus far for targeting HDL-C or HDL due to lack of solid outcomes data for HDL specific therapies. HDL-C levels are only one marker of HDL out of its several structural or functional properties. Novel approaches are ongoing in developing and assessing agents that closely mimic the structure of natural HDL or replicate its various functions, for example, reverse cholesterol transport, vasodilation, anti-inflammation, or inhibition of platelet aggregation. Potential new approaches like HDL infusions, delipidated HDL, liver X receptor agonists, Apo A-I upregulators, Apo A mimetics, and gene therapy are in early phase trials. This review will outline current therapies and describe future directions for HDL therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3986285  PMID: 24748800
high-density lipoprotein; lipids; cholesterol; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease; therapy
21.  Stroke and diabetic ketoacidosis – some diagnostic and therapeutic considerations 
Cerebrovascular insult (CVI) is a known and important risk factor for the development of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA); still, it seems that the prevalence of DKA among the patients suffering CVI and its influence on stroke outcome might be underestimated. Diabetic ketoacidosis itself has been reported to be a risk factor for the occurrence of stroke in children and youth. A cerebral hypoperfusion in untreated DKA may lead to cerebral injury, arterial ischemic stroke, cerebral venous thrombosis, and hemorrhagic stroke. All these were noted following DKA episodes in children. At least some of these mechanisms may be operative in adults and complicate the course and outcome of CVI. There is a considerable overlap of symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings in the two conditions, making their interpretation difficult, particularly in the elderly and less communicative patients. Serum pH and bicarbonate, blood gases, and anion gap levels should be routinely measured in all type 1 and type 2 diabetics, regardless of symptomatology, for the early detection of existing or pending ketoacidosis. The capacity for rehydration in patients with stroke is limited, and the treatment of the cerebrovascular disease requires intensive use of osmotic and loop diuretics. Fluid repletion may be difficult, and the precise management algorithms are required. Intravenous insulin is the backbone of treatment, although its effect may be diminished due to delayed fluid replenishment. Therefore, the clinical course of diabetic ketoacidosis in patients with CVI may be prolonged and complicated.
PMCID: PMC3986295  PMID: 24748799
CVI; type 2 diabetes complications; acid-base disturbances; fluid management
22.  Comparative review of the blood pressure-lowering and cardiovascular benefits of telmisartan and perindopril 
Hypertension is a major cardiovascular (CV) risk factor, and blood pressure (BP)-lowering treatment substantially reduces the risk. This review compares the available clinical evidence from the BP-lowering and CV-outcome studies of telmisartan and perindopril, which are among the most intensively studied members of their respective classes. The PubMed database was searched for telmisartan and perindopril publications meeting the following criteria: 1) head-to-head comparison trials for BP lowering; and 2) CV-outcome studies (ie, ones with a CV event, mortality, or hospitalization outcome) in patients with CV risk factors but without heart failure. In comparative trials, telmisartan treatment resulted in significantly higher reduction in trough BP and mean ambulatory diastolic BP for the last 8 hours of the dosing interval compared with perindopril. In mainly placebo-controlled CV-outcome studies in patients with hypertension, CV benefits with perindopril were associated with large reductions in BP. There were no CV outcome studies with telmisartan in patients with hypertension. The beyond-BP-lowering CV-protective benefits of telmisartan were demonstrated in the active-controlled ONTARGET (ONgoing Telmisartan Alone and in combination with Ramipril Global Endpoint Trial) trial, which included patients with controlled BP at baseline. In general, the trials discussed in this review reinforce the fact that perindopril and telmisartan are two long-acting antihypertensive drugs that reduce BP over 24 hours, and are the best-evidenced drugs in their class with proven CV protection. It is also clear that the benefits are not a “class effect”, and vary between the different drugs within each class. Hence, the best approach for treatments tailored to individual patient needs should be evidence-based specific drugs, rather than a drug-class recommendation for achieving therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC3983078  PMID: 24741317
hypertension; antihypertensive therapy; clinical outcome; renin–angiotensin system inhibitors; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor; angiotensin-receptor blocker
23.  Neurogenic orthostatic hypotension in Parkinson’s disease: evaluation, management, and emerging role of droxidopa 
Neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH) is due to failure of the autonomic nervous system to regulate blood pressure in response to postural changes due to an inadequate release of norepinephrine, leading to orthostatic hypotension and supine hypertension. nOH is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Prevalence varies throughout the course of PD, ranging from 40% to 60%, and resulting in symptomatic nOH in approximately half. Symptomatic nOH, including lightheadedness, can limit daily activities and lead to falls. Symptomatic nOH can also limit therapeutic options for treating PD motor symptoms. Clinical evaluation should routinely include symptom assessment and blood pressure measurement of supine, sitting, and 3-minute standing; 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring can also be helpful. Non-pharmacological management of symptomatic nOH involves education, physical maneuvers, and adequate hydration. Current pharmacological treatment of symptomatic nOH includes salt supplement, fludrocortisone, midodrine, pyridostigmine, and other empiric medications. Despite these options, treatment of symptomatic nOH remains suboptimal, often limited by severe increases in supine blood pressure. Droxidopa, an oral prodrug converted by decarboxylation to norepinephrine, is a promising therapeutic option for symptomatic nOH in PD, improving symptoms of nOH, daily activities, falls, and standing systolic blood pressure in several recent trials. These trials demonstrated short-term efficacy and tolerability, with comparable increases in standing and supine blood pressures. Longer-term studies are ongoing to confirm durability of treatment effect.
PMCID: PMC3979788  PMID: 24729712
(pre)syncope; norepinephrine; autonomic; lightheadedness; treatment; falls
24.  Unmet needs in the management of acute myocardial infarction: role of novel protease-activated receptor-1 antagonist vorapaxar 
Platelet activation with subsequent aggregation is a complex process leading to thrombus formation, which remains a key component for atherothrombotic manifestations, in particular myocardial infarction. Therefore, antiplatelet therapies are pivotal for the treatment of these patients. Current oral antiplatelet therapies used for secondary prevention of ischemic recurrences include aspirin and adenosine diphosphate P2Y12 platelet-receptor antagonists. However, despite these therapies, patients who have experienced a myocardial infarction remain at risk for ischemic recurrences. Therefore, more aggressive secondary prevention measures have been an area of research, including identifying additional targets modulating platelet-activation and -aggregation processes. Among these, thrombin-mediated platelet activation via protease-activated receptors (PARs) has been subject to extensive clinical investigation. Several PAR-1 receptor antagonists have been developed. However, vorapaxar is the only one that has completed large-scale clinical investigation. The present manuscript will provide an overview on the role of thrombin-mediated signaling, the impact of PAR-1 blockade with vorapaxar on ischemic and bleeding outcomes, and the potential role for vorapaxar in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3979798  PMID: 24729713
platelet aggregation; antiplatelet agent; protease-activated receptor 1; vorapaxar
25.  Benefit–risk assessment of rivaroxaban versus enoxaparin for the prevention of venous thromboembolism after total hip or knee arthroplasty 
Venous thromboembolism is a common complication after major orthopedic surgery. When prescribing anticoagulant prophylaxis, clinicians weigh the benefits of thromboprophylaxis against bleeding risk and other adverse events. Previous benefit–risk analyses of the REgulation of Coagulation in ORthopaedic surgery to prevent Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (RECORD) randomized clinical studies of rivaroxaban versus enoxaparin after total hip (THA) or knee (TKA) arthroplasty generally used pooled THA and TKA results, counted fatal bleeding as both an efficacy and a safety event, and included the active and placebo-controlled portions of RECORD2, which might confound benefit–risk assessments. We conducted a post hoc analysis without these constraints to assess benefit–risk for rivaroxaban versus enoxaparin in the RECORD studies.
Patients and methods
Data from the safety population of the two THA and two TKA studies were pooled separately. The primary analysis compared the temporal course of event rates and rate differences between rivaroxaban and enoxaparin prophylaxis for symptomatic venous thromboembolism plus all-cause mortality (efficacy events) versus nonfatal major bleeding (safety events). Additionally, these rates were used to derive measures of net clinical benefit, number needed to treat (NNT), and number needed to harm (NNH) for these two end points.
After THA or TKA, and compared with enoxaparin, rivaroxaban therapy resulted in more efficacy events prevented than safety events caused, with benefits exceeding harms early and throughout treatment and follow-up. Relative to enoxaparin, rivaroxaban treatment prevented six efficacy events per harm event caused for THA, with NNT =262/NNH =1,711. For TKA, rivaroxaban treatment prevented four to five efficacy events per harm event caused, with NNT =102/NNH =442. Sensitivity analysis that included surgical-site bleeding resulted in NNH =345 for THA and NNH =208 for TKA.
In the RECORD studies, considering death, symptomatic venous thromboembolism, and major bleeding, rivaroxaban resulted in greater benefits than harms compared with enoxaparin. When incorporating surgical-site bleeding, rivaroxaban also results in greater benefit than harm for TKA and is balanced with enoxaparin for THA.
PMCID: PMC3971939  PMID: 24707185
VTE; DVT; PE; thromboprophylaxis; total hip arthroplasty; total knee arthroplasty

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