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1.  Vagus nerve stimulation improves left ventricular function in a canine model of chronic heart failure 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(12):1319-1326.
Autonomic dysfunction is a feature of chronic heart failure (HF). This study tested the hypothesis that chronic open-loop electrical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) improves LV structure and function in canines with chronic HF.
Methods and results
Twenty-six canines with HF (EF ∼35%) produced by intracoronary microembolizations were implanted with a bipolar cuff electrode around the right cervical vagus nerve and connected to an implantable pulse generator. The canines were enrolled in Control (n = 7) vs. VNS therapy (n = 7) or a crossover study, with crossovers occurring at 3 months (C × VNS, n = 6; VNS × C, n = 6). After 6 months of VNS, LVEF and LV end-systolic volume (ESV) were significantly improved compared with Control (ΔEF Control –4.6 ± 0.9% vs. VNS 6.0 ± 1.6%, P < 0.001) and (ΔESV Control 8.3 ± 1.8 mL vs. VNS –3.0 ± 2.3 mL, P = 0.002. Plasma and tissue biomarkers were also improved. In the crossover study, VNS also resulted in a significant improvement in EF and ESV compared with Control (ΔEF Control –2.3 ± 0.65% vs. VNS 6.7 ± 1.1 mL, P < 0.001 and ΔESV Control 3.2 ± 1.2 mL vs. VNS –4.0 ± 0.9 mL, P < 0.001). Initiation of therapy in the Control group at 3 months resulted in a significant improvement in EF (Control –4.7 ± 1.4% vs. VNS 3.7 ± 0.74%, P < 0.001) and ESV (Control 1.5 ± 1.2 mL vs. NS –5.5 ± 1.6 mL, P = 0.003) by 6 months.
In canines with HF, long-term, open-looped low levels of VNS therapy improves LV systolic function, prevents progressive LV enlargement, and improves biomarkers of HF when compared with control animals that did not receive therapy.
PMCID: PMC3895958  PMID: 23883651
Vagal; Autonomic nervous system; Parasympathetic; Neurostimulation; Heart failure
2.  Haemoconcentration, renal function, and post-discharge outcomes among patients hospitalized for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: insights from the EVEREST trial 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(12):1401-1411.
Haemoconcentration has been studied as a marker of decongestion in patients with hospitalization for heart failure (HHF). We describe the relationship between haemoconcentration, worsening renal function, post-discharge outcomes, and clinical and laboratory markers of congestion in a large multinational cohort of patients with HHF.
Methods and results
In 1684 patients with HHF with ejection fraction (EF) ≤40% assigned to the placebo arm of the Efficacy of Vasopressin Antagonism in Heart Failure Outcome Study with Tolvaptan (EVEREST) trial, absolute in-hospital haematocrit change was calculated as the change between baseline and discharge or day 7 (whichever occurred first). Patient characteristics, changes in renal function, and outcomes over a median follow-up of 9.9 months were compared by in-hospital haematocrit change. Overall, 26% of patients had evidence of haemoconcentration (i.e. ≥3% absolute increase in haematocrit). Patients with greater increases in haematocrit tended to have better baseline renal function. Haemoconcentration correlated with greater risk of in-hospital worsening renal function, but renal parameters generally returned to baseline within 4 weeks post-discharge. Patients with haemoconcentration were less likely to have clinical congestion at discharge, and experienced greater in-hospital decreases in body weight and natriuretic peptide levels. After adjustment for baseline clinical risk factors, every 5% increase of in-hospital haematocrit change was associated with a decreased risk of all-cause death [hazard ratio (HR) 0.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70–0.95]. Haematocrit change was also associated with decreased cardiovascular mortality or heart failure (HF) hospitalization at ≤100 days post-randomization (HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.71–0.76).
In this large cohort of patients with HHF with reduced EF, haemoconcentration was associated with greater improvements in congestion and decreased mortality and HF re-hospitalization despite an increased risk of in-hospital worsening renal function.
PMCID: PMC4199468  PMID: 23845795
Haemoconcentration; Haematocrit; Heart failure; Renal function; Outcomes; Congestion
3.  Anti-oxidative and cholesterol efflux capacities of high-density lipoprotein are reduced in ischaemic cardiomyopathy 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(11):1215-1219.
Various pathological changes lead to the development of heart failure (HF). HDL is dysfunctional in both acute coronary syndrome, as measured by the HDL inflammatory index (HII) assay, and stable coronary disease, as measured by cholesterol efflux capacity. We therefore hypothesized that these functions of HDL are also impaired in subjects with ischaemic cardiomyopathy.
Methods and results
A case–control study was performed on subjects in the University of Pennsylvania Catheterization Study (PennCath) cohort of patients with angina. Cases had EF <50% and angiographic CAD (≥70% stenosis of any vessel; n = 23); controls included those with EF ≥55% and no CAD (n = 46). Serum from subjects was apolipoprotein-B depleted to isolate an HDL fraction. To measure HDL anti-oxidative capacity, the HDL fraction was incubated with LDL and a reporter lipid that fluoresces when oxidized. To measure cholesterol efflux capacity, the HDL fraction was also incubated with macrophages and tritium-labelled cholesterol. Mean HII was higher and efflux capacity lower in subjects with ischaemic cardiomyopathy (HII 0.26 vs. –0.028; efflux 0.80 vs. 0.92; P < 0.05). In a multivariable logistic regression model, both high HII and low efflux capacity were significant risk factors for HF [HII odds ratio (OR) 2.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.0–3.9, P = 0.002; efflux OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.5–3.0, P = 0.03]. These effects persisted after adjustment for covariates and traditional risk factors for HF.
Subjects with reduced EF from ischaemia have lower HDL concentration and also impaired HDL function. HDL is a versatile lipoprotein particle with various anti-inflammatory and vasoprotective functions, whose impairment may contribute to ischaemic heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3888304  PMID: 23709232
Heart failure; Coronary artery disease; HDL cholesterol
4.  Clinicians' attitudes regarding withdrawal of left ventricular assist devices in patients approaching the end of life† 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(11):1262-1266.
Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are implanted to support the circulation of patients with advanced heart failure. Patients approaching death, or their surrogates, may request withdrawal of LVAD support. We sought to study the attitudes and practices of heart failure clinicians regarding withdrawal of LVAD support in patients approaching death.
Methods and results
Using internet-based and secure methods, we surveyed members of the European Society of Cardiology-Heart Failure Association (ESC-HFA), the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT), and the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) to assess their attitudes and practices regarding LVAD withdrawal for patients approaching death. The results indicated that clinicians have varied attitudes and practices regarding withdrawing LVAD support in these patients. Furthermore, ESC-HFA clinicians (primarily European) and ISHLT and HFSA clinicians (primarily North American) differed in their attitudes and practices regarding withdrawal of LVAD support, particularly its ethical and legal permissibility. For example, more European clinicians than North American clinicians regarded withdrawing LVAD support as a form of euthanasia.
Opinions and level of comfort with LVAD withdrawal vary among clinicians. Clinicians should be aware of suggested approaches or guidelines for managing requests for withdrawal of LVAD therapy.
PMCID: PMC4023318  PMID: 23744792
End of life; Mechanical circulatory support; Medical ethics; Palliative care; Ventricular assist device
5.  Risk assessment for incident heart failure in individuals with atrial fibrillation 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(8):843-849.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a strong risk factor for heart failure (HF); HF onset in patients with AF is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Risk factors that predict HF in individuals with AF in the community are not well established.
Methods and results
We examined clinical variables related to the 10-year incidence of HF in 725 individuals (mean 73.3 years, 45% women) with documented AF in the Framingham Heart Study. Event rates for incident HF (n = 161, 48% in women) were comparable in women (4.30 per 100 person-years) and men (3.34 per 100 person-years). Age, body mass index, ECG LV hypertrophy, diabetes, significant murmur, and history of myocardial infarction were positively associated with incident HF in multivariable models (C-statistic 0.71; 95% confidence interval 0.67–0.75). We developed a risk algorithm for estimating absolute risk of HF in AF patients with good model fit and calibration (adjusted calibration χ2 statistic 7.29; Pχ2 = 0.61). Applying the algorithm, 47.6% of HF events occurred in the top tertile in men compared with 13.1% in the bottom tertile, and 58.4% in women in the upper tertile compared with 18.2% in the lowest category. For HF type, women had a non-significantly higher incidence of HF with preserved EF compared with men.
We describe advancing age, LV hypertrophy, body mass index, diabetes, significant heart murmur, and history of myocardial infarction as clinical predictors of incident HF in individuals with AF. A risk algorithm may help identify individuals with AF at high risk of developing HF.
PMCID: PMC3858114  PMID: 23594831
Atrial fibrillation; Risk score; Epidemiology; Heart failure
6.  Targeting anti-beta-1-adrenergic receptor antibodies for dilated cardiomyopathy 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(7):724-729.
Anti-beta-1-adrenergic receptor antibodies (anti-β1AR Abs) have long been implicated in the pathogenesis of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is believed that these autoantibodies bind to and constitutively stimulate the β1AR to promote pathological cardiac remodelling and β1AR desensitization and downregulation. The prevalence of anti-β1AR Abs in patients with DCM ranges from 26% to 60%, and the presence of these autoantibodies correlates with a poor prognosis. Several small studies have shown improvements in functional status, haemodynamics, and biomarkers of heart failure upon removal or neutralization of these antibodies from the sera of affected patients. Traditionally, removal of anti-β1AR Abs required immunoadsorption therapy with apheresis columns directed against human immunoglobulins (Igs) and subsequent i.v. Ig infusion, thereby essentially performing a plasma exchange transfusion. However, recent advances have allowed the development of small peptides and nucleotide sequences that specifically target and neutralize anti-β1AR Abs, providing a hopeful avenue for future drug development to treat DCM. Herein, we briefly review the clinical literature of therapy directed against anti-β1AR Abs and highlight the opportunity for further research and development in this area.
PMCID: PMC3707431  PMID: 23639780
Cardiomyopathy; Antibodies; Beta-1-adrenergic receptors; Immunoglobulins; Immunoadsorption
7.  Association of physical activity and heart failure with preserved vs. reduced ejection fraction in the elderly: the Framingham Heart Study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(7):742-746.
Reduced physical activity is associated with increased risk of heart failure (HF) in middle-aged individuals. We hypothesized that physical inactivity is also associated with greater HF risk in older individuals, and examined if the association was consistent for HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF) vs. HF with a reduced ejection fraction (HFREF).
Methods and results
We evaluated 1142 elderly participants (mean age 76 years) from the Framingham Study without prior myocardial infarction and who attended a routine examination when daily physical activity was assessed systematically with a questionnaire. A composite score, the physical activity index (PAI), was calculated and modelled as tertiles, and related to incidence of HF, HFPEF, and HFREF on follow-up using proportional hazards regression models adjusting for age and sex, and then additionally for standard HF risk factors. Participants with HF and EF <45% vs. ≥45% were categorized as HFREF and HFPEF, respectively. On follow-up (mean 10 years), 250 participants developed HF (108 with HFPEF, 106 with HFREF, 36 with unavailable EF). In age- and sex-adjusted models, the middle and highest PAI tertiles were associated with a 15–56% lower risk of any HF, of HFREF, and of HFPEF, with a graded response across tertiles. In multivariable models, the association of higher PAI with lower risk of any HF and with HFPEF was maintained, whereas the association with HFREF was attenuated.
Our study of an older community-based sample extends to the elderly and to HFPEF previous findings of a protective effect of physical activity on HF risk.
PMCID: PMC3857918  PMID: 23435761
Physical activity; Heart failure; Elderly
8.  Cardiac output response to exercise in relation to metabolic demand in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(7):776-785.
Exercise intolerance is a hallmark of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), yet its mechanisms remain unclear. The current study sought to determine whether increases in cardiac output (CO) during exercise are appropriately matched to metabolic demands in HFpEF.
Methods and results
Patients with HFpEF (n = 109) and controls (n = 73) exercised to volitional fatigue with simultaneous invasive (n = 96) or non-invasive (n = 86) haemodynamic assessment and expired gas analysis to determine oxygen consumption (VO2) during upright or supine exercise. At rest, HFpEF patients had higher LV filling pressures but similar heart rate, stroke volume, EF, and CO. During supine and upright exercise, HFpEF patients displayed lower peak VO2 coupled with blunted increases in heart rate, stroke volume, EF, and CO compared with controls. LV filling pressures increased dramatically in HFpEF patients, with secondary elevation in pulmonary artery pressures. Reduced peak VO2 in HFpEF patients was predominantly attributable to CO limitation, as the slope of the increase in CO relative to VO2 was 20% lower in HFpEF patients (5.9 ± 2.5 vs. 7.4 ± 2.6 L blood/L O2, P = 0.0005). While absolute increases in arterial–venous O2 difference with exercise were similar in HFpEF patients and controls, augmentation in arterial–venous O2 difference relative to VO2 was greater in HFpEF patients (8.9 ± 3.4 vs. 5.5 ± 2.0 min/dL, P < 0.0001). These differences were observed in the total cohort and when upright and supine exercise modalities were examined individually.
While diastolic dysfunction promotes congestion and pulmonary hypertension with stress in HFpEF, reduction in exercise capacity is predominantly related to inadequate CO relative to metabolic needs.
PMCID: PMC3857919  PMID: 23426022
Diastolic heart failure; Exercise; Oxygen consumption; Cardiac output; Stroke volume; Heart rate
9.  Heart failure in elderly patients: distinctive features and unresolved issues 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(7):717-723.
The prevalence of heart failure (HF) increases with age. While clinical trials suggest that contemporary evidence-based HF therapies have reduced morbidity and mortality, these trials largely excluded the elderly. Questions remain regarding the clinical characteristics of elderly HF patients and the impact of contemporary therapies on their outcomes. This review presents the epidemiology of HF in the elderly and summarizes the data on the pathophysiology of the ageing heart. The clinical characteristics, treatment patterns, and outcomes of elderly HF patients are explored. Finally, the main gaps regarding HF therapies in the elderly and the opportunities for future trials are highlighted.
PMCID: PMC4176107  PMID: 23429975
Heart failure; Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction; Elderly; Outcomes; Therapy
10.  Primary proteasome inhibition results in cardiac dysfunction 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(6):614-623.
The proteasome prevents the intracellular accumulation of proteins and its impairment can lead to structural and functional alterations, as noted for the coronary vasculature in a previous study. Utilizing the same model, this study was designed to test the hypothesis that chronic proteasome inhibition (PSI) also leads to structural and functional changes of the heart.
Methods and results
Female domestic pigs were randomized to a normal diet without (N) or with twice-weekly subcutaneous injections of the proteasome inhibitor MLN-273 (0.08 mg/kg, N + PSI, n = 5 each group). In vivo data on cardiac structure and function as well as myocardial perfusion and microvascular permeability response to adenosine and dobutamine were obtained by electron beam computed tomography after 11 weeks. Subsequent ex vivo myocardial analyses included immunoblotting, immunostaining, TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling), Masson trichrome, and Congo red staining. Compared with N, an increase in LV mass was observed in N + PSI (106.5 ± 16.4 g vs. 183.1 ± 24.2 g, P < 0.05). The early to late diastolic filling ratio was increased in N + PSI vs. N (3.5 ± 0.6 vs. 1.8 ± 0.1, P < 0.05). The EF tended to be lower (46 ± 12% and 53 ± 9%, respectively) and cardiac output was significantly lower in N + PSI than in N (2.9 ± 1.1 vs. 4.7 ± 1.1 L/min, P < 0.05). Tissue analyses demonstrated an accumulation of proteasome substrates, apoptosis, and fibrosis in the PSI group. Compared with N, the myocardial perfusion response was reduced and microvascular permeability was increased in N + PSI.
The current study demonstrates that chronic proeasome inhibition affects the cardiovascular system, leading to functional and structural alteration of the heart consistent with a hypertrophic–restrictive cardiomyopathy phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3661018  PMID: 23616520
Cardiomyopathy; Heart failure; Proteasome
12.  Double dose vs. standard dose influenza vaccination in patients with heart failure: a pilot study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(5):560-564.
Influenza infection leads to increased morbidity and mortality in those with heart failure, and individuals with heart failure exhibit reduced antibody responses to influenza vaccine. We hypothesized that patients with heart failure randomized to double dose (DD) influenza vaccine will mount more vigorous humoral immune responses compared with those given standard dose (SD) vaccine.
Methods and results
We randomized 28 heart failure patients to DD (30 μg/strain) or SD (15 μg/strain) influenza vaccine. We assessed antibody production by haemagglutination inhibition assay (reported as log haemagglutination units) prior to, at 2–4 weeks and at 4–6 months following vaccination. Baseline antibody titres between DD (n = 12, mean age 64 ± 10 years) and SD (n = 16, mean age 63 ± 9 years) did not differ significantly. At 2–4 weeks, DD haemagglutination unit changes were significantly higher than those of SD (3.3 vs. 1.6 for A/H3N2, P < 0.001; 1.9 and 1.1 for A/H1N1, P = 0.009; and 1.7 and 1 for B-type, P = 0.02). At 4–6 weeks, there were no differences in titres in any of the virus types between treatment groups and, although titres decreased, levels remained above the seroprotective threshold.
Higher influenza vaccine doses may elicit increased antibody-mediated responses in patients with heart failure; further studies should assess whether clinical outcomes are improved with this strategy.
PMCID: PMC3631764  PMID: 23291729
Influenza vaccine; Heart failure; Immune system
13.  Effect of oral digoxin in high-risk heart failure patients: a pre-specified subgroup analysis of the DIG trial† 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2013;15(5):551-559.
In the Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial, digoxin reduced mortality or hospitalization due to heart failure (HF) in several pre-specified high-risk subgroups of HF patients, but data on protocol-specified 2-year outcomes were not presented. In the current study, we examined the effect of digoxin on HF death or HF hospitalization and all-cause death or all-cause hospitalization in high-risk subgroups during the protocol-specified 2 years of post-randomization follow-up.
Methods and results
In the DIG trial, 6800 ambulatory patients with chronic HF, normal sinus rhythm, and LVEF ≤45% (mean age 64 years, 26% women, 17% non-whites) were randomized to receive digoxin or placebo. The three high-risk groups were defined as NYHA class III–IV symptoms (n = 2223), LVEF <25% (n = 2256), and cardiothoracic ratio (CTR) >55% (n = 2345). In all three high-risk subgroups, compared with patients in the placebo group, those in the digoxin group had a significant reduction in the risk of the 2-year composite endpoint of HF mortality or HF hospitalization: NYHA III–IV [hazard ratio (HR) 0.65; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.57–0.75; P < 0.001], LVEF <25% (HR 0.61; 95% CI 0.53–0.71; P < 0.001), and CTR >55% (HR 0.65; 95% CI 0.57–0.75; P < 0.001). Digoxin-associated HRs (95% CI) for 2-year all-cause mortality or all-cause hospitalization for subgroups with NYHA III–IV, LVEF <25%, and CTR >55% were 0.88 (0.80–0.97; P = 0.012), 0.84 (0.76–0.93; P = 0.001), and 0.85 (0.77–0.94; P = 0.002), respectively.
Digoxin improves outcomes in chronic HF patients with NYHA class III–IV, LVEF <25%, or CTR >55%, and should be considered in these patients.
PMCID: PMC3707428  PMID: 23355060
Digoxin; Heart Failure; High risk; Morbidity; Mortality
14.  Predictors of early dyspnoea relief in acute heart failure and the association with 30-day outcomes: findings from ASCEND-HF 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(4):456-464.
To examine the characteristics associated with early dyspnoea relief during acute heart failure (HF) hospitalization, and its association with 30-day outcomes.
Methods and results
ASCEND-HF was a randomized trial of nesiritide vs. placebo in 7141 patients hospitalized with acute HF in which dyspnoea relief at 6 h was measured on a 7-point Likert scale. Patients were classified as having early dyspnoea relief if they experienced moderate or marked dyspnoea improvement at 6 h. We analysed the clinical characteristics, geographical variation, and outcomes (mortality, mortality/HF hospitalization, and mortality/hospitalization at 30 days) associated with early dyspnoea relief. Early dyspnoea relief occurred in 2984 patients (43%). In multivariable analyses, predictors of dyspnoea relief included older age and oedema on chest radiograph; higher systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, and natriuretic peptide level; and lower serum blood urea nitrogen (BUN), sodium, and haemoglobin (model mean C index = 0.590). Dyspnoea relief varied markedly across countries, with patients enrolled from Central Europe having the lowest risk-adjusted likelihood of improvement. Early dyspnoea relief was associated with lower risk-adjusted 30-day mortality/HF hospitalization [hazard ratio (HR) 0.81; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68–0.96] and mortality/hospitalization (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.74–0.99), but similar mortality.
Clinical characteristics such as respiratory rate, pulmonary oedema, renal function, and natriuretic peptide levels are associated with early dyspnoea relief, and moderate or marked improvement in dyspnoea was associated with a lower risk for 30-day outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3605752  PMID: 23159547
Acute heart failure; Dyspnoea relief; Prognosis; Outcomes
15.  Fatty acid-binding protein 4 and incident heart failure: the Cardiovascular Health Study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(4):394-399.
To examine the association of plasma fatty acid-binding protein 4 (FABP4) with incident heart failure.
Methods and results
In a prospective study of 4179 participants from the Cardiovascular Health Study, we measured plasma FABP4 on blood specimens collected between 1992 and 1993. Incident heart failure was adjudicated by an endpoint committee and we used a Cox proportional hazards model to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) of heart failure. The average age at baseline was 75 years. During a median follow-up of 10.7 years, 1182 cases of incident heart failure occurred. We observed a positive association between FABP4 and heart failure in the minimally adjusted models [HR 1.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.25–1.38 per 1 SD higher FABP4] that was attenuated upon adjustment for potential confounders, mostly kidney function and body mass index (corresponding HR 1.09, 95% CI 1.01–1.17). In a subsample of heart failure cases with available data on LV systolic function, FABP4 was not associated with heart failure with or without preserved LV systolic function. Exclusion of people with unintentional weight loss and self-reported fair/poor health status did not alter the conclusion.
An elevated plasma concentration of FABP4 was associated with a modestly higher risk of heart failure in older adults in the USA after adjustment for confounding factors.
PMCID: PMC3707430  PMID: 23223158
Epidemiology; Adiposity; Heart failure; Fatty acid-binding protein 4
16.  Plasma aldosterone levels are elevated in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension in the absence of left ventricular heart failure: a pilot study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(3):277-283.
Elevated levels of the mineralocorticoid hormone aldosterone are recognized as a modifiable contributor to the pathophysiology of select cardiovascular diseases due to left heart failure. In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), pulmonary vascular remodelling induces right ventricular dysfunction and heart failure in the absence of left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. Hyperaldosteronism has emerged as a promoter of pulmonary vascular disease in experimental animal models of PAH; however, the extent to which hyperaldosteronism is associated with PAH in patients is unknown. Thus, the central aim of the current study is to determine if hyperaldosteronism is an unrecognized component of the PAH clinical syndrome.
Methods and results
Plasma aldosterone levels and invasive cardiopulmonary haemodynamic measurements were obtained for 25 patients referred for evaluation of unexplained dyspnoea or pulmonary hypertension. Compared with controls (n = 5), patients with PAH (n = 18) demonstrated significantly increased plasma aldosterone levels (1200.4 ± 423.9 vs. 5959.1 ± 2817.9 pg/mL, P < 0.02), mean pulmonary artery pressure (21.4 ± 5.0 vs. 45.5 ± 10.4 mmHg, P < 0.002), and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) (1.41 ± 0.6 vs. 7.3 ± 3.8 Wood units, P < 0.003) without differences in LV ejection fraction or pulmonary capillary wedge pressure between groups. Among patients not prescribed PAH-specific pharmacotherapy prior to cardiac catheterization, a subgroup of the cohort with severe pulmonary hypertension, aldosterone levels correlated positively with PVR (r = 0.72, P < 0.02) and transpulmonary gradient (r = 0.69, P < 0.02), but correlated inversely with cardiac output (r = –0.79, P < 0.005).
These data demonstrate a novel cardiopulmonary haemodynamic profile associated with hyperaldosteronism in patients: diminished cardiac output due to pulmonary vascular disease in the absence of LV heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3576899  PMID: 23111998
Aldosterone; Pulmonary hypertension; Right ventricle; Heart failure
17.  Genetic polymorphisms confer risk of atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure: a population-based study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(3):250-257.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a frequent co-morbidity in heart failure (HF) associated with increased mortality, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying AF onset in HF patients. We evaluated the association of cardiovascular and genetic risk factors with AF in HF patients.
Methods and results
Individuals hospitalized for HF (n = 1040; 500 with AF) were identified from a large, population-based cohort study (n = 30 447; 2339 with AF). Genetic polymorphisms in the chromosomal regions 4q25 (rs2200733) and 16q22 (rs2106261) associated with AF in genome-wide association studies were genotyped. Association of cardiovascular risk factors and polymorphisms with AF was tested in HF patients and the entire cohort using both prospective and non-time-dependent models. Cardiovascular risk factors—hypertension, body mass index, sex, smoking, diabetes, and myocardial infarction—were associated with AF in the entire cohort but not in HF patients. In contrast, polymorphisms on chromosomes 16q22 and 4q25 were associated with AF both in the entire cohort and in HF patients, conferring 75% [95% confidence interval (CI) 35–126, P = 2 × 10−5] and 57% (95% CI 18–109, P = 0.002) increased risk of AF per copy in HF patients, respectively. In the entire cohort, AF risk in the presence of HF was multiplicatively magnified by genotype for 16q22 (P for interaction = 7 × 10−4) but not 4q25 (P = 0.83). In prospective analyses excluding patients with AF diagnosis prior to or simultaneously with HF diagnosis, 16q22 but not 4q25 remained robustly associated with AF (hazard ratio 1.96, 95% CI 1.40–2.73, P = 8 × 10−5). The proportion of AF diagnoses in HF patients attributable to polymorphisms was 19% and 12%, respectively.
A polymorphism in the ZFHX3 gene, encoding a cardiac transcription factor, was associated with increased AF risk in HF patients, and the genetic association with AF was more pronounced in HF patients than in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3576900  PMID: 23132824
Atrial fibrillation; Heart failure; Genetic association; Risk factors; Genetic predisposition
18.  Effect of bucindolol on heart failure outcomes and heart rate response in patients with reduced ejection fraction heart failure and atrial fibrillation 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(3):324-333.
There is little evidence of beta-blocker treatment benefit in patients with heart failure and reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (HFREF) and atrial fibrillation (AF). We investigated the effects of bucindolol in HFREF patients with AF enrolled in the Beta-blocker Evaluation of Survival Trial (BEST).
Methods and results
A post-hoc analysis of patients in BEST with and without AF was performed to estimate the effect of bucindolol on mortality and hospitalization. Patients were also evaluated for treatment effects on heart rate and the influence of beta1-adrenergic receptor position 389 (β1389) arginine (Arg) vs. glycine (Gly) genotypes. In the 303/2708 patients in AF, patients receiving bucindolol were more likely to achieve a resting heart rate ≤80 b.p.m. at 3 months (P < 0.005) in the absence of treatment-limiting bradycardia. In AF patients and sinus rhythm (SR) patients who achieved a resting heart rate ≤80 b.p.m., there were beneficial treatment effects on cardiovascular mortality/cardiovascular hospitalization [hazard ratio (HR) 0.61, P = 0.025, and 0.79, P = 0.002]. Without achieving a resting heart rate ≤80 b.p.m., there were no treatment effects on events in either group. β1389-Arg/Arg AF patients had nominally significant reductions in all-cause mortality/HF hospitalization and cardiovascular mortality/hospitalization with bucindolol (HR 0.23, P = 0.037 and 0.28, P = 0.039), whereas Gly carriers did not. There was no evidence of diminished heart rate response in β1389-Arg homozygotes.
In HFREF patients with AF, bucindolol was associated with reductions in composite HF endpoints in those who achieved a resting heart rate ≤80 b.p.m. and nominally in those with the β1389-Arg homozygous genotype.
PMCID: PMC3576901  PMID: 23223178
Atrial fibrillation; Heart failure; Bucindolol; Beta-blocker; Beta1-adrenergic receptor polymorphism
19.  Association between adrenergic receptor genotypes and beta-blocker dose in heart failure patients: analysis from the HF-ACTION DNA substudy 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(3):258-266.
Beta-blockers reduce morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure (HF) patients with reduced ejection fraction. However, there is heterogeneity in the response to these drugs, perhaps due to genetic variations in the β1-adrenergic receptor (ADRβ1). We examined whether the Arg389Gly polymorphism in ADRβ1 interacts with the dose requirements of beta-blockers in patients with systolic HF.
Methods and results
HF-ACTION was a randomized, multicentre trial of ambulatory HF patients with systolic dysfunction who were randomized to exercise training or usual care. A subset of patients provided DNA. The relationships among beta-blocker dose, ADRβ1–389 genotype, and outcomes were assessed using the Cox proportional hazards regression model. The interaction between beta-blocker dose and the ADRβ1–389 genotype was tested. DNA information was available for 957 patients. The alleles did not deviate from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Patients with the ADRβ1–389 Arg/Arg genotype receiving low-dose beta-blockers had a two-fold increase in the risk of death compared with those receiving a high dose (hazard ratio 2.09; P = 0.015); this was not conferred in Gly carriers. There was also an interaction between improvements in Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score and beta-blocker dose by genotype, suggesting that higher doses of beta-blockade might be needed to achieve benefit in Arg/Arg genotype patients.
There was a gene–dose interaction with the ADRβ1–389 Arg/Arg vs. Gly carrier genotype and beta-blocker dose, suggesting that patients with the Arg/Arg genotype might require a higher dose of beta-blockade to achieve a treatment response similar to that of Gly carriers.
PMCID: PMC3707429  PMID: 23115322
Adrenergic receptor polymorphisms; Genotypes; Heart failure; Beta-blockers; Dose
20.  Association between diabetes mellitus and post-discharge outcomes in patients hospitalized with heart failure: findings from the EVEREST trial 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;15(2):194-202.
We evaluated the impact of diabetes mellitus (DM) and diabetic therapy on outcomes in patients with reduced ejection fraction (EF) after hospitalization for heart failure (HF). DM is prevalent in patients hospitalized with HF, yet inconclusive data exist on the post-discharge outcomes of this patient population.
Methods and results
Post-hoc analysis was performed on the EVEREST (Efficacy of Vasopressin Antagonism in Heart Failure Outcome Study with Tolvaptan) study, a randomized trial of patients hospitalized with HF (n = 4133) with median follow-up of 9.9 months. DM status was determined from intake questionnaires and cross-verified by medication history. Univariate relationships were examined using χ2 test, t-test, and Wilcoxon tests. The two primary outcomes of (i) all-cause mortality (ACM) and (ii) cardiovascular mortality or HF hospitalization (CVM + HFH) were assessed for those with and without DM and by diabetic treatment strategy using log rank tests and multivariable Cox regression models. DM was present in 40% of participants. Patients with DM were more likely to have hypertension, coronary artery disease, and chronic kidney disease. Diabetes was associated with ACM and CVM + HFH (both P < 0.001). Following multivariate risk adjustment, DM was associated with ACM, but this estimate was imprecise [hazard ratio (HR) 1.16; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00–1.34] and remained associated with CVM or HFH (HR 1.17; 95% CI 1.04–1.31). Diabetic control strategy did not independently affect outcomes.
Diabetes is common in patients hospitalized for heart failure with a reduced EF. These patients have a higher post-discharge CVM and higher HF hospitalizations compared with patients with no diabetes. Different diabetic treatment regimens did not appear to influence post-discharge outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4176083  PMID: 23059198
Heart failure; Diabetes mellitus; Outcomes; Insulin
21.  Influence of documented history of coronary artery disease on outcomes in patients admitted for worsening heart failure with reduced ejection fraction in the EVEREST trial 
Data on the prognosis of heart failure (HF) patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have been conflicting. We describe the clinical characteristics and mode-specific outcomes of HF patients with reduced ejection fraction (EF) and documented CAD in a large randomized trial.
Methods and results
EVEREST was a prospective, randomized trial of vasopressin-2 receptor blockade, in addition to standard therapy, in 4133 patients hospitalized with worsening HF and reduced EF. Patients were classified as having CAD based on patient-reported myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary revascularization. We analysed the characteristics and outcomes [all-cause mortality and cardiovascular (CV) mortality/HF hospitalization] of patients with and without documented CAD. All events were centrally adjudicated. Documented CAD was present in 2353 patients (57%). Patients with CAD were older and had more co-morbidities compared with those without CAD. Patients with CAD were more likely to receive a beta-blocker, but less likely to receive an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or aldosterone antagonist (P < 0.01). After risk adjustment, patients with documented CAD had similar mortality [hazard ratio (HR) 1.12, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97–1.30], but were at an increased risk for CV mortality/HF hospitalization (HR 1.25, 95% CI 1.12–1.41) due to an increased risk for HF hospitalization (HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.10–1.44). Patients with CAD had increased HF- and MI-related events, but similar rates of sudden cardiac death.
Documented CAD in patients hospitalized for worsening HF with reduced EF was associated with a higher burden of co-morbidities, lower use of HF therapies (except beta-blockers), and increased HF hospitalization, while all-cause mortality was similar.
PMCID: PMC4176134  PMID: 22968743
Heart failure; Coronary artery disease; Outcomes; Hospitalization
22.  Chronic kidney disease and cardiac remodelling in patients with mild heart failure: results from the REsynchronization reVErses Remodeling in Systolic Left vEntricular Dysfunction (REVERSE) study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;14(12):1420-1428.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a risk factor for left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and heart failure. We evaluated the effect of CKD on left ventricular (LV) remodelling among patients with mild heart failure.
Methods and results
REVERSE was a randomized, controlled trial evaluating cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in patients with New York Heart Association (NYHA) class I/II heart failure. CKD was defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <60 mL/min/1.73 m2. We compared changes in LV function and size over the course of 12 months by CKD status using linear mixed models adjusted for demographics, co-morbidities, medications, cardiomyopathy aetiology, and CRT status. Finally, we evaluated the effect of CKD on cardiac remodelling among patients randomized to CRT on or off. CKD was associated with worsening LV function and dilation compared with the non-CKD group {adjusted, 12-month β coefficients for the CKD group compared with the non-CKD referent group: LV ejection fraction (%) [–1.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) –3.36 to –0.24], LV end-systolic volume (mL) (14.16, 95% CI 3.96–24.36), LV end-diastolic volume (mL) (14.88, 95% CI 2.88–26.76), LV end-systolic diameter (cm) (0.36, 95% CI 0.12–0.48), LV end-diastolic diameter (cm) (0.24, 95% CI 0.012–0.36), mitral regurgitation (%) (3.12, 95% CI 0.48–5.76), and LV shape (0.036, 95% CI 0.012–0.060)}. In participants assigned to CRT, those without CKD had significantly greater improvements in LV structural parameters compared with the CKD group.
In comparison with participants with normal kidney function, CKD is an independent risk factor for ventricular dysfunction and dilation. CRT improves LV function and structure to a lesser extent in patients with CKD than in those with normal kidney function.
PMCID: PMC3506959  PMID: 22956574
Chronic kidney disease; Heart failure; Cardiac resynchronization therapy
23.  Dynamics of bone turnover markers in patients with heart failure and following haemodynamic improvement through ventricular assist device implantation 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;14(12):1356-1365.
Abnormal bone metabolism and progressive demineralization have been described in patients with heart failure (HF). We hypothesized that mechanical unloading through implantation of a ventricular assist device (VAD) with subsequent haemodynamic improvement would correct abnormal bone metabolism in patients with advanced HF.
Methods and results
Serum was collected from 14 controls, 20 patients with moderate HF, 34 patients with advanced HF undergoing VAD implantation, and 34 patients at the time of VAD explantation (mean duration: 169 ± 125 days). Bone metabolism markers were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorption assay (ELISA) or chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA). Compared with controls, HF patients showed increased parathyroid hormone (PTH: 42 ± 19 vs. 117 ± 117 pg/mL in HF; P < 0.02) with decreased 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D: 29 ± 14 vs. 21 ± 11 ng/mL in HF; P = 0.05]. While procollagen-1 N-terminal peptide (P1NP) and osteocalcin were similar, cross-linked C- and N-telopeptides of type I collagen (CTX and NTX) were both higher in HF (NTX: 14 ± 6 vs. 20 ± 11 ng/mL; P < 0.05; CTX: 0.35 ± 0.13 vs. 1.05 ± 0.78 ng/mL; P < 0.01 for controls and HF, respectively). P1NP increased markedly after VAD implantation (49 ± 37 vs. 121 ± 62 ng/mL; P < 0.0001), with a mild decrease in CTX and NTX levels indicating a shift towards anabolic bone formation. Serum PTH correlated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (r = –0.245, P < 0.05).
Patients with advanced HF are characterized by increased levels of biochemical markers of bone resorption potentially as a result of secondary hyperparathyroidism and uncoupling of bone remodelling. Haemodynamic improvement and mechanical unloading after VAD implantation lead to correction of bone metabolism and increased levels of anabolic bone formation markers.
PMCID: PMC3598377  PMID: 22989867
Heart failure; Bone metabolism; Ventricular assist; Device
24.  Phospholamban R14del mutation in patients diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy or arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy: evidence supporting the concept of arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;14(11):1199-1207.
To investigate whether phospholamban gene (PLN) mutations underlie patients diagnosed with either arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) or idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Methods and results
We screened a cohort of 97 ARVC and 257 DCM unrelated index patients for PLN mutations and evaluated their clinical characteristics. PLN mutation R14del was identified in 12 (12 % ) ARVC patients and in 39 (15 % ) DCM patients. Haplotype analysis revealed a common founder, estimated to be between 575 and 825 years old. A low voltage electrocardiogram was present in 46 % of R14del carriers. Compared with R14del– DCM patients, R14del+ DCM patients more often demonstrated appropriate implantable cardioverter defibrillator discharge (47 % vs. 10 % , P < 0.001), cardiac transplantation (18 % vs. 2 % , P < 0.001), and a family history for sudden cardiac death (SCD) at < 50 years (36 % vs. 16 % , P = 0.007). We observed a similar pattern in the ARVC patients although this was not statistically significant. The average age of 26 family members who died of SCD was 37.7 years. Immunohistochemistry in available myocardial samples revealed absent/depressed plakoglobin levels at intercalated disks in five of seven (71 % ) R14del+ ARVC samples, but in only one of nine (11 % ) R14del+ DCM samples (P = 0.03).
The PLN R14del founder mutation is present in a substantial number of patients clinically diagnosed with DCM or ARVC. R14del+ patients diagnosed with DCM showed an arrhythmogenic phenotype, and SCD at young age can be the presenting symptom. These findings support the concept of ‘arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy’.
PMCID: PMC3475434  PMID: 22820313
Arrhythmia; Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy; Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Dilated cardiomyopathy; Genetics
25.  Association of QRS duration with left ventricular structure and function and risk of heart failure in middle-aged and older adults: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2012;14(11):1285-1292.
Prolonged QRS duration (QRSd) on the electrocardiogram (ECG) has been associated with cardiac structural and functional abnormalities by echocardiography and an increased risk of heart failure (HF). Data are sparse on these relationships in middle-aged and elderly individuals free of baseline cardiovascular disease with respect to cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We sought to determine whether QRSd is associated with incident HF and measures of cardiac structure and function by cardiac MRI.
Methods and results
We analysed baseline ECGs in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to determine whether QRSd >100 ms was associated with incident HF. We adjusted for demographic and clinical risk factors, as well as MRI measures of left ventricular (LV) structure and function. Among 4591 eligible participants (51% women; 39% white; mean age 61 years), 75 developed incident HF over a mean follow-up of 7.1 years. QRSd >100 ms was significantly associated with MRI measures of cardiac structure and function, as well as incident HF, even after adjustment for demographic covariates [hazard ratio (HR) 2.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.29–3.42; P = 0.003] and clinical risk factors (HR 1.86, 95% CI 1.14–3.03; P = 0.01). With further adjustment for individual LV structural measures, findings were attenuated to non-significance. Separate adjustment for LV functional measures yielded only mild attenuation.
In middle-aged and older adults without cardiovascular disease, a QRSd >100 ms was significantly associated with incident HF. After adjustment for LV structural measures, the association was attenuated to non-significance, suggesting that prolonged QRSd is potentially a useful marker of LV structure that may predispose to HF risk.
PMCID: PMC3530347  PMID: 22791081
Electrocardiogram; Heart failure; Magnetic resonance imaging; QRS duration

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