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1.  Rate of cardiac arrhythmias and silent brain lesions in experienced marathon runners: rationale, design and baseline data of the Berlin Beat of Running study 
Background
Regular exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health but a recent meta-analysis indicated a relationship between extensive endurance sport and a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, an independent risk factor for stroke. However, data on the frequency of cardiac arrhythmias or (clinically silent) brain lesions during and after marathon running are missing.
Methods/ Design
In the prospective observational “Berlin Beat of Running” study experienced endurance athletes underwent clinical examination (CE), 3 Tesla brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), carotid ultrasound imaging (CUI) and serial blood sampling (BS) within 2-3 days prior (CE, MRI, CUI, BS), directly after (CE, BS) and within 2 days after (CE, MRI, BS) the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011. All participants wore a portable electrocardiogram (ECG)-recorder throughout the 4 to 5 days baseline study period. Participants with pathological MRI findings after the marathon, troponin elevations or detected cardiac arrhythmias will be asked to undergo cardiac MRI to rule out structural abnormalities. A follow-up is scheduled after one year.
Results
Here we report the baseline data of the enrolled 110 athletes aged 36-61 years. Their mean age was 48.8 ± 6.0 years, 24.5% were female, 8.2% had hypertension and 2.7% had hyperlipidaemia. Participants have attended a mean of 7.5 ± 6.6 marathon races within the last 5 years and a mean of 16 ± 36 marathon races in total. Their weekly running distance prior to the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON was 65 ± 17 km. Finally, 108 (98.2%) Berlin Beat-Study participants successfully completed the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011.
Discussion
Findings from the “Berlin Beats of Running” study will help to balance the benefits and risks of extensive endurance sport. ECG-recording during the marathon might contribute to identify athletes at risk for cardiovascular events. MRI results will give new insights into the link between physical stress and brain damage.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01428778
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-69
PMCID: PMC3458995  PMID: 22938148
Marathon running; ECG-recording; Magnetic resonance imaging; Blood sampling; Cardiac arrhythmia
2.  Stroke risk associated with balloon based catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation: Rationale and design of the MACPAF Study 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:63.
Background
Catheter ablation of the pulmonary veins has become accepted as a standard therapeutic approach for symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). However, there is some evidence for an ablation associated (silent) stroke risk, lowering the hope to limit the stroke risk by restoration of rhythm over rate control in AF. The purpose of the prospective randomized single-center study "Mesh Ablator versus Cryoballoon Pulmonary Vein Ablation of Symptomatic Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation" (MACPAF) is to compare the efficacy and safety of two balloon based pulmonary vein ablation systems in patients with symptomatic paroxysmal AF.
Methods/Design
Patients are randomized 1:1 for the Arctic Front® or the HD Mesh Ablator® catheter for left atrial catheter ablation (LACA). The predefined endpoints will be assessed by brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuro(psycho)logical tests and a subcutaneously implanted reveal recorder for AF detection. According to statistics 108 patients will be enrolled.
Discussion
Findings from the MACPAF trial will help to balance the benefits and risks of LACA for symptomatic paroxysmal AF. Using serial brain MRIs might help to identify patients at risk for LACA-associated cerebral thromboembolism. Potential limitations of the study are the single-center design, the existence of a variety of LACA-catheters, the missing placebo-group and the impossibility to assess the primary endpoint in a blinded fashion.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01061931
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-63
PMCID: PMC2919504  PMID: 20663131

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