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1.  Impaired heart rate recovery is associated with new-onset atrial fibrillation: a prospective cohort study 
Background
Autonomic dysfunction appears to play a significant role in the development of atrial fibrillation (AF), and impaired heart rate recovery (HRR) during exercise treadmill testing (ETT) is a known marker for autonomic dysfunction. However, whether impaired HRR is associated with incident AF is unknown. We studied the association of impaired HRR with the development of incident AF, after controlling for demographic and clinical confounders.
Methods
We studied 8236 patients referred for ETT between 2001 and 2004, and without a prior history of AF. Patients were categorized by normal or impaired HRR on ETT. The primary outcome was the development of AF. Cox proportional hazards modeling was used to control for demographic and clinical characteristics. Secondary analyses exploring a continuous relationship between impaired HRR and AF, and exploring interactions between cardiac medication use, HRR, and AF were also conducted.
Results
After adjustment, patients with impaired HRR were more likely to develop AF than patients with normal HRR (HR 1.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06, 1.93). In addition, there was a linear trend between impaired HRR and AF (HR 1.05 for each decreasing BPM in HRR, 95% CI 0.99, 1.11). No interactions between cardiac medications, HRR, and AF were noted.
Conclusion
Patients with impaired HRR on ETT were more likely to develop new-onset AF, as compared to patients with normal HRR. These findings support the hypothesis that autonomic dysfunction mediates the development of AF, and suggest that interventions known to improve HRR, such as exercise training, may delay or prevent AF.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-9-11
PMCID: PMC2660286  PMID: 19284627
2.  Adherence to cardioprotective medications and mortality among patients with diabetes and ischemic heart disease 
Background
Patients with diabetes and ischemic heart disease (IHD) are at high risk for adverse cardiac outcomes. Clinical practice guidelines recommend multiple cardioprotective medications to reduce recurrent events. We evaluated the association between cardioprotective medication adherence and mortality among patients with diabetes and IHD.
Methods
In a retrospective cohort study of 3,998 patients with diabetes and IHD, we evaluated use of ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, β-blockers, and statin medications. Receipt of cardioprotective medications was based on filled prescriptions. Medication adherence was calculated as the proportion of days covered (PDC) for filled prescriptions. The primary outcome of interest was all-cause mortality.
Results
The majority of patients (92.8%) received at least 1 cardioprotective medication. Patients receiving any medications had lower unadjusted mortality rates compared to patients not receiving any medications (7.9% vs. 11.5%; p = 0.03). In multivariable analysis, receipt of any cardioprotective medication remained associated with lower all-cause mortality (OR 0.65; 95% CI 0.43–0.99). Among patients receiving cardioprotective medications, the majority (80.3%) were adherent (PDC ≥ 0.80). Adherent patients had lower unadjusted mortality rates (6.7% vs. 12.1%; p < 0.01). In multivariable analysis, medication adherence remained associated with lower all-cause mortality (OR 0.52; 95% CI 0.39–0.69) compared to non-adherence. In contrast, there was no mortality difference between patients receiving cardioprotective medications who were non-adherent compared to patients not receiving any medications (OR 1.01; 95% CI 0.64–1.61).
Conclusion
In conclusion, medication adherence is associated with improved outcomes among patients with diabetes and IHD. Quality improvement interventions are needed to increase medication adherence in order for patients to maximize the benefit of cardioprotective medications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-6-48
PMCID: PMC1762024  PMID: 17173679
3.  The association between processes, structures and outcomes of secondary prevention care among VA ischemic heart disease patients 
Background
Hyperlipidemia and hypertension are well-established risk factors for recurrent cardiovascular events among patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD). Despite national recommendations, concordance with guidelines for LDL cholesterol and blood pressure remains inadequate. The objectives of this study were to 1) determine concordance rates with LDL cholesterol and BP recommendations; and 2) identify patient factors, processes and structures of care associated with guideline concordance among VA IHD patients.
Methods
This was a cross sectional study of veterans with IHD from 8 VA hospitals. Outcomes were concordance with LDL guideline recommendations (LDL<100 mg/dl), and BP recommendations (<140/90 mm Hg). Cumulative logit and hierarchical logistic regression analyses were performed to identify patient factors, processes, and structures of care independently associated with guideline concordance.
Results
Of 14,114 veterans with IHD, 55.7% had hypertension, 71.5% had hyperlipidemia, and 41.6% had both conditions. Guideline concordance for LDL and BP were 38.9% and 53.4%, respectively. However, only 21.9% of the patients achieved both LDL <100 mg/dl and BP <140/90 mm Hg. In multivariable analyses, patient factors including older age and the presence of vascular disease were associated with worse guideline concordance. In contrast, diabetes was associated with better guideline concordance. Several process of care variables, including higher number of outpatient visits, higher number of prescribed medications, and a recent cardiac hospitalization were associated with better guideline concordance. Among structures of care, having on-site cardiology was associated with a trend towards better guideline concordance.
Conclusion
Guideline concordance with secondary prevention measures among IHD patients remains suboptimal. It is hoped that the findings of this study can serve as an impetus for quality improvement efforts to improve upon secondary prevention measures and reduce the morbidity and mortality of patients with known IHD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-6-6
PMCID: PMC1413554  PMID: 16469100

Results 1-3 (3)