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1.  The CYP2J2 G-50T polymorphism and myocardial infarction in patients with cardiovascular risk profile 
Background
Cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme 2J2, an epoxygenase predominantly expressed in the heart, metabolises arachidonic acid to biologically active eicosanoids. One of the CYP2J2 products, 11, 12-epoxyeicosatrienoic acid, has several vasoprotective effects. The CYP2J2-G-50T-promotor polymorphism decreases gene expression and is associated with coronary artery disease. This association supports the vascular protective role of CYP-derived eicosanoids in cardiovascular disease. In the present study, we investigated the influence of this polymorphism on survived myocardial infarction in two study groups of patients with on average high cardiovascular risk profile.
Methods
The CYP2J2 polymorphism was genotyped in two groups of patients that were collected with the same method of clinical data collection. Data from 512 patients with sleep apnoea (group: OSA) and on average high cardiovascular risk profile and from another 488 patients who were admitted for coronary angiography (CAR-group) were evaluated for a potential correlation of the CYP2J2 polymorphism G-50T and a history of myocardial infarction. The G-50T polymorphism of the CYP2J2 gene was genotyped by allele specific restriction and light cycler analysis.
Results
The T-allele of the polymorphism was found in 111 (11.1%; CAR-group: N = 65, 13.3%; OSA: N = 46, 9.0%). 146 patients had a history of myocardial infarction (CAR: N = 120, 24.6%; OSA: N = 26, 5.1%). Cardiovascular risk factors were equally distributed between the different genotypes of the CYP2J2 G-50T polymorphism. In the total group of 1000 individuals, carriers of the T-allele had significantly more myocardial infarctions compared to carriers of the wild type (T/T or G/T: 21.6%; G/G: 13.7%; p = 0.026, odds ratio 1.73, 95%-CI [1.06–2.83]). In the multivariate logistic regression analysis the odds ratio for a history of myocardial infarction in carriers of the T-allele was 1.611, 95%-CI [0.957–2.731] but this trend was not significant (p = 0.073).
Conclusion
In presence of other risk factors, the CYP2J2 G-50T failed to show a significant role in the development of myocardial infarction. However, since our result is close to the border of significance, this question should be clarified in larger, prospective studies in the future.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-41
PMCID: PMC2626571  PMID: 19105833
2.  Association of alpha1a-adrenergic receptor polymorphism and blood pressure phenotypes in the Brazilian population 
Background
The alpha1A-adrenergic receptor (α1A-AR) regulates the cardiac and peripheral vascular system through sympathetic activation. Due to its important role in the regulation of vascular tone and blood pressure, we aimed to investigate the association between the Arg347Cys polymorphism in the α1A-AR gene and blood pressure phenotypes, in a large sample of Brazilians from an urban population.
Methods
A total of 1568 individuals were randomly selected from the general population of the Vitória City metropolitan area. Genetic analysis of the Arg347Cys polymorphism was conducted by polymerase chain reaction/restriction fragment length polymorphism. We have compared cardiovascular risk variables and genotypes using ANOVA, and Chi-square test for univariate comparisons and logistic regression for multivariate comparisons.
Results
Association analysis indicated a significant difference between genotype groups with respect to diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.04), but not systolic blood pressure (p = 0.12). In addition, presence of the Cys/Cys genotype was marginally associated with hypertension in our population (p = 0.06). Significant interaction effects were observed between the studied genetic variant, age and physical activity. Presence of the Cys/Cys genotype was associated with hypertension only in individuals with regular physical activity (odds ratio = 1.86; p = 0.03) or younger than 45 years (odds ratio = 1.27; p = 0.04).
Conclusion
Physical activity and age may potentially play a role by disclosing the effects of the Cys allele on blood pressure. According to our data it is possible that the Arg347Cys polymorphism can be used as a biomarker to disease risk in a selected group of individuals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-40
PMCID: PMC2630987  PMID: 19105822
3.  Enhanced external counter pulsation in treatment of refractory angina pectoris: two year outcome and baseline factors associated with treatment failure 
Background
Enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP) is a non-invasive treatment option for patients with refractory angina pectoris ineligible to further traditional treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of EECP on patients at a Scandinavian medical centre and to investigate if outcome can be predicted by analysing baseline factors.
Methods
86 consecutive patients (70 male, 16 female) were treated with EECP and followed for two years post treatment. Canadian cardiovascular society (CCS) class was analysed, and medication and adverse clinical events were researched prior to EECP, at the end of the treatment, and at six, 12 and 24 months thereafter. Patients responding to therapy by improving at least one CCS class were compared with those who failed to respond. Any differences in background factors were recorded and analysed.
Results
79% of the patients responded to therapy by improving at least one CCS class. In general, the CCS class improved by one class after EECP treatment (3.05 before versus 2.14 after treatment). A total of 61.5% of the initial responders showed sustained improvement at the 12 month follow-up while 29% presented sustained improvement after 24 months. Treatment was most effective among patients suffering from CCS class III-IV angina pectoris, while patients suffering from CCS class II angina pectoris improved transiently but failed to show sustained improvement after the 12 month follow-up. Diabetes mellitus and calcium channel antagonists were more common among the non-responders (p < 0.05).
Conclusion
This study confirms the safety and efficiency of EECP as a treatment option for patients suffering from refractory angina pectoris. The therapy is most beneficial in patients suffering from severe angina (CCS III-IV) while sustained response to therapy could not be verified among patients suffering from CCS class II angina pectoris.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-39
PMCID: PMC2632654  PMID: 19094202
4.  The role of coronary artery calcification score in clinical practice 
Background
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) measured by electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) has been well studied in the prediction of coronary artery disease (CAD). We sought to evaluate the impact of the CAC score in the diagnostic process immediately after its introduction in a large tertiary referral centre.
Methods
598 patients with no history of CAD who underwent EBCT for evaluation of CAD were retrospectively included into the study. Ischemia detection test results (exercise stress test, single photon emission computed tomography or ST segment analysis on 24 hours ECG detection), as well as the results of coronary angiography (CAG) were collected.
Results
The mean age of the patients was 55 ± 11 years (57% male). Patients were divided according to CAC scores; group A < 10, B 10 – 99, C 100 – 399 and D ≥ 400 (304, 135, 89 and 70 patients respectively). Ischemia detection tests were performed in 531 (89%) patients; negative ischemia results were found in 362 patients (183 in group A, 87 in B, 58 in C, 34 in D). Eighty-eight percent of the patients in group D underwent CAG despite negative ischemia test results, against 6% in group A, 16% in group B and 29% in group C. A positive ischemia test was found in 74 patients (25 in group A, 17 in B, 16 in C, 16 in D). In group D 88% (N = 14) of the patients with a positive ischemia test were referred for CAG, whereas 38 – 47% in group A-C.
Conclusion
Our study showed that patients with a high CAC score are more often referred for CAG. The CAC scores can be used as an aid in daily cardiology practice to determine further decision making.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-38
PMCID: PMC2628861  PMID: 19091061
5.  The PPARGC1A Gly482Ser polymorphism is associated with left ventricular diastolic dysfunction in men 
Background
The Gly482Ser polymorphism in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 alpha (PPARGC1A) has been demonstrated to be associated with diabetes, obesity and hypertension, all of which are important risk factors for left ventricular diastolic dysfunction.
Methods
The PPARGC1A Gly482Ser polymorphism was genotyped in a community-based cohort of 499 men and 533 women, who also underwent an echocardiographic examination to determine their left ventricular diastolic function. The association between the polymorphism and the presence of diastolic dysfunction was evaluated using logistic regression models.
Results
The Ser allele of the PPARGC1A Gly482Ser polymorphism was significantly associated with a lower risk of diastolic dysfunction in men, but not in women. In a model adjusting for potential confounders (age, body mass index, leisure time physical activity, hypertension and diabetes) the results were still significant and substantial (odds ratio 0.13, 95% confidence interval 0.03–0.54, p for trend = 0.004). The results were consistent in a series of models, and they imply a multiplicative, protective effect of the Ser allele, with lower risk of diastolic dysfunction for each copy of the allele.
Conclusion
The Ser allele of the PPARGC1A Gly482Ser polymorphism was associated with decreased risk of diastolic left ventricular dysfunction in men, but not in women, in our large community-based sample. It was associated with a substantially decreased risk, even after adjustment for potential confounders. The clinical importance of the findings has to be established in further studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-37
PMCID: PMC2637232  PMID: 19077249
6.  The Asp298 allele of endothelial nitric oxide synthase is a risk factor for myocardial infarction among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus 
Background
Endothelial dysfunction plays a central role in atherosclerotic progression and cardiovascular complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Given the role of nitric oxide in the vascular system, we aimed to test hypotheses of synergy between the common endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) Asp298 allele and T2DM in predisposing to acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Methods
In a population-based patient survey with 403 persons with T2DM and 799 healthy subjects from the population without diabetes or hypertension, we analysed the relation between T2DM, sex and the eNOS Asp298 allele versus the risk for AMI.
Results
In an overall analysis, T2DM was a significant independent risk factor for AMI. In patients with T2DM, homozygosity for the eNOS Asp298 allele was a significant risk factor (HR 3.12 [1.49–6.56], p = 0.003), but not in subjects without diabetes or hypertension.
Compared to wild-type non-diabetic subjects, all patients with T2DM had a significantly increased risk of AMI regardless of genotype. This risk was however markedly higher in patients with T2DM homozygous for the Asp298 allele (HR 7.20 [3.01–17.20], p < 0.001), independent of sex, BMI, systolic blood pressure, serum triglycerides, HDL -cholesterol, current smoking, and leisure time physical activity. The pattern seemed stronger in women than in men.
Conclusion
We show here a strong independent association between eNOS genotype and AMI in patients with T2DM. This suggests a synergistic effect of the eNOS Asp298 allele and diabetes, and confirms the role of eNOS as an important pathological bottleneck for cardiovascular disease in patients with T2DM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-36
PMCID: PMC2636751  PMID: 19077211
7.  A clinical and EEG scoring system that predicts early cortical response (N20) to somatosensory evoked potentials and outcome after cardiac arrest 
Background
Anoxic coma following cardiac arrest is a common problem with ethical, social, and legal consequences. Except for unfavorable somatosensory-evoked potentials (SSEP) results, predictors of unfavorable outcome with a 100% specificity and a high sensitivity are lacking. The aim of the current research was to construct a clinical and EEG scoring system that predicts early cortical response (N20) to somatosensory evoked potentials and 6-months outcome in comatose patients after cardiac arrest.
Methods
We retrospectively reviewed the records of all consecutive patients who suffered cardiac arrest outside our hospital and were subsequently admitted to our facility from November 2002 to July 2006. We scored each case based on early clinical and EEG factors associated with unfavorable SSEPs, and we assessed the ability of this score to predict SSEP results and outcome.
Results
Sixty-six patients qualified for inclusion in the cohort. Among them, 34 (52%) had unfavorable SSEP results. At day three, factors independently associated with unfavorable SSEPs were: absence of corneal (14 points) and pupillary (21 points) reflexes, myoclonus (25 points), extensor or absent motor response to painful stimulation (28 points), and malignant EEG (11 points). A score >40 points had a sensitivity of 85%, a specificity of 84%, and a positive predictive value (PPV) of 85% to predict unfavorable SSEP results. A score >88 points had a PPV of 100%, but a sensitivity of 18%. Overall, this score had an area under ROC curves of 0.919. In addition, at day three, a score > 69 points had a PPV of 100% with a sensitivity of 32% to predict death or vegetative state.
Conclusion
A scoring system based on a combination of clinical and EEG findings can predict the absence of early cortical response to SSEPs. In settings without access to SSEPs, this score may help decision-making in a subset of comatose survivors after a cardiac arrest.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-35
PMCID: PMC2630986  PMID: 19055810
8.  B-type natriuretic peptide is a long-term predictor of all-cause mortality, whereas high-sensitive C-reactive protein predicts recurrent short-term troponin T positive cardiac events in chest pain patients: a prognostic study 
Background
Few studies have addressed whether the combined use of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) improves risk stratification for mortality and cardiovascular events in a population with chest pain and suspected acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Therefore, we wanted to assess the incremental prognostic value of these biomarkers with respect to long-term all-cause mortality and recurrent troponin T (TnT) positive cardiac events in 871 patients admitted to the emergency department.
Methods
Blood samples were obtained immediately following admission.
Results
After a follow-up period of 24 months, 129 patients had died. The BNP levels were significantly higher among patients dying than in long-term survivors (401 (145–736) versus 75 (29–235) pq/mL [median, 25 and 75% percentiles], p = 0.000). In a multivariable Cox regression model for death within 2 years, the hazard ratio (HR) for BNP in the highest quartile (Q4) was 5.13 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.97–13.38) compared to the lowest quartile (Q1) and was associated with all-cause mortality above and beyond age, congestive heart failure and the index diagnosis ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. HsCRP rendered no prognostic information for all-cause mortality. However, within 30 days, the adjusted HR for patients with recurrent TnT cardiac positive events hsCRP in Q4 was 14.79 (95% CI, 1.89–115.63) compared with Q1 and was associated with recurrent ischemic events above and beyond age, hypercholesterolemia and TnT values at admission.
Conclusion
BNP may act as a clinically useful biomarker when obtained at admission in an unselected patient population following hospitalization with chest pain and potential ACS, and may provide complementary prognostic information to established risk determinants at long-term follow-up. Our data do not support the hypothesis that the additional assessment of hsCRP will lead to better risk stratification for survival than BNP alone.
Trial registration
NCT00521976
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-34
PMCID: PMC2628862  PMID: 19032759
9.  Quality of life after carotid endarterectomy 
Background
Most studies documenting beneficial outcomes after carotid endarterectomy (CE) are limited to mortality and morbidity rates, costs, and length of hospital stay (LOS). Few have examined the dependency of patients and how they perceive their own health changes after surgery. The aim of the present study was to evaluate quality of life and independence in activities of daily living (ADL) and to study its determinants.
Methods
Sixty-three patients admitted in the Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU) after CE were eligible for this 14-month follow-up study. Patients were contacted 6 months after discharge to complete a Short Form-36 questionnaire (SF-36) and to have their dependency in ADL evaluated.
Results
Among 59 hospital survivors at 6 months follow-up, 43 completed the questionnaires. Sixty-three percent reported that their general level of health was better on the day they answered the questionnaire than 12 months earlier. Patients had worse SF-36 scores for all domains except bodily pain than a general urban population, and comparison with a group of patients 6 months after surgical ICU discharge showed no differences. Six months after PACU discharge, the Lawton Instrumental Activities of ADL Scale and the Katz Index of ADL demonstrated higher dependency scores (5.9 ± 2.2 versus 4.3 ± 2.4 and 0.3 ± 0.8 versus 0.6 ± 0.9, p < 0.001 and p = 0.047). Sixty-five percent and 33% were dependent in at least one activity in instrumental and personal ADL, respectively. Patients dependent in at least one ADL task had higher Revised Cardiac Risk Index (RCRI) scores (1.0 versus 1.5, p = 0.017). After controlling for multiple comparisons, no significant differences were found.
Conclusion
Patients undergoing CE have improved self-perception of quality of life despite being more dependent. Almost all their scores are worse than those in an urban population. We could identify no predictors of greater dependency in ADL tasks six months after PACU discharge.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-33
PMCID: PMC2600818  PMID: 19021913
10.  Is population screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm cost-effective? 
Background
Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is responsible for 1–2% of all male deaths over the age of 65 years. Early detection of AAA and elective surgery can reduce the mortality risk associated with AAA. However, many patients will not be diagnosed with AAA and have therefore an increased death risk due to the untreated AAA. It has been suggested that population screening for AAA in elderly males is effective and cost-effective. The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review of published cost-effectiveness analyses of screening elderly men for AAA.
Methods
We performed a systematic search for economic evaluations in NHSEED, EconLit, Medline, Cochrane, Embase, Cinahl and two Scandinavian HTA data bases (DACEHTA and SBU). All identified studies were read in full and each study was systematically assessed according to international guidelines for critical assessment of economic evaluations in health care.
Results
The search identified 16 cost-effectiveness studies. Most studies considered only short term cost consequences. The studies seemed to employ a number of "optimistic" assumptions in favour of AAA screening, and included only few sensitivity analyses that assessed less optimistic assumptions.
Conclusion
Further analyses of cost-effectiveness of AAA screening are recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-32
PMCID: PMC2607250  PMID: 19017393
11.  Pacemaker patients' perception of unsafe activities: a survey 
Background
Cardiac pacing is a recognized and widely used treatment for patients presenting with bradycardia. Physicians expect patients to return to normal activities almost immediately post implantation. However, patients themselves may perceive interference to pacemaker function by various routine activities and devices, and hence continue to lead restricted, disabled lives. The aim of this study is to determine if routine activities are perceived by pacemaker patients to interfere with their device function.
Methods
A descriptive cross sectional survey was carried out on consecutive patients at the pacemaker clinic at a public hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. A 47-question tool was developed and tested. Patients' perceptions of safety of performing various routine activities, along with socio-demographic data were recorded.
Results
The final sample included 93 adult patients (45% males). 41% were illiterate. 77.4% recalled receiving counselling at implantation, predominantly from the implanting physician and house staff. A considerable proportion of patients considered many routine activities unsafe including driving automobiles (28%), passing through metal detectors (31%), bending over (37%), and sleeping on the side of the pacemaker (30%). Also considered unsafe were operation of household appliances- TV/VCR (television/video cassette recorders) (53%), irons (55%)) and electrical wall switches (56%).
For nearly all variables neither literacy nor history of counselling improved incorrect perceptions.
Conclusion
This study shows that our pacemaker patients perceive many routine activities as unsafe, potentially leading to disabling life style modifications. The tremendous investment in pacemaker technology to improve patient performance is not going to pay dividends if patients continue to remain disabled due to incorrect perceptions. Further studies are required to determine the reasons for these misperceptions, and to determine if these problems also exist in, and hinder, other patient populations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-31
PMCID: PMC2600817  PMID: 19014563
12.  Metabolic effects of an AT1-receptor blockade combined with HCTZ in cardiac risk patients: a non interventional study in primary care 
Background
The reduction of blood pressure alone does not eliminate the increased risk of arterial hypertension. Whilst concomitant metabolic risk factors have been shown to be responsible, the available pharmacotherapy has differential effects on these metabolic risk factors. For example, diuretics and betablockers worsen glucose metabolism, hence the starting point of the current subanalysis of the CHILI (Candesartan in patients with HIgher cardiovascuLar rIsk) study was the assumption that an angiotensin receptor blocker may counterbalance the metabolic effects of a low dose diuretic in patients with several metabolic risk factors.
Methods
The present study was performed as a non-interventional observational study in Germany. Patients with previously uncontrolled hypertension with at least one further risk factor in which physicians deemed a treatment with 16 mg Candesartan/12.5 mg HCTZ to be necessary were included. The risk factors were calculated in patient subgroups with diabetes, the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) and neither condition (control). The risk of cardiovascular mortality within the next 10 years was calculated using the SCORE algorithm of the ESC.
Results
Between August 2006 and February 2007 a total of 3,787 patients were included into the non-interventional trial. Patients were 62.2 ± 11.3 years old, 48.1% were female, 97.5% had at least one additional risk factor. Blood pressure was reduced by -27.2/-13.4 mmHg with only minor non significant variations between patient groups. Waist circumference was reduced (P < 0.0001) and HDL-C elevated (P < 0.05) in every subgroup except the control subgroup. Fasting blood glucose was reduced by -5.6 ± 21.6% (P < 0.0001 vs. baseline and vs. control) as well as triglycerides (-4.9 ± 29.4%; P < 0.0001 vs. baseline and vs. control). The SCORE value was reduced substantially (-8.7, -3.2 and -2.7% in patients with diabetes, the metabolic syndrome or neither).
Conclusion
The present study demonstrates that a 16 mg candesartan/12.5 mg HCTZ based treatment results in a pronounced blood pressure reduction and was associated with a favourable change in metabolic risk factors such as HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. These data indicate that metabolic effects observed in clinical trials like ALPINE, SCOPE or CHARM can also be observed in an unselected patient population in primary care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-30
PMCID: PMC2588554  PMID: 19000308
13.  Correction: PAIS: paracetamol (acetaminophen) in stroke; protocol for a randomized, double blind clinical trial. [ISCRTN74418480] 
Background
The Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) In Stroke (PAIS) study is a phase III multicenter, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of high-dose acetaminophen in patients with acute stroke. The trial compares treatment with a daily dose of 6 g acetaminophen, started within 12 hours after the onset of symptoms, with matched placebo. The purpose of this study is to assess whether treatment with acetaminophen for 3 days will result in improved functional outcome through a modest reduction in body temperature and prevention of fever.
The previously planned statistical analysis based on a dichotomization of the scores on the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) may not make the most efficient use of the available baseline information. Therefore, the planned primary analysis of the PAIS study has been changed from fixed dichotomization of the mRS to a sliding dichotomy analysis.
Methods
Instead of taking a single definition of good outcome for all patients, the definition is tailored to each individual patient's baseline prognosis on entry into the trial.
Conclusion
The protocol change was initiated because of both advances in statistical approaches and to increase the efficiency of the trial by improving statistical power.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials [ISCRTN74418480]
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-29
PMCID: PMC2600816  PMID: 18983661
14.  Health-related quality of life after myocardial infarction is associated with level of left ventricular ejection fraction 
Background
The objective was to explore the relationship between left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) assessed during hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction (MI) and later health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
Methods
We used multivariable linear regression to assess the relationship between LVEF and HRQoL in 256 MI patients who responded to the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ), the EQ-5D Index, and the EuroQol Visual Analogue Scale (EQ-VAS) 2.5 years after the index MI.
Results
167 patients had normal LVEF (>50%), 56 intermediate (40%–50%), and 33 reduced (<40%). The mean (SD) KCCQ clinical summary scores were 85 (18), 75 (22), and 68 (21) (p <0.001) in the three groups, respectively. The corresponding EQ-5D Index scores were 0.83 (0.18), 0.72 (0.27), and 0.76 (0.14) (p = 0.005) and EQ-VAS scores were 72 (18), 65 (21), and 57 (20) (p = 0.001). In multivariable linear regression analysis age ≥ 70 years, known chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), subsequent MI, intermediate LVEF, and reduced LVEF were independent determinants for reduced KCCQ clinical summary score. Female sex, medication for angina pectoris at discharge, and intermediate LVEF were independent determinants for reduced EQ-5D Index score. Age ≥ 70 years, COPD, and reduced LVEF were associated with reduced EQ-VAS score.
Conclusion
LVEF measured during hospitalization for MI was a determinant for HRQoL 2.5 years later.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-28
PMCID: PMC2576460  PMID: 18847506
15.  Predictive value of coronary calcifications for future cardiac events in asymptomatic patients with diabetes mellitus: A prospective study in 716 patients over 8 years 
Background
To establish an efficient prophylaxis of coronary artery disease reliable risk stratification is crucial, especially in the high risk population of patients suffering from diabetes mellitus. This prospective study determined the predictive value of coronary calcifications for future cardiovascular events in asymptomatic patients with diabetes mellitus.
Methods
We included 716 patients suffering from diabetes mellitus (430 men, 286 women, age 55.2 ± 15.2 years) in this study. On study entry all patients were asymptomatic and had no history of coronary artery disease. In addition, all patients showed no signs of coronary artery disease in ECG, stress ECG or echocardiography. Coronary calcifications were determined with the Imatron C 150 XP electron beam computed tomograph. For quantification of coronary calcifications we calculated the Agatston score. After a mean observation period of 8.1 ± 1.1 years patients were contacted and the event rate of cardiac death (CD) and myocardial infarction (MI) was determined.
Results
During the observation period 40 patients suffered from MI, 36 patients died from acute CD. The initial Agatston score in patients that suffered from MI or died from CD (475 ± 208) was significantly higher compared to those without cardiac events (236 ± 199, p < 0.01). An Agatston score above 400 was associated with a significantly higher annualised event rate for cardiovascular events (5.6% versus 0.7%, p < 0.01). No cardiac events were observed in patients with exclusion of coronary calcifications. Compared to the Framingham risk score and the UKPDS score the Agatston score showed a significantly higher diagnostic accuracy in the prediction of MI with an area under the ROC curve of 0.77 versus 0.68, and 0.71, respectively, p < 0.01.
Conclusion
By determination of coronary calcifications patients at risk for future MI and CD could be identified within an asymptomatic high risk group of patients suffering from diabetes mellitus. On the other hand future events could be excluded in patients without coronary calcifications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-27
PMCID: PMC2569906  PMID: 18847481
16.  Pocket Doppler and vascular laboratory equipment yield comparable results for ankle brachial index measurement 
Background
The ankle brachial index (ABI) is a well-established tool for screening and diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). In this study we assessed the validity of ABI determination using a pocket Doppler device compared with automatic vascular laboratory measurement in patients suspected of PAD.
Methods
Consecutive patients with symptoms of PAD referred for ABI measurement between December 2006 and August 2007 were included. Resting ABI was determined with a pocket Doppler, followed by ABI measurement with automatic vascular laboratory equipment, performed by an experienced vascular technician. The leg with the lowest ABI was used for analysis.
Results
From 99 patients the mean resting ABI was 0.80 measured with the pocket Doppler and 0.85 measured with vascular laboratory equipment. A Bland-Altman plot demonstrated great correspondence between the two methods. The mean difference between the two methods was 0.05 (P < .001). Multivariate linear regression analysis showed no dependency of the difference on either the average measured ABI or affected or unaffected leg.
Conclusion
Since the small, albeit statistically significant, difference between the two methods is not clinically relevant, our study demonstrates that ABI measurements with pocket Doppler and vascular laboratory equipment yield comparable results and can replace each other. Results support the use of the pocket Doppler for screening of PAD, allowing initiation of cardiovascular risk factor management in primary care, provided that the equipment operator is experienced.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-26
PMCID: PMC2567287  PMID: 18840278
17.  The CHOICE (Choice of Health Options In prevention of Cardiovascular Events) replication trial: study protocol 
Background
Although morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) are high, only a minority of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) survivors accesses an effective secondary prevention program. We aim to determine whether the previously proven CHOICE program can be replicated at multiple sites and whether ongoing reinforcement further improves risk factor modification.
Methods/design
Participants eligible for but not accessing standard cardiac rehabilitation will be randomly allocated to either a previously tested 3-month CHOICE program or a 30-month CHOICE program (CHOICE-plus). Both groups will participate in individualised risk factor modules of differing duration that involve choice, goal setting and telephone follow-up for three months. CHOICE-plus will also receive additional face-to-face and telephone reinforcement between three and 30 months. At one site we will recruit a randomised control group, receiving conventional care. Primary outcomes are lipid levels, blood pressure, physical activity levels and smoking rates. Secondary outcomes include readmission rates, death, the number of risk factors, other modifiable risk factors, quality of life and process evaluation measures over three years.
Discussion
We present the rationale and design of a multi-centre, replication study testing a modular approach for the secondary prevention of CHD following an ACS.
Trial Registration
[Clinical Trial Registration Number, ACTRN12608000182392]
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-25
PMCID: PMC2572037  PMID: 18838009
18.  The effect of long-term homocysteine-lowering on carotid intima-media thickness and flow-mediated vasodilation in stroke patients: a randomized controlled trial and meta-analysis 
Background
Experimental and epidemiological evidence suggests that homocysteine (tHcy) may be a causal risk factor for atherosclerosis. B-vitamin supplements reduce tHcy and improve endothelial function in short term trials, but the long-term effects of the treatment on vascular structure and function are unknown.
Methods
We conducted a sub-study of VITATOPS, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention trial designed to test the efficacy of long term B-vitamin supplementation (folic acid 2 mg, vitamin B6 25 mg and vitamin B12 0.5 mg) in the prevention of vascular events in patients with a history of stroke. We measured carotid intima-medial thickness (CIMT) and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) at least two years after randomisation in 162 VITATOPS participants. We also conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies designed to test the effect of B-vitamin treatment on CIMT and FMD.
Results
After a mean treatment period of 3.9 ± 0.9 years, the vitamin-treated group had a significantly lower mean plasma homocysteine concentration than the placebo-treated group (7.9 μmol/L, 95% CI 7.5 to 8.4 versus 11.8 μmol/L, 95% CI 10.9 to 12.8, p < 0.001). Post-treatment CIMT (0.84 ± 0.17 mm vitamins versus 0.83 ± 0.18 mm placebo, p = 0.74) and FMD (median of 4.0%, IQR 0.9 to 7.2 vitamins versus 3.0%, IQR 0.6 to 6.6 placebo, p = 0.48) did not differ significantly between groups. A meta-analysis of published randomised data, including those from the current study, suggested that B-vitamin supplements should reduce CIMT (-0.10 mm, 95% CI -0.20 to -0.01 mm) and increase FMD (1.4%, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.1%). However, the improvement in endothelial function associated with homocysteine-lowering treatment was significant in short-term studies but not in longer trials.
Conclusion
Although short-term treatment with B-vitamins is associated with increased FMD, long-term homocysteine-lowering did not significantly improve FMD or CIMT in people with a history of stroke.
Trial Registration
Clinical Trial Registration URL:
Trial Registration number: 12605000005651
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-24
PMCID: PMC2559819  PMID: 18803866
19.  Passive tobacco exposure may impair symptomatic improvement in patients with chronic angina undergoing enhanced external counterpulsation 
Background
The adverse effects of tobacco abuse on cardiovascular outcomes are well-known. However, the impact of passive smoke exposure on angina status and therapeutic response is less well-established. We examined the impact of second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure on symptomatic improvement in patients with chronic ischemic coronary disease undergoing enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP).
Methods
This observational study included 1,026 non-smokers (108 exposed and 918 not-exposed to SHS) from the Second International EECP Patient Registry. We also assessed angina response in 363 current smokers. Patient demographics, symptomatic improvement and quality of life assessment were determined by self-report prior and after EECP treatment.
Results
Non-smoking SHS subjects had a lower prevalence of prior revascularization (85% vs 90%), and had an increased prevalence of stroke (13% vs 7%) and prior smoking (72% vs 61%; all p < 0.05) compared to non-smokers without SHS exposure. Despite comparable degrees of coronary disease, baseline angina class, medical regimens and side effects during EECP, fewer SHS non-smokers completed a full 35-hour treatment course (77% vs 85%, p = 0.020) compared to non-smokers without SHS. Compared to non-smokers without SHS, non-smoking SHS subjects had less angina relief after EECP (angina class decreased ≥ 1 class: 68% vs 79%; p = 0.0082), both higher than that achieved in current smokers (66%). By multivariable logistic regression, SHS exposure was an independent predictor of failure to symptomatic improvement after EECP among non-smokers (OR 1.81, 95% confidence intervals 1.16–2.83).
Conclusion
Non-smokers with SHS exposure had an attenuated improvement in anginal symptoms compared to those without SHS following EECP.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-23
PMCID: PMC2553398  PMID: 18798998
20.  Does interhospital transfer improve outcome of acute myocardial infarction? A propensity score analysis from the Cardiovascular Cooperative Project 
Background
Many patients suffering acute myocardial infarction (AMI) are transferred from one hospital to another during their hospitalization. There is little information about the outcomes related to interhospital transfer. The purpose of this study was to compare processes and outcomes of AMI care among patients undergoing interhospital transfer with special attention to the impact on mortality in rural hospitals.
Methods
National sample of Medicare patients in the Cooperative Cardiovascular Study (n = 184,295). Retrospective structured medical record review of AMI hospitalizations. Descriptive study using a retrospective propensity score analysis of clinical and administrative data for 184,295 Medicare patients admitted with clinically confirmed AMI to 4,765 hospitals between February 1994 and July 1995. Main outcome measure included: 30-day mortality, administration of aspirin, beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors, and thrombolytic therapy.
Results
Overall, 51,530 (28%) patients underwent interhospital transfer. Transferred patients were significantly younger, less critically ill, and had lower comorbidity than non-transferred patients. After propensity-matching, patients who underwent interhospital transfer had better quality of care anlower mortality than non-transferred patients. Patients cared for in a rural hospital had similar mortality as patients cared for in an urban hospital.
Conclusion
Transferred patients were vastly different than non-transferred patients. However, even after a rigorous propensity-score analysis, transferred patients had lower mortality than non-transferred patients. Mortality was similar in rural and urban hospitals. Identifying patients who derive the greatest benefit from transfer may help physicians faced with the complex decision of whether to transfer a patient suffering an acute MI.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-22
PMCID: PMC2551582  PMID: 18782452
21.  Up-regulation of endothelin type B receptors in the human internal mammary artery in culture is dependent on protein kinase C and mitogen-activated kinase signaling pathways 
Background
Up-regulation of vascular endothelin type B (ETB) receptors is implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Culture of intact arteries has been shown to induce similar receptor alterations and has therefore been suggested as a suitable method for, ex vivo, in detail delineation of the regulation of endothelin receptors. We hypothesize that mitogen-activated kinases (MAPK) and protein kinase C (PKC) are involved in the regulation of endothelin ETB receptors in human internal mammary arteries.
Methods
Human internal mammary arteries were obtained during coronary artery bypass graft surgery and were studied before and after 24 hours of organ culture, using in vitro pharmacology, real time PCR and Western blot techniques. Sarafotoxin 6c and endothelin-1 were used to examine the endothelin ETA and ETB receptor effects, respectively. The involvement of PKC and MAPK in the endothelin receptor regulation was examined by culture in the presence of antagonists.
Results
The endohtelin-1-induced contraction (after endothelin ETB receptor desensitization) and the endothelin ETA receptor mRNA expression levels were not altered by culture. The sarafotoxin 6c contraction, endothelin ETB receptor protein and mRNA expression levels were increased after organ culture. This increase was antagonized by; (1) PKC inhibitors (10 μM bisindolylmaleimide I and 10 μM Ro-32-0432), and (2) inhibitors of the p38, extracellular signal related kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) and C-jun terminal kinase (JNK) MAPK pathways (10 μM SB203580, 10 μM PD98059 and 10 μM SP600125, respectively).
Conclusion
In conclusion, PKC and MAPK seem to be involved in the up-regulation of endothelin ETB receptor expression in human internal mammary arteries. Inhibiting these intracellular signal transduction pathways may provide a future therapeutic target for hindering the development of vascular endothelin ETB receptor changes in cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-21
PMCID: PMC2553399  PMID: 18778461
22.  Prevalence of prehypertension and its relationship to risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Jamaica: Analysis from a cross-sectional survey 
Background
Recent studies have documented an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in persons with systolic blood pressures of 120–139 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressures of 80–89 mmHg, classified as prehypertension in the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. In this paper we estimate the prevalence of prehypertension in Jamaica and evaluate the relationship between prehypertension and other risk factors for CVD.
Methods
The study used data from participants in the Jamaica Lifestyle Survey conducted from 2000–2001. A sample of 2012 persons, 15–74 years old, completed an interviewer administered questionnaire and had anthropometric and blood pressure measurements performed by trained observers using standardized procedures. Fasting glucose and total cholesterol were measured using a capillary blood sample. Analysis yielded crude, and sex-specific prevalence estimates for prehypertension and other CVD risk factors. Odds ratios for associations of prehypertension with CVD risk factors were obtained using logistic regression.
Results
The prevalence of prehypertension among Jamaicans was 30% (95% confidence interval [CI] 27%–33%). Prehypertension was more common in males, 35% (CI 31%–39%), than females, 25% (CI 22%–28%). Almost 46% of participants were overweight; 19.7% were obese; 14.6% had hypercholesterolemia; 7.2% had diabetes mellitus and 17.8% smoked cigarettes. With the exception of cigarette smoking and low physical activity, all the CVD risk factors had significantly higher prevalence in the prehypertensive and hypertensive groups (p for trend < 0.001) compared to the normotensive group. Odds of obesity, overweight, high cholesterol and increased waist circumference were significantly higher among younger prehypertensive participants (15–44 years-old) when compared to normotensive young participants, but not among those 45–74 years-old. Among men, being prehypertensive increased the odds of having >/=3 CVD risk factors versus no risk factors almost three-fold (odds ratio [OR] 2.8 [CI 1.1–7.2]) while among women the odds of >/=3 CVD risk factors was increased two-fold (OR 2.0 [CI 1.3–3.8])
Conclusion
Prehypertension occurs in 30% of Jamaicans and is associated with increased prevalence of other CVD risk factors. Health-care providers should recognize the increased CVD risk of prehypertension and should seek to identify and treat modifiable risk factors in these persons.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-20
PMCID: PMC2551581  PMID: 18752689
23.  Changes in clot lysis levels of reteplase and streptokinase following continuous wave ultrasound exposure, at ultrasound intensities following attenuation from the skull bone 
Background
Ultrasound (US) has been used to enhance thrombolytic therapy in the treatment of stroke. Considerable attenuation of US intensity is however noted if US is applied over the temporal bone. The aim of this study was therefore to explore possible changes in the effect of thrombolytic drugs during low-intensity, high-frequency continuous-wave ultrasound (CW-US) exposure.
Methods
Clots were made from fresh venous blood drawn from healthy volunteers. Each clot was made from 1.4 ml blood and left to coagulate for 1 hour in a plastic test-tube. The thrombolytic drugs used were, 3600 IU streptokinase (SK) or 0.25 U reteplase (r-PA), which were mixed in 160 ml 0.9% NaCl solution. Continuous-wave US exposure was applied at a frequency of 1 MHz and intensities ranging from 0.0125 to 1.2 W/cm2. For each thrombolytic drug (n = 2, SK and r-PA) and each intensity (n = 9) interventional clots (US-exposed, n = 6) were submerged in thrombolytic solution and exposed to CW-US while control clots (also submerged in thrombolytic solution, n = 6) were left unexposed to US.
To evaluate the effect on clot lysis, the haemoglobin (Hb) released from each clot was measured every 20 min for 1 hour (20, 40 and 60 min). The Hb content (mg) released was estimated by spectrophotometry at 540 nm. The difference in effect on clot lysis was expressed as the difference in the amount of Hb released between pairs of US-exposed clots and control clots. Statistical analysis was performed using Wilcoxon's signed rank test.
Results
Continuous-wave ultrasound significantly decreased the effects of SK at intensities of 0.9 and 1.2 W/cm2 at all times (P < 0.05). Continuous-wave ultrasound significantly increased the effects of r-PA on clot lysis following 20 min exposure at 0.9 W/cm2 and at 1.2 W/cm2, following 40 min exposure at 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 and at 1.2 W/cm2, and following 60 min of exposure at 0.05 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 and at 1.2 W/cm2 (all P < 0.05).
Conclusion
Increasing intensities of CW-US exposure resulted in increased clot lysis of r-PA-treated blood clots, but decreased clot lysis of SK-treated clots.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-19
PMCID: PMC2533283  PMID: 18727834
24.  Healthy Hearts – A community-based primary prevention programme to reduce coronary heart disease 
Background
The ten year probability of cardiovascular events can be calculated, but many people are unaware of their risk and unclear how to reduce it. The aim of this study was to assess whether a community based intervention, for men and women aged between 45 and 64 years without pre-existing coronary heart disease, would reduce their Framingham scores when reassessed one year later.
Methods
Individuals in the relevant age group from a defined geographical area were sent an invitation to attend for an assessment of their cardiovascular risk. Individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular disease or terminal illness were excluded. The invitation was in the form of a "Many Happy Returns" card with a number of self-screening questions including the question, "If you put the enclosed string around your waist, is it too short?" The card contained a red 80 cm piece of string in the case of women, or a green 90 cm piece of string in the case of men. At the assessment appointment, Framingham scores were calculated and a printout was given to each individual. Advice was provided for relevant risk factors identified using agreed guidelines. If appropriate, onward referral was also made to a GP, dietician, an exercise referral scheme, or to smoking cessation services, using a set of guidelines. Individuals were sent a second invitation one year later to return for re-assessment.
Results and discussion
2031 individuals were asked to self-assess their eligibility to participate, 596 individuals attended for assessment and 313 of these attended for follow-up one year later. The mean reduction in the Framingham risk score, was significantly lower at one year (0.876, 95% CI 0.211 to 1.541, p = 0.01). The mean 10-year risk of CHD at baseline was 13.14% (SD 9.18) and had fallen at follow-up to 12.34% (SD 8.71), a mean reduction of 6.7% of the initial 10-year Framingham risk. If sustained, the estimated NNT to prevent each year of CHD would be 1141 (95% CI 4739 to 649) individual appointments.
Conclusion
This community intervention for primary prevention of CHD reduces Framingham risk scores at one year in those who engage with the programme.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-18
PMCID: PMC2518127  PMID: 18655720
25.  Gender differences in trends of acute myocardial infarction events: The Northern Sweden MONICA study 1985 – 2004 
Background
The registration of non-fatal and fatal MI events initiated 1985 in the WHO MONICA project has been ongoing in northern Sweden since the end of the WHO project in 1995. The purpose of the present study was to analyze gender differences in first and recurrent events, case fatality and mortality in myocardial infarction (MI) in Northern Sweden during the 20-year period 1985 – 2004.
Methods
Diagnosed MI events in subjects aged 25–64 years in the Counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten were validated according to the MONICA protocol. The total number of events registered up to January 1, 2005 was 11,763: 9,387 in men and 2,376 in women.
Results
The proportion of male/female events has decreased from 5.5:1 to 3:1. For males the reductions were 30% and 70% for first and recurrent MI, respectively, and for women 0% and 40% in the 55–64 year group. For both sexes a 50% reduction in 28-day case fatality was seen in the 25–64 year-group. Mortality was reduced by 69% and 45% in men and women, respectively.
Conclusion
First and recurrent events of myocardial infarction was markedly reduced in men over the 20-year observation period, but for women the reduction was seen only for recurrent infarctions. Case fatality, on the other hand, was markedly reduced for both sexes. As a result of the positive effects on incidence and case fatality a substantial reduction was seen in total mortality, most pronounced for men.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-8-17
PMCID: PMC2507701  PMID: 18655697

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