The latest medical research on Cardiology

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Highlights from Selected Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Studies Presented at the 2019 European Society of Cardiology Congress.

European Heart Journal

This review intends to highlight selected cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention studies presented at the 2019 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress.

Results from the Inclisiran for Subjects with ASCVD or ASCVD-risk Equivalent and Elevated Low-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (ORION-11) trial validate inclisiran's ability to significantly lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels in at-risk individuals on a background of maximally tolerated statin therapy. The EVOlocumab for Early Reduction of LDL-cholesterol Levels in Patients With Acute Coronary Syndromes (EVOPACS) trial provide additional support that a PCSK9 inhibitor can be initiated safely and effectively early after an acute coronary syndrome. A sub-study of the Evaluation of Cardiovascular Outcomes After an Acute Coronary Syndrome During Treatment With Alirocumab (ODYSSEY OUTCOMES) trial provides further support for stratification of secondary prevention patients to help define the magnitude of risk reduction associated with PCSK9 inhibitor therapy. A post hoc analysis from the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial suggest that any benefits associated with aspirin utilizing a risk-based approach are overwhelmed by increased bleeding risk. In a large retrospective cohort study of patients with diabetes mellitus and obesity, the addition of metabolic (weight loss) surgery to standard care led to greater improvement in CVD outcomes, weight loss, and glycemic control. Results from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study demonstrate that while hypertension and dyslipidemia exert additive lifelong effects on CVD risk, other less established risk factors such as low education, household pollution, and poor diet also have a strong impact on CVD outcomes, especially in middle- and low-income countries. Finally, in the Heart Outcomes Prevention and Evaluation (HOPE) 4 trial, a comprehensive model of care adapted to address multiple barriers of specific communities led to substantial improved blood pressure (BP) control, medication use, and adherence. A number of studies presented at the 2019 ESC Congress reinforced the value of preventative interventions in CVD risk reduction.

Assessment of quality of care of patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction.

European Heart Journal

The 2017 European Society of Cardiology guidelines for the management of ST-elevation myocardial infarction recommended assessing quality of care to establish measurable quality indicators in order to ensure that every ST-elevation myocardial infarction patient receives the best possible care. We investigated the quality indicators of healthcare services in Poland provided to ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients.

The Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes is a nationwide, multicentre, prospective study of acute coronary syndrome patients in Poland. For the purpose of assessing quality indicators, we included 8279 patients from the Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes hospitalised with ST-elevation myocardial infarction in 2018. Four hundred and eight of 8279 patients (4.9%) arrived at percutaneous coronary intervention centre by self-transport, 4791 (57.9%) arrived at percutaneous coronary intervention centre by direct emergency medical system transport, and 2900 (37.2%) were transferred from non-percutaneous coronary intervention facilities. Whilst 95.1% of ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients arriving in the first 12 h received reperfusion therapy, the rates of timely reperfusion were much lower (ranging from 39.4% to 55.0% for various ST-elevation myocardial infarction pathways). The median left ventricular ejection fraction was 46% and was assessed before discharge in 86.0% of patients. Four hundred and eighty-nine of 8279 patients (5.9%) died during hospital stay. Optimal medical therapy is prescribed in 50-85% of patients depending on various clinical settings. Only one in two ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients is enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program at discharge. No patient-reported outcomes were recorded in the Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes.

The results of this study identified areas of healthcare system that require solid improvement. These include direct transport to percutaneous coronary intervention centre, timely reperfusion, guidelines-based medical therapy (in particular in patients with heart failure), referral to cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs. Also, there is a need for recording quality indicators associated with patient-reported outcomes.

Early signs of right ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction in acute severe respiratory failure: the importance of diastolic restrictive pattern.

European Heart Journal

The incidence and pathophysiology of right ventricular failure in patients with severe respiratory insufficiency has been largely investigated. However, there is a lack of early signs suggesting right ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction prior to acute cor pulmonale development.

We conducted a retrospective analytical cohort study of patients for acute respiratory distress syndrome undertaking an echocardiography during admission in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit. Patients were divided according to treatment: conventional protective ventilation (38 patients, 38%); interventional lung assist (23 patients, 23%); veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (37 patients, 37%). Systolic and diastolic function was studied assessing, respectively: right ventricular systolic longitudinal function (tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion) and systolic contraction duration (tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion length); right ventricular diastolic filling time and right ventricular diastolic restrictive pattern (presence of pulmonary valve presystolic ejection wave). Correlation between the respiratory mechanics and systo-diastolic parameters were analysed.

In 98 patients studied, systolic dysfunction (tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion <16 mm) was present in 33.6% while diastolic restrictive pattern was present in 64%. A negative correlation was found between tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion and tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion length (P<0.0001; r -0.42). Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion and tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion length correlated with right ventricular diastolic filling time (P<0.001; r -0.39). Pulmonary valve presystolic ejection wave was associated with tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (P<0.0001), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion length (P<0.0001), right ventricular diastolic filling time (P<0.0001), positive end-expiratory pressure (P<0.0001) and peak inspiratory pressure (P<0.0001).

Diastolic restrictive pattern is present in a remarkable percentage of patients with respiratory distress syndrome. Bedside echocardiography allows a mechanistic evaluation of systolic and diastolic interaction of the right ventricle.

Congenital aneurysm of the left atrium associated with double-outlet right ventricle in a trisomy-18 fetus: Case report and literature review.


Congenital aneurysm of the left atrium is a rare cardiac anomaly, most commonly detected between the 2nd and 4th decades of life in a symptomatic p...

Independent parameters of left atrium function in hypertensive heart disease.


The left atrium reservoir function has an important role in the global cardiac performance and is determined by multiple cardiac and extra-cardiac factors. A new parameter is introduced, the independent strain, which quantifies left atrium reservoir phase deformation during isovolumetric relaxation.

Is evaluated whether independent strain can identify intrinsic atrial myocardial damage in hypertension.

Prospective observational study in which echocardiography was done to 50 hypertensive patients and 80 healthy volunteers. Myocardial deformation was evaluated with two-dimensional speckle tracking and left atrium volumes were calculated whit 3D-echocardiography.

In hypertensive patients, the indexed left atrium volume was greater than in the control group (34 ± 7.8 vs 24 ± 4.9 mL/m2 ); strain of pump (-5.7 ± 2.4% vs -17±3.5%) and reservoir phases (34 ± 9% vs 48 ± 10%) were worst. The minimum left atrium volume was higher (26 ± 10 vs 15 ± 8 mL) and left atrium independent strain was lower in hypertensive patients (4.0% vs 6.5%, P = .001). Left atrium independent strain only correlated with minimum left atrium volume (r = -.31, P = .048).

Independent strain can identify atrial myocyte contractile dysfunction in hypertension given the relative absence of hemodynamic loads during this period. Additionally, quantification of left atrium minimum volume suggests indirectly the presence of atrial myocyte contractile dysfunction.

The evaluation of right ventricular systolic function in patients with repaired Tetralogy of Fallot by conventional echocardiographic methods and speckle tracking echocardiography: Compared with the gold standard cardiac mangenetic resonance.


Right ventricular (RV) function is one of the important prognostic factors in patients with repaired Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). We aimed to assess RV function by conventional echocardiography and two-dimensional speckle tracking echocardiography (2D-STE) in patients with repaired TOF.

Twenty-seven (male 17) adolescents and young adult patients (mean age 22.7 ± 6.7 years) operated on for TOF and age- and gender-matched healthy controls were included. RV systolic function in both groups were evaluated by fractional area change (FAC), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE), RV myocardial performance index (RVMPI) and tricuspid annular peak systolic velocity by pulsed tissue Doppler (tricuspid S'), and also RV global longitudinal strain (RV GLS) obtained from STE. These results were compared with RV ejection fraction (RVEF) measured by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI) performed within 3 months in patient group.

Systolic RVGLS values were significantly lower in patients compared to controls (-17.4 ± 3.1% vs -25.6 ± 3%). Among the echocardiographic parameters, RVGLS had the best correlation with RV EF derived from CMRI (r: -.6). By receiver operating characteristics analysis (ROC), an RV GLS cutoff value of -17.4% had 75% sensitivity and 68.4% specificity in identifying RVEF <45% with an area under curve 0.743 (P < .05). The intra- and inter-observer agreement for RV GLS was excellent.

RVGLS is an easy, effective, feasible, and reproducible tool in the evaluation of RV systolic function. So, RVGLS measurement by STE may be one of the routine echocardiographic parameters in the evaluation of RV systolic function in patients with repaired TOF.

Carotid artery blood velocity decreases in patients with coronary slow flow: A manifestation of systemic arteriosclerosis.


Coronary slow flow phenomenon (CSFP) could be a manifestation of systemic arteriosclerosis, as coronary and carotid arteries have similar intimal thickening. However, as an initial cause of arteriosclerosis, hemodynamic changes in carotid arteries have rarely been studied.

Twenty patients with angiography-proven CSFP and 39 patients with normal coronary flow (NCF) were enrolled. TIMI frame counts (CTFC) were investigated. Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), peak systolic velocity (PSV), and end-diastolic velocity (EDV) were measured by ultrasonography, and shear rate (SR) and resistance index (RI) were calculated.

The results showed that PSV, EDV, SR, and RI were significantly lower in patients with CSFP (p<0.01), but CIMT was significantly increased (P < 0.01). PSV, EDV, SR, and RI were negatively correlated with CTFC, while CIMT was positively correlated with CTFC. Logistic regression analysis revealed that PSV (OR = 0.95, P < 0.01) could be an independent protective factor against CSFP, but CIMT (OR = 1.10, P < 0.05) and male gender (OR = 9.89, P < 0.01) could be risk factors for CSFP.

The slow flow phenomenon was observed in both coronary and carotid arteries, which could be a characteristic manifestation of systemic arteriosclerosis in CSFP; the lower wall shear stress may be the underlying mechanism. Carotid ultrasound could be applied in the noninvasive diagnosis of CSFP in the future.

The evaluation of diastolic function and myocardial performance index during pregnancy: A tissue Doppler echocardiography study.


The pregnancy process is characterized by several changes in the cardiovascular system, especially in left ventricle (LV) systolic and diastolic function. Tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) is a useful tool to evaluate global LV function. This study investigated changes in LV functions using TDI in third-trimester pregnant women.

A total of 86 consecutive third-trimester healthy pregnant women and 40 age-matched nonpregnant healthy women (control group) were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. LV diameter, standard Doppler and tissue Doppler parameters, and myocardial performance index (MPI) were measured for all patients.

There was no significant difference in baseline characteristics between the pregnant and control groups. However, the cardiac chamber diameter was larger, the Am velocity was higher, and the E velocity, Em velocity, and E/A ratio were lower in the pregnant group. In addition, the MPI was significantly higher in the pregnant group compared to the control group (0.57 ± 0.11 vs 0.42 ± 0.02, P < .001). Correlation analysis showed that gestational week was positively correlated with the MPI (r = .407, P = .003).

Detailed assessment of cardiac function is important during pregnancy. We demonstrated that pregnancy was associated with a significantly increased MPI, as well as structural and functional changes.

Myocardial deformation and acute cellular rejection after heart transplantation: Impact of inter-vendor variability in diagnostic effectiveness.


Our objective was to investigate the impact of inter-vendor variability in the ability of myocardial strain analysis to detect acute cellular rejection (ACR) in heart transplant recipients.

We performed serial echocardiographic examinations in 18 consecutive adult heart transplanted patients, in their first year post-transplantation, within 3 hours of the routine surveillance endomyocardial biopsies (EMB) in a single center. Myocardial strain was analyzed using two software in two different institutions, and inter-vendor variability of strain values and its association with ACR (any grade or grade ≥2R) was investigated. The parameter of comparison was the peak value of the average curve of strain during the entire cardiac cycle.

A total of 147 pairs of EMB-echocardiogram were performed, 65 with no ACR, 63 with ACR grade 1R, and 19 with ACR grade ≥2R. Intra-class correlation coefficients for left ventricle longitudinal, radial, and circumferential strain were 0.38, 0.39, and 0.77, respectively, and 0.32 for right ventricular longitudinal strain. Neither software found significant association of left ventricular longitudinal strain with rejection. Grade ≥2R ACR was associated with left ventricular circumferential strain measured with the first software and with left ventricular radial strain with the other; and ACR of any grade was only significantly associated with right ventricle longitudinal strain measured with the first software.

Inter-vendor reproducibility of strain values was low in this study. Some strain parameters were associated to ACR, although these results were inconsistent between two commercially available software. Specific validation of each software is warranted for this clinical indication.

Multimodality imaging of an aortic graft infection.


Aortic prosthetic vascular graft infections (PVGI) are rare complications of the aortic surgery, with an incidence of 0.5%-6%. Although rare, they ...

"An imprisoned heart" arrested by pillory of calcified ring surrounding both ventricles: An extremely rare case of constrictive pericarditis.


We report the case of a 63-year-old man who was admitted to our hospital due to progressive dyspnea and leg edema. Echocardiography and cardiac com...

Common carotid artery kinking is a predictor of cardiovascular events: A long-term follow-up study using carotid ultrasonography.


Kinking of the internal carotid artery is a cardiovascular (CV) risk factor. However, it remains unclear as to whether kinking of the common carotid artery (CCA) can also predict CV events. We conducted a long-term follow-up study to examine whether CCA kinking as assessed by carotid ultrasonography is a predictor of CV events in asymptomatic patients with CV risk factors.

We enrolled 598 patients (mean age, 66.8 ± 11.8 years) who were divided into two groups according to CCA kinking severity: kinking of 0-29° (Group I); and kinking at ≥30° (Group II). We assessed whether CCA kinking predicts CV events during follow-up.

A total of 91 CV events were observed during the follow-up period (median, 124 months). Hypertension (P < .0001), prior CV events (P < .0001), CCA kinking (P < .0001), intima-media thickness (P < .0001), and max plaque score (P < .0001) were significantly higher in patients with CV events than those without. The age-adjusted hazard ratio of CCA kinking for CV events was 3.42 (95% CI: 2.2-5.3) in Group II compared to Group I. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis revealed that CCA kinking (HR: 3.02, 95% CI: 1.97-4.67), prior CV events (HR: 2.53 95% CI: 1.604.00), hypertension (HR: 2.19 95% CI: 1.17-4.57), and age (HR: 1.04, 95% CI: 1.02-1.07) were independent predictors of CV events.

CCA kinking is a powerful independent predictor of CV events in asymptomatic patients with CV risk factors.