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Concept: Aortic valve stenosis


OBJECTIVESThe Trifecta valve (St. Jude Medical) was introduced into clinical practice as a tri-leaflet stented pericardial valve designed for supra-annular placement in the aortic position. The present study aims to evaluate the preliminary results with this new bioprosthesis.METHODSSeventy patients underwent aortic valve replacement (AVR) with the Trifecta valve between August 2010 and December 2011. Thirty-three patients were male and 37 were female (52.9%). Mean age was 74.65 ± 7.63 (range 47-90 years). Prevalent cause of AVR was aortic stenosis in 64 (91.43%) patients. The mean preoperative pressure gradient was 50 ± 17 (range 20-84 mmHg), and the mean aortic valve area was 0.77 ± 0.33. Five (7.14%) patients were operated on due to aortic valve endocarditis. One patient was operated on due to isolated, severe aortic insufficiency. All patients were in New York Heart Association functional class III or IV. Twenty-eight (40%) patients underwent concomitant procedures.RESULTSConcomitant procedures were coronary artery bypass grafting (n = 25), mitral valve replacement (n = 1), ablation of atrial fibrillation (n = 1) and septal myomectomy (n = 1). There were no intraoperative deaths. The 30-day in-hospital mortality was 2.85% (2 of 70). One late death occurred during the in-hospital stay due to a multiorgan failure on postoperative day 60. There were 2 (2.85%) perioperative strokes. Mean pressure gradient decreased significantly from a preoperative value of 50 ± 17 mmHg to an intraoperative gradient of 9 ± 4 mmHg (Table 3). The mean gradients were 14, 11, 11, 8 and 6 mmHg for the 19, 21, 23, 25 and 27 mm valve size, respectively. No prosthesis dislocation, endocarditis, valve thrombosis or relevant aortic regurgitation was observed at discharge.CONCLUSIONSThe initial experience with the Trifecta valve bioprosthesis shows excellent outcomes with favourable early haemodynamics. Further studies with longer follow-up are needed to confirm those preliminary results.

Concepts: Cardiology, Heart, Mitral valve prolapse, Aortic valve, Valvular heart disease, Aortic valve stenosis, Aortic valve replacement, Aortic insufficiency


OBJECTIVE: Calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD) is a major public health problem with no effective treatment available other than surgery. We previously showed that mature heart valves calcify in response to retinoic acid (RA) treatment through downregulation of the SRY transcription factor Sox9. In this study, we investigated the effects of excess vitamin A and its metabolite RA on heart valve structure and function in vivo and examined the molecular mechanisms of RA signaling during the calcification process in vitro. METHODS AND RESULTS: Using a combination of approaches, we defined calcific aortic valve disease pathogenesis in mice fed 200 IU/g and 20 IU/g of retinyl palmitate for 12 months at molecular, cellular, and functional levels. We show that mice fed excess vitamin A develop aortic valve stenosis and leaflet calcification associated with increased expression of osteogenic genes and decreased expression of cartilaginous markers. Using a pharmacological approach, we show that RA-mediated Sox9 repression and calcification is regulated by classical RA signaling and requires both RA and retinoid X receptors. CONCLUSIONS: Our studies demonstrate that excess vitamin A dietary intake promotes heart valve calcification in vivo. Therefore suggesting that hypervitaminosis A could serve as a new risk factor of calcific aortic valve disease in the human population.

Concepts: Gene, In vitro, Aortic valve, Retinol, Vitamin A, Valvular heart disease, Valves, Aortic valve stenosis


About 1-2% of the babies are born with bicuspid aortic valves instead of the normal aortic valve with three leaflets. A significant portion of the patients with the congenital bicuspid valve morphology suffer from aortic valve stenosis and/or ascending aortic dilatation and dissection thus requiring surgical intervention when they are young adults. Patients with bicuspid aortic valves (BAVs) have also been found to develop valvular stenosis earlier than those with the normal aortic valve. This paper overviews current knowledge of BAVs, where several studies have suggested that the mechanical stresses induced on the valve leaflets and the abnormal flow development in the ascending aorta may be an important factor in the diseases of the valve and the aortic root. The long-term goals of the studies being performed in our laboratory are aimed towards potential stratification of bicuspid valve patients who may be at risk for developing these pathologies based on analyzing the hemodynamic environment of these valves using fluid-structure interaction (FSI) modeling. Patient-specific geometry of the normal tri-cuspid and bicuspid valves are reconstructed from real-time 3D ultrasound images and the dynamic analyses performed in order to determine the potential effects of mechanical stresses on the valve leaflet and aortic root pathology. This paper describes the details of the computational tools and discusses challenges with patient-specific modeling.

Concepts: Aortic dissection, Aorta, Ascending aorta, Left ventricle, Aortic valve, Aortic valve stenosis, Aortic insufficiency, Bicuspid aortic valve


The association between angiodysplasia and von Willebrand disease (VWD) has been known for more than 40 years. Bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract associated with angiodysplasia worsens the clinical course of this inherited haemorrhagic disorder and management may become difficult and challenging. Angiodysplasia associated with acquired defects or dysfunctions of von Willebrand factor (VWF) has also been reported in a variety of conditions such as monoclonal gammopathies, Heyde syndrome and in carriers of ventricular assist devices. The most recent advances concerning the mechanistic, clinical and therapeutic aspects of VWD-associated angiodysplasia are summarized in this review, together with the limitations of our knowledge that warrant further research in the frame of international cooperation.

Concepts: Platelet, Von Willebrand factor, Von Willebrand disease, Aortic valve stenosis, Heyde's syndrome


Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a less invasive option for treatment of high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis. We sought to identify patients at high risk for poor outcome after TAVR using a novel definition of outcome that integrates quality of life with mortality.

Concepts: Aortic valve stenosis


The efficacy of RADPAD ® (a sterile, lead–free drape) has been demonstrated to reduce the scatter radiation to the primary operator during fluoroscopic procedures. However, the use of the RADPAD ® during TAVI procedures has not been studied. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) is now an established treatment for patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis who are deemed inoperable or at high risk for conventional surgical aortic valve replacement (AVR). Consequently the radiation exposure to the patient and the interventional team from this procedure has become a matter of interest and importance. Methods to reduce radiation exposure to the interventional team during this procedure should be actively investigated.

Concepts: Radiology, Aortic valve stenosis


Aortic stenosis is the most common valve disease in Western countries, and its prevalence is increasing because of the aging population. Some patients, denied surgery because of high risk, can be offered transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI). These patients are old and have comorbidities, and it is not always easy for them to make the decision about accepting TAVI.

Concepts: Decision making, Death, Demography, Population, Risk, Decision theory, Aging, Aortic valve stenosis


Aims: To demonstrate the feasibility of the Leaflex™ Catheter System, a novel percutaneous device for fracturing valve calcification using mechanical impact in order to regain leaflet mobility. Methods and results: Radiographic analysis of calcium patterns in 90 ex vivo human aortic valve leaflets demonstrated that 82% of leaflets had a typical “bridge” or “half-bridge” pattern, which formed the basis for the catheter design. The therapeutic effect was quantified in 13 leaflets showing a reduction of 49±16% in leaflet resistance to folding after treatment. A pulsatile flow simulator was then used with 11 ex vivo valves demonstrating an increase in aortic valve area of 35±12%. Using gross pathology and histology on fresh calcified leaflets, we then verified that mechanical impacts do not entail excessive risk of embolisation. In vivo safety and usability were then confirmed in the ovine model. Conclusions: We demonstrated preclinically that it is feasible to improve valve function using the Leaflex™ technology. Once demonstrated clinically, such an approach may have an important role as preparation for or bridging to TAVI, as destination treatment for patients where TAVI is clinically or economically questionable and, in the future, maybe even as a means to slow disease progression in asymptomatic patients.

Concepts: In vivo, Demonstration, Aortic valve, Valvular heart disease, Calcification, Aortic valve stenosis, Leaflet, Gross examination


Evidence that elevated lipoprotein(a) (Lp[a]) levels contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and calcific aortic valve stenosis (CAVS) is substantial. Development of isoform-independent assays, in concert with genetic, epidemiological, translational, and pathophysiological insights, have established Lp(a) as an independent, genetic, and likely causal risk factor for CVD and CAVS. These observations are consistent across a broad spectrum of patients, risk factors, and concomitant therapies, including patients with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol <70 mg/dl. Statins tend to increase Lp(a) levels, possibly contributing to the "residual risk" noted in outcomes trials and at the bedside. Recently approved proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin-type 9 inhibitors and mipomersen lower Lp(a) 20% to 30%, and emerging RNA-targeted therapies lower Lp(a) >80%. These approaches will allow testing of the “Lp(a) hypothesis” in clinical trials. This review summarizes the current landscape of Lp(a), discusses controversies, and reviews emerging therapies to reduce plasma Lp(a) levels to decrease risk of CVD and CAVS.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Atherosclerosis, The Canon of Medicine, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Avicenna, Aortic valve stenosis, Risk factor


Background Previous trials have shown that among high-risk patients with aortic stenosis, survival rates are similar with transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR) and surgical aortic-valve replacement. We evaluated the two procedures in a randomized trial involving intermediate-risk patients. Methods We randomly assigned 2032 intermediate-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis, at 57 centers, to undergo either TAVR or surgical replacement. The primary end point was death from any cause or disabling stroke at 2 years. The primary hypothesis was that TAVR would not be inferior to surgical replacement. Before randomization, patients were entered into one of two cohorts on the basis of clinical and imaging findings; 76.3% of the patients were included in the transfemoral-access cohort and 23.7% in the transthoracic-access cohort. Results The rate of death from any cause or disabling stroke was similar in the TAVR group and the surgery group (P=0.001 for noninferiority). At 2 years, the Kaplan-Meier event rates were 19.3% in the TAVR group and 21.1% in the surgery group (hazard ratio in the TAVR group, 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.73 to 1.09; P=0.25). In the transfemoral-access cohort, TAVR resulted in a lower rate of death or disabling stroke than surgery (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.62 to 1.00; P=0.05), whereas in the transthoracic-access cohort, outcomes were similar in the two groups. TAVR resulted in larger aortic-valve areas than did surgery and also resulted in lower rates of acute kidney injury, severe bleeding, and new-onset atrial fibrillation; surgery resulted in fewer major vascular complications and less paravalvular aortic regurgitation. Conclusions In intermediate-risk patients, TAVR was similar to surgical aortic-valve replacement with respect to the primary end point of death or disabling stroke. (Funded by Edwards Lifesciences; PARTNER 2 number, NCT01314313 .).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Medical terms, Atrial fibrillation, Surgery, Randomness, Atrial flutter, Blood transfusion, Aortic valve stenosis