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Concept: Atherosclerosis


Background Observational cohort studies and a secondary prevention trial have shown an inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk. We conducted a randomized trial of this diet pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events. Methods In a multicenter trial in Spain, we randomly assigned participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, but with no cardiovascular disease at enrollment, to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet (advice to reduce dietary fat). Participants received quarterly individual and group educational sessions and, depending on group assignment, free provision of extra-virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, or small nonfood gifts. The primary end point was the rate of major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes). On the basis of the results of an interim analysis, the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 4.8 years. Results A total of 7447 persons were enrolled (age range, 55 to 80 years); 57% were women. The two Mediterranean-diet groups had good adherence to the intervention, according to self-reported intake and biomarker analyses. A primary end-point event occurred in 288 participants. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios were 0.70 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 0.92) and 0.72 (95% CI, 0.54 to 0.96) for the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil (96 events) and the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with nuts (83 events), respectively, versus the control group (109 events). No diet-related adverse effects were reported. Conclusions Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. (Funded by the Spanish government’s Instituto de Salud Carlos III and others; number, ISRCTN35739639 .).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Fat, Olive oil, Greece, Mediterranean diet


Background Both genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to individual-level risk of coronary artery disease. The extent to which increased genetic risk can be offset by a healthy lifestyle is unknown. Methods Using a polygenic score of DNA sequence polymorphisms, we quantified genetic risk for coronary artery disease in three prospective cohorts - 7814 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, 21,222 in the Women’s Genome Health Study (WGHS), and 22,389 in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study (MDCS) - and in 4260 participants in the cross-sectional BioImage Study for whom genotype and covariate data were available. We also determined adherence to a healthy lifestyle among the participants using a scoring system consisting of four factors: no current smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet. Results The relative risk of incident coronary events was 91% higher among participants at high genetic risk (top quintile of polygenic scores) than among those at low genetic risk (bottom quintile of polygenic scores) (hazard ratio, 1.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75 to 2.09). A favorable lifestyle (defined as at least three of the four healthy lifestyle factors) was associated with a substantially lower risk of coronary events than an unfavorable lifestyle (defined as no or only one healthy lifestyle factor), regardless of the genetic risk category. Among participants at high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a 46% lower relative risk of coronary events than an unfavorable lifestyle (hazard ratio, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.47 to 0.63). This finding corresponded to a reduction in the standardized 10-year incidence of coronary events from 10.7% for an unfavorable lifestyle to 5.1% for a favorable lifestyle in ARIC, from 4.6% to 2.0% in WGHS, and from 8.2% to 5.3% in MDCS. In the BioImage Study, a favorable lifestyle was associated with significantly less coronary-artery calcification within each genetic risk category. Conclusions Across four studies involving 55,685 participants, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with susceptibility to coronary artery disease. Among participants at high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50% lower relative risk of coronary artery disease than was an unfavorable lifestyle. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).

Concepts: Genetics, Epidemiology, Nutrition, Atherosclerosis, Angina pectoris, Coronary artery disease, Atheroma, Artery


As multiple spacefaring nations contemplate extended manned missions to Mars and the Moon, health risks could be elevated as travel goes beyond the Earth’s protective magnetosphere into the more intense deep space radiation environment. The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, accidents and all other causes of death differ in (1) astronauts who never flew orbital missions in space, (2) astronauts who flew only in low Earth orbit (LEO), and (3) Apollo lunar astronauts, the only humans to have traveled beyond Earth’s magnetosphere. Results show there were no differences in CVD mortality rate between non-flight (9%) and LEO (11%) astronauts. However, the CVD mortality rate among Apollo lunar astronauts (43%) was 4-5 times higher than in non-flight and LEO astronauts. To test a possible mechanistic basis for these findings, a secondary purpose was to determine the long-term effects of simulated weightlessness and space-relevant total-body irradiation on vascular responsiveness in mice. The results demonstrate that space-relevant irradiation induces a sustained vascular endothelial cell dysfunction. Such impairment is known to lead to occlusive artery disease, and may be an important risk factor for CVD among astronauts exposed to deep space radiation.

Concepts: Mortality rate, Atherosclerosis, Earth's magnetic field, Earth, Blood vessel, Moon, Endothelium, Human spaceflight


Background The most appropriate targets for systolic blood pressure to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among persons without diabetes remain uncertain. Methods We randomly assigned 9361 persons with a systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or higher and an increased cardiovascular risk, but without diabetes, to a systolic blood-pressure target of less than 120 mm Hg (intensive treatment) or a target of less than 140 mm Hg (standard treatment). The primary composite outcome was myocardial infarction, other acute coronary syndromes, stroke, heart failure, or death from cardiovascular causes. Results At 1 year, the mean systolic blood pressure was 121.4 mm Hg in the intensive-treatment group and 136.2 mm Hg in the standard-treatment group. The intervention was stopped early after a median follow-up of 3.26 years owing to a significantly lower rate of the primary composite outcome in the intensive-treatment group than in the standard-treatment group (1.65% per year vs. 2.19% per year; hazard ratio with intensive treatment, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64 to 0.89; P<0.001). All-cause mortality was also significantly lower in the intensive-treatment group (hazard ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.90; P=0.003). Rates of serious adverse events of hypotension, syncope, electrolyte abnormalities, and acute kidney injury or failure, but not of injurious falls, were higher in the intensive-treatment group than in the standard-treatment group. Conclusions Among patients at high risk for cardiovascular events but without diabetes, targeting a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg, as compared with less than 140 mm Hg, resulted in lower rates of fatal and nonfatal major cardiovascular events and death from any cause, although significantly higher rates of some adverse events were observed in the intensive-treatment group. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; number, NCT01206062 .).

Concepts: Blood, Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, Stroke, Blood pressure, Artery, Orthostatic hypotension


It is well known that total cholesterol becomes less of a risk factor or not at all for all-cause and cardiovascular (CV) mortality with increasing age, but as little is known as to whether low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), one component of total cholesterol, is associated with mortality in the elderly, we decided to investigate this issue.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Atheroma, Niacin


Background Evolocumab is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits proprotein convertase subtilisin-kexin type 9 (PCSK9) and lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by approximately 60%. Whether it prevents cardiovascular events is uncertain. Methods We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 27,564 patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and LDL cholesterol levels of 70 mg per deciliter (1.8 mmol per liter) or higher who were receiving statin therapy. Patients were randomly assigned to receive evolocumab (either 140 mg every 2 weeks or 420 mg monthly) or matching placebo as subcutaneous injections. The primary efficacy end point was the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, hospitalization for unstable angina, or coronary revascularization. The key secondary efficacy end point was the composite of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or stroke. The median duration of follow-up was 2.2 years. Results At 48 weeks, the least-squares mean percentage reduction in LDL cholesterol levels with evolocumab, as compared with placebo, was 59%, from a median baseline value of 92 mg per deciliter (2.4 mmol per liter) to 30 mg per deciliter (0.78 mmol per liter) (P<0.001). Relative to placebo, evolocumab treatment significantly reduced the risk of the primary end point (1344 patients [9.8%] vs. 1563 patients [11.3%]; hazard ratio, 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79 to 0.92; P<0.001) and the key secondary end point (816 [5.9%] vs. 1013 [7.4%]; hazard ratio, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.88; P<0.001). The results were consistent across key subgroups, including the subgroup of patients in the lowest quartile for baseline LDL cholesterol levels (median, 74 mg per deciliter [1.9 mmol per liter]). There was no significant difference between the study groups with regard to adverse events (including new-onset diabetes and neurocognitive events), with the exception of injection-site reactions, which were more common with evolocumab (2.1% vs. 1.6%). Conclusions In our trial, inhibition of PCSK9 with evolocumab on a background of statin therapy lowered LDL cholesterol levels to a median of 30 mg per deciliter (0.78 mmol per liter) and reduced the risk of cardiovascular events. These findings show that patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease benefit from lowering of LDL cholesterol levels below current targets. (Funded by Amgen; FOURIER number, NCT01764633 .).

Concepts: Cholesterol, Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Statin, Atheroma, Apolipoprotein B


Background Child-parent screening for familial hypercholesterolemia has been proposed to identify persons at high risk for inherited premature cardiovascular disease. We assessed the efficacy and feasibility of such screening in primary care practice. Methods We obtained capillary blood samples to measure cholesterol levels and to test for familial hypercholesterolemia mutations in 10,095 children 1 to 2 years of age during routine immunization visits. Children were considered to have positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia if their cholesterol level was elevated and they had either a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation or a repeat elevated cholesterol level 3 months later. A parent of each child with a positive screening result for familial hypercholesterolemia was considered to have a positive screening result for familial hypercholesterolemia if he or she had the same mutation as the child or, if no mutations were identified, had the higher cholesterol level of the two parents. Results The use of a prespecified cholesterol cutoff value of 1.53 multiples of the median (MoM, corresponding to a percentile of 99.2) identified 28 children who had positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia (0.3% of the 10,095 children; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2 to 0.4), including 20 with a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation and 8 with a repeat cholesterol level of at least 1.53 MoM. A total of 17 children who had a cholesterol level of less than 1.53 MoM also had a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation. The overall mutation prevalence was 1 in 273 children (37 in 10,095; 95% CI, 1 in 198 to 1 in 388). The use of an initial cholesterol cutoff value of 1.35 MoM (95th percentile) plus a mutation, or two cholesterol values of at least 1.50 MoM (99th percentile), identified 40 children who had positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia (0.4% of the 10,095 children, including 32 children who had a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation and 8 who did not have the mutation) and 40 parents who had positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia. Conclusions Child-parent screening was feasible in primary care practices at routine child immunization visits. For every 1000 children screened, 8 persons (4 children and 4 parents) were identified as having positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia and were consequently at high risk for cardiovascular disease. (Funded by the Medical Research Council.).

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Genetic disorder, Mutation, Atherosclerosis, Median, Mother, Hypercholesterolemia


Objectives To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease at higher resolution by examining the initial lifetime presentation of 12 cardiac, cerebrovascular, abdominal, or peripheral vascular diseases among five categories of consumption.Design Population based cohort study of linked electronic health records covering primary care, hospital admissions, and mortality in 1997-2010 (median follow-up six years).Setting CALIBER (ClinicAl research using LInked Bespoke studies and Electronic health Records).Participants 1 937 360 adults (51% women), aged ≥30 who were free from cardiovascular disease at baseline.Main outcome measures 12 common symptomatic manifestations of cardiovascular disease, including chronic stable angina, unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction, unheralded coronary heart disease death, heart failure, sudden coronary death/cardiac arrest, transient ischaemic attack, ischaemic stroke, intracerebral and subarachnoid haemorrhage, peripheral arterial disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm.Results 114 859 individuals received an incident cardiovascular diagnosis during follow-up. Non-drinking was associated with an increased risk of unstable angina (hazard ratio 1.33, 95% confidence interval 1.21 to 1.45), myocardial infarction (1.32, 1.24 to1.41), unheralded coronary death (1.56, 1.38 to 1.76), heart failure (1.24, 1.11 to 1.38), ischaemic stroke (1.12, 1.01 to 1.24), peripheral arterial disease (1.22, 1.13 to 1.32), and abdominal aortic aneurysm (1.32, 1.17 to 1.49) compared with moderate drinking (consumption within contemporaneous UK weekly/daily guidelines of 21/3 and 14/2 units for men and women, respectively). Heavy drinking (exceeding guidelines) conferred an increased risk of presenting with unheralded coronary death (1.21, 1.08 to 1.35), heart failure (1.22, 1.08 to 1.37), cardiac arrest (1.50, 1.26 to 1.77), transient ischaemic attack (1.11, 1.02 to 1.37), ischaemic stroke (1.33, 1.09 to 1.63), intracerebral haemorrhage (1.37, 1.16 to 1.62), and peripheral arterial disease (1.35; 1.23 to 1.48), but a lower risk of myocardial infarction (0.88, 0.79 to 1.00) or stable angina (0.93, 0.86 to 1.00).Conclusions Heterogeneous associations exist between level of alcohol consumption and the initial presentation of cardiovascular diseases. This has implications for counselling patients, public health communication, and clinical research, suggesting a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in prevention of cardiovascular disease is necessary.Registration (NCT01864031).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Angina pectoris, Cardiology, Heart, Cardiovascular disease, Stroke, Cardiovascular diseases


Background Canagliflozin is a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor that reduces glycemia as well as blood pressure, body weight, and albuminuria in people with diabetes. We report the effects of treatment with canagliflozin on cardiovascular, renal, and safety outcomes. Methods The CANVAS Program integrated data from two trials involving a total of 10,142 participants with type 2 diabetes and high cardiovascular risk. Participants in each trial were randomly assigned to receive canagliflozin or placebo and were followed for a mean of 188.2 weeks. The primary outcome was a composite of death from cardiovascular causes, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke. Results The mean age of the participants was 63.3 years, 35.8% were women, the mean duration of diabetes was 13.5 years, and 65.6% had a history of cardiovascular disease. The rate of the primary outcome was lower with canagliflozin than with placebo (occurring in 26.9 vs. 31.5 participants per 1000 patient-years; hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75 to 0.97; P<0.001 for noninferiority; P=0.02 for superiority). Although on the basis of the prespecified hypothesis testing sequence the renal outcomes are not viewed as statistically significant, the results showed a possible benefit of canagliflozin with respect to the progression of albuminuria (hazard ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.79) and the composite outcome of a sustained 40% reduction in the estimated glomerular filtration rate, the need for renal-replacement therapy, or death from renal causes (hazard ratio, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.47 to 0.77). Adverse reactions were consistent with the previously reported risks associated with canagliflozin except for an increased risk of amputation (6.3 vs. 3.4 participants per 1000 patient-years; hazard ratio, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.41 to 2.75); amputations were primarily at the level of the toe or metatarsal. Conclusions In two trials involving patients with type 2 diabetes and an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, patients treated with canagliflozin had a lower risk of cardiovascular events than those who received placebo but a greater risk of amputation, primarily at the level of the toe or metatarsal. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; CANVAS and CANVAS-R numbers, NCT01032629 and NCT01989754 , respectively.).

Concepts: Renal failure, Statistics, Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Cardiovascular diseases


Background Loss-of-function variants in the angiopoietin-like 3 gene (ANGPTL3) have been associated with decreased plasma levels of triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It is not known whether such variants or therapeutic antagonism of ANGPTL3 are associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Methods We sequenced the exons of ANGPTL3 in 58,335 participants in the DiscovEHR human genetics study. We performed tests of association for loss-of-function variants in ANGPTL3 with lipid levels and with coronary artery disease in 13,102 case patients and 40,430 controls from the DiscovEHR study, with follow-up studies involving 23,317 case patients and 107,166 controls from four population studies. We also tested the effects of a human monoclonal antibody, evinacumab, against Angptl3 in dyslipidemic mice and against ANGPTL3 in healthy human volunteers with elevated levels of triglycerides or LDL cholesterol. Results In the DiscovEHR study, participants with heterozygous loss-of-function variants in ANGPTL3 had significantly lower serum levels of triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol than participants without these variants. Loss-of-function variants were found in 0.33% of case patients with coronary artery disease and in 0.45% of controls (adjusted odds ratio, 0.59; 95% confidence interval, 0.41 to 0.85; P=0.004). These results were confirmed in the follow-up studies. In dyslipidemic mice, inhibition of Angptl3 with evinacumab resulted in a greater decrease in atherosclerotic lesion area and necrotic content than a control antibody. In humans, evinacumab caused a dose-dependent placebo-adjusted reduction in fasting triglyceride levels of up to 76% and LDL cholesterol levels of up to 23%. Conclusions Genetic and therapeutic antagonism of ANGPTL3 in humans and of Angptl3 in mice was associated with decreased levels of all three major lipid fractions and decreased odds of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. (Funded by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and others; number, NCT01749878 .).

Concepts: Cholesterol, Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Low-density lipoprotein, Atheroma, Niacin, High-density lipoprotein