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Journal: Herz


BACKGROUND: Atrial fibrillation (AF) recurrence after ablation is difficult to predict. The development of AF is associated with inflammation, and inflammatory markers such as big endothelin-1 (big ET-1) reflect inflammatory status. It is unknown, however, whether big ET-1 can be used as a predictor for AF recurrence. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between plasma levels of big ET-1 and AF recurrence. METHODS: A total of 158 patients who had undergone primary ablation for symptomatic and/or drug-refractory AF, including 103 with paroxysmal and 55 with persistent AF, were included in this study. Left atrial diameter was measured with echocardiography and plasma big ET-1 levels with ELISA. All patients were followed up for at least 12 months and AF recurrence defined as an episode of AF lasting ≥ 30 s, with or without atrial flutter or atrial tachycardia. RESULTS: The AF recurrence rate was 44.9% (71/158) during the median follow-up period of 22 (13, 40) months. Plasma levels of big ET-1 in the recurrence group were higher than those in the non-recurrence group in all patients [0.80 (0.54, 1.30) vs. 0.57 (0.48, 0.72) fmol·L(-) (1), p  = 0.001], in patients with paroxysmal AF [0.81 (0.46, 1.30) vs. 0.57 (0.48, 0.70) fmol·L(-) (1), p  = 0.009] as well as in patients with persistent AF [0.77 (0.57, 1.28) vs. 0.57 (0.49, 0.89) fmol·L(-) (1), p = 0.034]. Multiple logistic regression analyses showed that plasma levels of big ET-1 were associated with AF recurrence in patients with paroxysmal AF (p  = 0.037). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that the sinus rhythm maintenance rate was lower in patients with higher big ET-1 levels than those with lower levels (p  < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Baseline plasma big ET-1 levels are associated with AF recurrence after primary ablation procedure in patients with paroxysmal AF, and may be used in the prediction of AF recurrence in these patients.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Atrial fibrillation, Cardiac electrophysiology, Supraventricular tachycardia, Atrial flutter, Tachycardia, Left atrial appendage


Due to the increased life expectancy and continual improvements in cardiological treatment options, diseases of the tricuspid valve, in particular tricuspid valve insufficiency will become increasingly more recognized as an interventional target. While tricuspid stenosis is rare and can be effectively treated with balloon valvuloplasty, no effective transcatheter approach to tricuspid regurgitation (TR) has yet been established. As the tricuspid annulus is a complex and highly dynamic structure that offers little resistance, orthotopic long-term fixation of transcatheter valves with the current techniques is challenging and has not yet been performed in human patients. Alternative treatment concepts include transcatheter caval valve implantation (CAVI) to address the regurgitation of blood into the caval veins, which has resulted in hemodynamic improvement and is currently undergoing further clinical investigation. Other interventional treatment concepts are aimed at tricuspid valve repair, e.g. by annular plication with the Mitralign™ device or the TriCinch™ system. In the medium-term it can be assumed that percutaneous systems and therapy options will become available for these indications whereby the functional and prognostic effects of these treatment procedures will be corroborated in the appropriate patient groups by corresponding studies.

Concepts: Heart, Right atrium, Tricuspid valve, Annulus, Abstraction, Tricuspid insufficiency, Regurgitation, Valvular heart disease


The individual amount of alcohol consumed acutely or chronically decides on harm or benefit to a person’s health. Available data suggest that one to two drinks in men and one drink in women will benefit the cardiovascular system over time, one drink being 17.6 ml 100 % alcohol. Moderate drinking can reduce the incidence and mortality of coronary artery disease, heart failure, diabetes, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. More than this amount can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy, which is defined as alcohol toxicity to the heart muscle itself by ethanol and its metabolites. Historical examples of interest are the Munich beer heart and the Tübingen wine heart. Associated with chronic alcohol abuse but having different etiologies are beriberi heart disease (vitamin B1 deficiency) and cardiac cirrhosis as hyperdynamic cardiomyopathies, arsenic poising in the Manchester beer epidemic, and cobalt intoxication in Quebec beer drinker’s disease. Chronic heavy alcohol abuse will also increase blood pressure and cause a downregulation of the immune system that could lead to increased susceptibility to infections, which in turn could add to the development of heart failure. Myocardial tissue analysis resembles idiopathic cardiomyopathy or chronic myocarditis. In the diagnostic work-up of alcoholic cardiomyopathy, the confirmation of alcohol abuse by carbohydrate deficient transferrin (CDT) and increased liver enzymes, and the involvement of the heart by markers of heart failure (e.g., NT-proBNP) and of necrosis (e.g., troponins or CKMb) is mandatory. Treatment of alcoholic cardiomyopathy consists of alcohol abstinence and heart failure medication.

Concepts: Immune system, Blood, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart, Alcoholism, Circulatory system, Alcoholic beverage


Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is a rare and potentially life-threatening disease that occurs toward the end of pregnancy or in the months following delivery in previously heart-healthy women. The incidence varies widely depending on geographical region and ethnic background, with an estimated number of 1 in 1000-1500 pregnancies in Germany. The course of the disease ranges from mild forms with minor symptoms to severe forms with acute heart failure and cardiogenic shock. The understanding of the etiology of PPCM has evolved in recent years. An oxidative stress-mediated cleaved 16-kDa fragment of the nursing hormone prolactin is thought to damage endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes. Bromocriptine, a dopamine-receptor agonist, effectively blocks prolactin release from the pituitary gland. In addition to standard heart failure therapy, this disease-specific treatment reduces morbidity and mortality in PPCM patients. This review summarizes the current knowledge on PPCM and the disease-specific treatment options.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most frequently encountered sustained arrhythmia with a prevalence of 0.5-10%, depending predominantly on age. The arrhythmia is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, mainly due to thromboembolic events including stroke and systemic embolisms. These complications can be effectively prevented with anticoagulation therapy either with vitamin K antagonists (VKA) or with non-vitamin K antagonists (NOAC). VKA therapy is effective in preventing strokes but these medications are difficult to use, are associated with significant bleeding risk, and have pharmacokinetic/dynamic properties that make their use cumbersome. NOACs-either factor II or factor Xa inhibitors-have been developed over the past two decades and have been tested against VKA in large randomized controlled trials. This trial evidence was complemented more recently by increasing real-world data comprising several 100,000 patients. Finally, NOACs have been examined for their use in specific clinical situations, for example, in patients undergoing cardioversion, catheter ablation, or coronary interventions. In all of these clinical scenarios, NOACs have been similarly effective or-in many instances-even superior to treatment with VKA. Recent guidelines, therefore, recommend NOAC therapy for stroke prevention in AF as first-line therapy.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Heart, Randomized controlled trial, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Atrial flutter


Several recent small studies have suggested a causal link between Lyme disease and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) by demonstrating the presence of the Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) genome in the myocardium of patients with recent-onset DCM. The aim of this study was to further investigate the effect of targeted antibiotic treatment of Bb-related recent-onset DCM in a larger cohort of patients.

Concepts: Bacteria, Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia, Allen Steere


The prevalence of heart failure has been steadily increasing during the past few years, with a further increase predicted in the years to come. Without treatment, the syndrome of heart failure has a very poor prognosis. Advances in drug treatments and the consequent implementation of a guideline-recommended drug therapy have significantly improved the prognosis in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Besides angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (ACEi) or angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers and diuretics treatment with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists and ivabradine have become standard in the therapy of symptomatic patients with HFrEF. Recently, the impact of the adequate dosage of ACEi and beta-blockers was emphasized again. Angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibition is an auspicious new therapeutic approach and is predicted to play a crucial role in heart failure treatment in the coming years. The role of cardiac glycosides in the modern era of heart failure therapy is the focus of a current randomized controlled trial. Last but not least, potassium binders such as the new substance patiromer might help in overcoming the problem of hyperkalemia, which frequently limits the dosing of vital heart failure drugs. These advances offer optimism for further improvements in the prognosis and quality of life of HFrEF patients.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a method widely used to support circulation in patients with fulminant myocarditis (FM). However, a common complication associated with ECMO is left ventricular (LV) overload.


The general rules for participation in road traffic are specified in the German Driving License Regulations (FeV). The assessment of fitness to drive motor vehicles is, in addition to Annex 4 of the FeV, governed by the guidelines of the German Federal Highway Research Institute, which implements the requirements of the European Union in Germany. By anchoring the assessment guidelines on fitness to drive in the FeV (Annex 4) and the publication in the Traffic Journal, the guidelines have a normative character. On 28 December 2016 the 11th amendment of the FeV came into force with the newly revised Chapter 3.4 on “Cardiovascular diseases”. For a physician there is a duty to inform the patient about the lack or loss of driving ability. This information must be documented. Taking into account the current state of knowledge, this article describes the preconditions as to when a person has limited or is permanently unfit to drive because of cardiac arrhythmia, for patients with implantable defibrillators, syncope, coronary heart disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, heart valve diseases and arterial hypertension.


Angiopoietin-2 (Angpt2) mediates endothelial dysfunction (ED) following coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Its triggers are, however, poorly understood.