N. Koren-Morag, D. Tanne and U. Goldbourt
Background: The incidence of stroke varies among ethnically and culturally diverse groups.
Objectives: To examine the ethnic-geographic patterns of stroke incidence in men and women with coronary heart disease in Israel, focusing on the extent to which this variability can be explained by known differences in risk factors for stroke.
Methods: Patients with documented coronary heart disease were followed for 6–8 years for incident cerebrovascular events. Baseline medical evaluation included assessment of vascular risk factors and measures of blood lipids. Among 15,052 patients, a total of 1110 were identified with any incident ischemic cerebrovascular event by ICD-9 codes, of whom 613 had confirmed ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack.
Results: A major excess of ischemic cerebrovascular events among Israeli Arab women as compared to males, and an inverse finding among Israeli born Jews, were noted. The high risk in the Arab population in Israel reflected an unfavorable risk profile, since predicted rates by multivariate analysis and observed rates were 69 and 68 per 1000, respectively. High ischemic cerebrovascular event rates were identified among patients born in the Balkan countries and North Africa (89 and 90 per 1000) but unfavorable risk factor levels of these individuals did not explain them. Most trends appeared similar in male and female patients. A comparison of observed and accepted-according-to-risk-profile rates of ischemic cerebrovascular events yielded significant differences (P = 0.04), consistent with an additional role of geographic/ethnic origin, resulting from factors that remain unrecognized,or with variables unassessed in this study.
Conclusions: We identified an ethnic diversity in stroke risk among Israeli born in different parts of the world beyond what could be expected on the basis of differences in known risk factors. These findings call for detailed research aimed at identifying additional differences in the risk profile of patients with atherothrombotic disease exposed to an increased risk of stroke.
B. Chazan ,R. Raz, N. Teitler, O. Nitzan, H. Edelstein and R. Colodner
Background: Identification of pathogens and their susceptibility to antimicrobials is mandatory for successful empiric antibiotic treatment.
Objectives: To compare the clinical characteristics of patients with bacteremia, as well as the bacterial distribution and antimicrobial susceptibility in community, hospital and long-term care facilities during two periods (2001–2002 and 2005–2006).
Methods: The study was conducted at the HaEmek Medical Center, a community 500-bed teaching hospital in northern Israel serving a population of ~500,000 inhabitants. All episodes of bacteremia (n=1546) during two 2 year periods (2001–2 and 2005–6) were prospectively recorded, evaluated and compared (755 in 2001–2 and 791 in 2005–6).
Results: In both periods the urinary tract was the main port of entry in community and long-term care facility bacteremia, while the urinary tract – primary and catheter-related – were similar in frequency as sources of hospital bacteremia. Escherichia coli was the most frequent pathogen isolate. No significant changes in the frequency of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing bacteria were seen between the two 2 year periods (2001–2 and 2005–6). The susceptibility of non-ESBL-producing E. coli decreased for some antibiotics while non-ESBL-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae susceptibility profile improved in the same period. A non-statistically significant trend of increased resistance in gram-negative isolates to quinolones, piperacillin and piperacillin-tazobactam was observed, but most isolates still remained highly susceptible to carbapenems. There was a small increase in mortality rate in hospital bacteremia during the second period.
Conclusions: Continuous surveillance is imperative for monitoring the local epidemiology and for developing local treatment guidelines.
N. Markovits, A. Ben Amotz and Y. Levy
Background: Fat tissue mediates the production of inflammatory cytokines and oxidative products, which are key steps in the development of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis. Antioxidant-rich diets protect against chronic diseases, but antioxidants may interfere with pro-inflammatory signals.
Objectives: To investigate the effect of the potent tomato-derived antioxidant carotenoid, lycopene, on plasma antioxidants (carotenoids and vitamin E), inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha), and oxidation products (conjugated dienes).
Methods: Eight obese patients (body mass index 37.5 ± 2.5 kg/m2) were compared with a control group of eight lean, age and gender-matched subjects (BMI 21.6 ± 0.6 kg/m2), before and after 4 weeks of lycopene supplementation (tomato-derived Lyc-O-Mato) (30 mg daily).
Results: Plasma carotenoids were significantly reduced in the obese compared to control subjects (0.54 ± 0.06 vs. 0.87 ± 0.08 mg/ml, P < 0.01). CRP levels were significantly higher (6.5 vs. 1.1 mg/L, P = 0.04) in obese vs. controls, as were IL-6 and conjugated dienes (3.6 and 7.9-fold, respectively). CRP, IL-6 and conjugated dienes correlated with BMI, while IL-6 and conjugated dienes correlated inversely with carotenoids (P < 0.05). Following lycopene treatment, a significant elevation of plasma carotenoids (1.79 vs. 0.54 ug/ml) and specifically lycopene (1.15 vs 0.23 ug/ml) (P < 0.001) occurred in the treatment vs. placebo group, respectively. Markers of inflammation and oxidation products were not altered by lycopene.
Conclusions: Obese patients showed abnormally higher markers of inflammation and oxidation products and lower plasma carotenoids. The lack of reduction of pro-inflammatory markers could be attributed to the short period of the study and the small number of participants. More studies are needed on the protective qualities of natural antioxidant-rich diets against obesity-related co-morbidities.
A. Blum, R. Costello, L. Samsel, G. Zalos, P. McCoy, G. Csako, M.A. Waclawiw and R.O. Cannon III
Background: High sensitivity C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, has been proposed to stratify coronary artery disease risk and is lowered by HMG-CoA reductase (statin) therapy. However, the reproducibility of persistently elevated hs-CRP levels and association with other markers of inflammation in patients with stable CAD on aggressive statin therapy is unknown.
Objectives: To determine the reproducibility of hs-CRP levels measured within 2 weeks in patients with documented CAD with stable symptoms and to identify associations with other markers of inflammation.
Methods: Levels of hs-CRP were measured twice within 14 days (7 ± 4) in 23 patients (22 males and 1 female, average age 66 ± 10 years) with stable CAD and hs-CRP ≥ 2.0 mg/L but ≤ 10 mg/L at visit 1. All patients had received statins for cholesterol management (low density lipoprotein-cholesterol 84 ± 25 mg/dl) with no dose change for > 3 months. None had a history or evidence of malignancy, chronic infection or inflammation, or recent trauma. There was no change in medications between visits 1 and 2, and no patient reported a change in symptoms or general health during this interval. White blood cell count and pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were measured at both visits.
Results: hs-CRP levels tended to be lower at visit 2 (median 2.4 mg/L, range 0.8–11 mg/L) than at visit 1 (median 3.3 mg/L, range 2.0–9.7 mg/L; P = 0.1793). However, between the two visits hs-CRP levels decreased by more than 1.0 mg/L in 10 patients and increased by more than 1.0 mg/L in 4 patients. Changes in hs-CRP levels were unrelated to changes in levels of white blood cells (P = 0.4353). Of the cytokines tested, only the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 receptor antagonist and the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-8 were above lower limits of detection, but there were no correlations between changes in these values and changes in hs-CRP (both P > 0.5).
Conclusions: In stable CAD patients on aggressive statin therapy, hs-CRP levels may fluctuate over brief periods in the absence of changes in health, cardiac symptom status and medications, and without corroboration with other measures of inflammation. Accordingly, elevated hs-CRP levels should be interpreted with caution in this setting.
T. Fuchs and A. Torjman
Background: Patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are prone to ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death. Identifying patients at risk of sudden death is difficult.
Objectives: To determine whether microvolt T-wave alternans detected during exercise or rapid atrial pacing can identify patients with HCM who are at risk of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death.
Methods: This prospective observational study included 21 patients with HCM: 11 with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, 9 with non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and 1 with apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. TWA was measured while the patients were on anti-arrhythmic medication.
Results: TWA was positive in 9 patients (43%) and negative in 12 (57%). Three patients were resuscitated after sudden death before their enrolment in the study and two patients developed ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation respectively during the study period. After combining the endpoint of sudden death from a ventricular arrhythmia and the presence of ventricular arrhythmias on a Holter monitor, there was no significant correlation between the presence of a positive TWA and the presence of ventricular arrhythmias on the Holter monitor or a history of sudden death.
Conclusion: TWA cannot be used as a non-invasive test for detecting patients with HCM and electrical instability. TWA is not useful for predicting sudden death in patients with HCM.
U. Nussinovitch, U. Katz, M. Nussinovitch and N. Nussinovitch
Background: Familial dysautonomia is a genetic disease that affects the sensory and autonomic nervous systems with varying severity. The deep breath test is one of several measures used to assess the severity of autonomic diseases, but its value in familial dysautonomia has not yet been investigated.
Objectives: To determine the diagnostic value of the DBT in patients with familial dysautonomia.
Methods: Eight patients with familial dysautonomia and eight healthy volunteers were examined by electrocardiography for 1 minute at rest and during forced deep breathing. The following values were recorded: maximum expiratory and minimum inspiratory heart rate and the difference between them (ΔE/I), standard deviation of the heart rate values, interbeat intervals, and E/I ratio. Spectral power analysis of heart rate variability was also performed.
Results: The patients with familial dysautonomia showed a lesser change in heart rate in response to the change in breathing pattern than the controls. Mean values in the study group were significantly higher for minimal inspiratory heart rate and significantly lower for ΔE/I, heart rate standard deviation and E/I ratio, indicating a non-flexible heart response and abnormal parasympathetic function. These findings were supported by power spectral analysis.
Conclusions: Patients with familial dysautonomia have a significantly disturbed response to physiological stimuli. The DBT may serve as a reliable means to quantify autonomic dysfunction in this patient population.
Y. Senecky, D. Inbar, G. Diamond, L. Basel-Vanagaite, S. Rigler and G. Chodick
Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a range of disabilities caused by gestational exposure to alcohol. FASD is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation and developmental disability in the United States, with an incidence of 1–10 per 1000 live births. FASD in Israel has yet to be examined systematically.
Objectives: To evaluate professionals’ experience, awareness and knowledge of FASD in Israel and their awareness of maternal consumption of alcohol, and to collect epidemiological data on the syndrome in Israel.
Methods: A short questionnaire was sent to all 43 program directors of genetic institutes (n=14) and child developmental centers in Israel (n=29). Four questions related to their experience and knowledge of FASD. The epidemiological survey included data from all 17 hospitals in Israel and from the two main health management organizations within the public health care system.
Results: The response rate was 98% (n=42). A total of 38.1% of respondents reported having diagnosed at least one case of FASD and fewer than 10% of respondents stated that the knowledge regarding FASD among physicians in Israel was adequate. Developmental pediatricians were more likely to have diagnosed at least one case as compared to geneticists. During the period 1998–2007 the diagnosis of FASD appeared in the records of only 4 patients from the total number of 17 hospitals in Israel. During the same period only six patients were diagnosed at the HMO within the public health care system.
Conclusions: Despite the accumulated knowledge on FASD in many countries and the increase in alcohol consumption in Israel, professionals' awareness of its potential damage is limited. Educational programs to increase physician awareness should accompany publicity campaigns warning the public of the dangers associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
E. Atar, R. Avrahami, Y. Koganovich, S. Litvin, M. Knizhnik and A. Belenky
Background: Critical limb ischemia is an increasingly common condition that has high surgical morbidity and limited non-surgical options.
Objectives: To evaluate the use of silicon carbide-coated Motion stents, as compared to reported data for bare metal stents, in elderly patients with infrapopliteal artery stenoses causing critical limb ischemia after failed or complicated percutaneous transluminal angioplasty.
Methods: Between January 2003 and March 2004, 41 stents were inserted into 17 consecutive patients (11 males, 6 females, mean age 82 years, range 75–93) following unsuccessful or complicated PTA. Seven patients had one-vessel run-off, six had two-vessel and four had three vessel run-off. All patients suffered from CLI, had up to three lesions and more than one co-morbid condition, and were considered at high surgical risk. Silicon carbide-coated Motion coronary stents, 2.5–4 mm diameter and 25 and 30 mm length, were used. Pre-intervention assessment included clinical condition, ankle brachial index, Doppler ultrasound and digital subtracted angiography. Post-intervention evaluation included clinical condition, ABI, and Doppler ultrasound at 3, 6 and 12 months.
Results: The technical success rate per lesion was 100% (41/41). Two patients died of unrelated causes after 2 and 8 months respectively. Primary patency rates with duplex ultrasound were 68.7% (11/16) at 3 months, 43.7% (7/16) at 6 months and 40% (6/15) after 12 months. Nine patients developed complete occlusion in 13 stents; three of these patients underwent a below-knee amputation and two patients a partial foot amputation. Re-intervention (PTA only) was performed in 7 patients (43.7%). Secondary patency rate was 81.2% (13/16) at 6 months and 60% (9/15) at one year. Mean ABI index had improved at 6 months from 0.32 to 0.67, and to 0.53 at one year. Clinical improvement was evident in 87.5% (14/16) at 6 months and in 66.6% (10/15) at one year.
Conclusions: Silicon carbide-coated stents are comparable to bare metal stents after 6 and 12 months in infrapopliteal interventions in CLI when stenting is indicated.
 PTA = percutaneous transluminal angioplasty
 CLI = critical limb ischemia
 ABI = ankle brachial index