Publications by authors named "Darrel P Francis"

329 Publications

IMPACT OF THE PLACEBO EFFECT ON SYMPTOMS, QUALITY OF LIFE AND FUNCTIONAL OUTCOMES IN ANGINA PECTORIS: A meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.

Can J Cardiol 2021 May 8. Epub 2021 May 8.

Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Città della Salute e della Scienza, Torino.

Background: The placebo effect is a well described phenomenon in blinded studies evaluating anti-anginal therapeutics, although its impact on clinical research metrics remains unknown. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the impact of placebo on endpoints of symptoms, life-quality and functional outcomes in randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of symptomatic stable coronary artery disease.

Methods: We systematically reviewed MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane database for double-blind RCTs of anti-angina therapeutics. Patients randomized to the placebo-arm were the study population. Main outcomes were the changes in exercise performance (exercise treadmill test [ETT] parameters), quality of life (Seattle Angina Questionnaire domains), symptoms (Canadian Cardiovascular Society angina class) and drug usage (nitroglycerin tabs/week) between baseline and following placebo. The primary outcome was ETT total duration time. Data were pooled with a random effect model.

Results: Seventy-eight RCTs (83% drug-controlled, 17% procedure-controlled) were included encompassing 4,925 patients randomized to placebo. ETT total duration time was significantly improved following placebo as compared to baseline (mean [95% confidence interval]: 29.2 [20.6-37.8] seconds) with evidence of high heterogeneity (I 2 = 98%) At subgroup analysis, crossover design was associated with a smaller placebo effect on ETT performance than parallel study design (p for interaction=0.001). A significant placebo effect was observed for all secondary outcomes with overall high heterogeneity.

Conclusion: A substantial placebo effect was present in angina RCTs across a variety of functional and life-quality metrics. High variability in placebo effect size was present, mostly unexplained by differences in study and patient characteristics (PROSPERO CRD42019132797).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2021.04.022DOI Listing
May 2021

Multibeat echocardiographic phase detection using deep neural networks.

Comput Biol Med 2021 Apr 6;133:104373. Epub 2021 Apr 6.

School of Computing and Engineering, University of West London, London, United Kingdom; National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.

Background: Accurate identification of end-diastolic and end-systolic frames in echocardiographic cine loops is important, yet challenging, for human experts. Manual frame selection is subject to uncertainty, affecting crucial clinical measurements, such as myocardial strain. Therefore, the ability to automatically detect frames of interest is highly desirable.

Methods: We have developed deep neural networks, trained and tested on multi-centre patient data, for the accurate identification of end-diastolic and end-systolic frames in apical four-chamber 2D multibeat cine loop recordings of arbitrary length. Seven experienced cardiologist experts independently labelled the frames of interest, thereby providing infallible annotations, allowing for observer variability measurements.

Results: When compared with the ground-truth, our model shows an average frame difference of -0.09 ± 1.10 and 0.11 ± 1.29 frames for end-diastolic and end-systolic frames, respectively. When applied to patient datasets from a different clinical site, to which the model was blind during its development, average frame differences of -1.34 ± 3.27 and -0.31 ± 3.37 frames were obtained for both frames of interest. All detection errors fall within the range of inter-observer variability: [-0.87, -5.51]±[2.29, 4.26] and [-0.97, -3.46]±[3.67, 4.68] for ED and ES events, respectively.

Conclusions: The proposed automated model can identify multiple end-systolic and end-diastolic frames in echocardiographic videos of arbitrary length with performance indistinguishable from that of human experts, but with significantly shorter processing time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compbiomed.2021.104373DOI Listing
April 2021

Reusable snorkel masks adapted as particulate respirators.

PLoS One 2021 5;16(4):e0249201. Epub 2021 Apr 5.

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

Introduction: During viral pandemics, filtering facepiece (FFP) masks together with eye protection form the essential components of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. There remain concerns regarding insufficient global supply and imperfect protection offered by currently available PPE strategies. A range of full-face snorkel masks were adapted to accept high grade medical respiratory filters using bespoke-designed 3D-printed connectors. We compared the protection offered by the snorkel to that of standard PPE using a placebo-controlled respirator filtering test as well as a fluorescent droplet deposition experiment. Out of the 56 subjects tested, 42 (75%) passed filtering testing with the snorkel mask compared to 31 (55%) with a FFP3 respirator mask (p = 0.003). Amongst the 43 subjects who were not excluded following a placebo control, 85% passed filtering testing with the snorkel versus to 68% with a FFP3 mask (p = 0.008). Following front and lateral spray of fluorescence liquid particles, the snorkel mask also provided superior protection against droplet deposition within the subject's face, when compared to a standard PPE combination of FFP3 masks and eye protection (3.19x108 versus 6.81x108 fluorescence units, p<0.001). The 3D printable adaptors are available for free download online at https://www.ImperialHackspace.com/COVID-19-Snorkel-Respirator-Project/.

Conclusion: Full-face snorkel masks adapted as particulate respirators performed better than a standard PPE combination of FFP3 mask and eye protection against aerosol inhalation and droplet deposition. This adaptation is therefore a promising PPE solution for healthcare workers during highly contagious viral outbreaks.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0249201PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8021169PMC
April 2021

Controversies in revascularisation for stable coronary artery disease.

Clin Med (Lond) 2021 Mar;21(2):114-118

National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK and Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.

Recent randomised controlled trials, such as ISCHEMIA and ORBITA, have overturned most of what we were taught in medical school about hospital procedures considered necessary for patients with stable coronary artery disease. In this article, we discuss what these trials mean for physicians and patients considering revascularisation procedures with the hope of reducing the risk of death or alleviating angina.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7861/clinmed.2020-0922DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8002764PMC
March 2021

Achieving optimal adherence to medical therapy by telehealth: Findings from the ORBITA medication adherence sub-study.

Pharmacol Res Perspect 2021 02;9(1):e00710

Department of Chemical Pathology and Metabolic Diseases, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester, UK.

Introduction: The ORBITA trial of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) versus a placebo procedure for patients with stable angina was conducted across six sites in the United Kingdom via home monitoring and telephone consultations. Patients underwent detailed assessment of medication adherence which allowed us to measure the efficacy of the implementation of the optimization protocol and interpretation of the main trial endpoints.

Methods: Prescribing data were collected throughout the trial. Self-reported adherence was assessed, and urine samples collected at pre-randomization and at follow-up for direct assessment of adherence using high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC MS/MS).

Results: Self-reported adherence was >96% for all drugs in both treatment groups at both stages. The percentage of samples in which drug was detected at pre-randomization and at follow-up in the PCI versus placebo groups respectively was: clopidogrel, 96% versus 90% and 98% versus 94%; atorvastatin, 95% versus 92% and 92% versus 91%; perindopril, 95% versus 97% and 85% versus 100%; bisoprolol, 98% versus 99% and 96% versus 97%; amlodipine, 99% versus 99% and 94% versus 96%; nicorandil, 98% versus 96% and 94% versus 92%; ivabradine, 100% versus 100% and 100% versus 100%; and ranolazine, 100% versus 100% and 100% versus 100%.

Conclusions: Adherence levels were high throughout the study when quantified by self-reporting methods and similarly high proportions of drug were detected by urinary assay. The results indicate successful implementation of the optimization protocol delivered by telephone, an approach that could serve as a model for treatment of chronic conditions, particularly as consultations are increasingly conducted online.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/prp2.710DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7876856PMC
February 2021

Randomized blinded placebo-controlled trials of renal sympathetic denervation for hypertension: A meta-analysis.

Cardiovasc Revasc Med 2021 Jan 30. Epub 2021 Jan 30.

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.

Background: The efficacy of renal denervation has been controversial, but the procedure has now undergone several placebo-controlled trials. New placebo-controlled trial data has recently emerged, with longer follow-up of one trial and the full report of another trial (which constitutes 27% of the total placebo-controlled trial data). We therefore sought to evaluate the effect of renal denervation on ambulatory and office blood pressures in patients with hypertension.

Methods: We systematically identified all blinded placebo-controlled randomized trials of catheter-based renal denervation for hypertension. The primary efficacy outcome was ambulatory systolic blood pressure change relative to placebo. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed.

Results: 6 studies randomizing 1232 patients were eligible. 713 patients were randomized to renal denervation and 519 to placebo. Renal denervation significantly reduced ambulatory systolic blood pressure (-3.52 mmHg; 95% CI -4.94 to -2.09; p < 0.0001), ambulatory diastolic blood pressure (-1.93 mmHg; 95% CI -3.04 to -0.83, p = 0.0006), office systolic blood pressure size (-5.10 mmHg; 95% CI -7.31 to -2.90, p < 0.0001) and office diastolic pressure (effect size -3.11 mmHg; 95% CI -4.43 to -1.78, p < 0.0001). Adverse events were rare and not more common with denervation.

Conclusions: The totality of blinded, randomized placebo-controlled data shows that renal denervation is safe and provides genuine reduction in blood pressure for at least 6 months post-procedure. If this effect continues in the long term, renal denervation might provide a life-long 10% relative risk reduction in major adverse cardiac events and 7.5% relative risk reduction in all-cause mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.carrev.2021.01.031DOI Listing
January 2021

Achieving Optimal Medical Therapy: Insights From the ORBITA Trial.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 Feb 26;10(3):e017381. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

National Heart and Lung InstituteImperial College London London UK.

Background In stable coronary artery disease, medications are used for 2 purposes: cardiovascular risk reduction and symptom improvement. In clinical trials and clinical practice, medication use is often not optimal. The ORBITA (Objective Randomised Blinded Investigation With Optimal Medical Therapy of Angioplasty in Stable Angina) trial was the first placebo-controlled trial of percutaneous coronary intervention. A key component of the ORBITA trial design was the inclusion of a medical optimization phase, aimed at ensuring that all patients were treated with guideline-directed truly optimal medical therapy. In this study, we report the medical therapy that was achieved. Methods and Results After enrollment into the ORBITA trial, all 200 patients entered a 6-week period of intensive medical therapy optimization, with initiation and uptitration of risk reduction and antianginal therapy. At the prerandomization stage, the median number of antianginals established was 3 (interquartile range, 2-4). A total of 195 patients (97.5%) reached the prespecified target of ≥2 antianginals; 136 (68.0%) did not stop any antianginals because of adverse effects, and the median number of antianginals stopped for adverse effects per patient was 0 (interquartile range, 0-1). Amlodipine and bisoprolol were well tolerated (stopped for adverse effects in 4/175 [2.3%] and 9/167 [5.4%], respectively). Ranolazine and ivabradine were also well tolerated (stopped for adverse effects in 1/20 [5.0%] and 1/18 [5.6%], respectively). Isosorbide mononitrate and nicorandil were stopped for adverse effects in 36 of 172 (20.9%) and 32 of 141 (22.7%) of patients, respectively. Statins were well tolerated and taken by 191 of 200 (95.5%) patients. Conclusions In the 12-week ORBITA trial period, medical therapy was successfully optimized and well tolerated, with few drug adverse effects leading to therapy cessation. Truly optimal medical therapy can be achieved in clinical trials, and translating this into longer-term clinical practice should be a focus of future study. Registration URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT02062593.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.017381DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7955412PMC
February 2021

Electrocardiographic predictors of successful resynchronization of left bundle branch block by His bundle pacing.

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol 2021 Feb 4;32(2):428-438. Epub 2021 Jan 4.

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.

Background: His bundle pacing (HBP) is an alternative to biventricular pacing (BVP) for delivering cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in patients with heart failure and left bundle branch block (LBBB). It is not known whether ventricular activation times and patterns achieved by HBP are equivalent to intact conduction systems and not all patients with LBBB are resynchronized by HBP.

Objective: To compare activation times and patterns of His-CRT with BVP-CRT, LBBB and intact conduction systems.

Methods: In patients with LBBB, noninvasive epicardial mapping (ECG imaging) was performed during BVP and temporary HBP. Intrinsic activation was mapped in all subjects. Left ventricular activation times (LVAT) were measured and epicardial propagation mapping (EPM) was performed, to visualize epicardial wavefronts. Normal activation pattern and a normal LVAT range were determined from normal subjects.

Results: Forty-five patients were included, 24 with LBBB and LV impairment, and 21 with normal 12-lead ECG and LV function. In 87.5% of patients with LBBB, His-CRT successfully shortened LVAT by ≥10 ms. In 33.3%, His-CRT resulted in complete ventricular resynchronization, with activation times and patterns indistinguishable from normal subjects. EPM identified propagation discontinuity artifacts in 83% of patients with LBBB. This was the best predictor of whether successful resynchronization was achieved by HBP (logarithmic odds ratio, 2.19; 95% confidence interval, 0.07-4.31; p = .04).

Conclusion: Noninvasive electrocardiographic mapping appears to identify patients whose LBBB can be resynchronized by HBP. In contrast to BVP, His-CRT may deliver the maximum potential ventricular resynchronization, returning activation times, and patterns to those seen in normal hearts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jce.14845DOI Listing
February 2021

Non-invasive detection of exercise-induced cardiac conduction abnormalities in sudden cardiac death survivors in the inherited cardiac conditions.

Europace 2021 Feb;23(2):305-312

Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University College London & Bart's Heart Centre, Bart's Health NHS Trust, London, UK.

Aims : Rate adaptation of the action potential ensures spatial heterogeneities in conduction across the myocardium are minimized at different heart rates providing a protective mechanism against ventricular fibrillation (VF) and sudden cardiac death (SCD), which can be quantified by the ventricular conduction stability (V-CoS) test previously described. We tested the hypothesis that patients with a history of aborted SCD due to an underlying channelopathy or cardiomyopathy have a reduced capacity to maintain uniform activation following exercise.

Methods And Results : Sixty individuals, with (n = 28) and without (n = 32) previous aborted-SCD event underwent electro-cardiographic imaging recordings following exercise treadmill test. These included 25 Brugada syndrome, 13 hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, 12 idiopathic VF, and 10 healthy controls. Data were inputted into the V-CoS programme to calculate a V-CoS score that indicate the percentage of ventricle that showed no significant change in ventricular activation, with a lower score indicating the development of greater conduction heterogeneity. The SCD group, compared to those without, had a lower median (interquartile range) V-CoS score at peak exertion [92.8% (89.8-96.3%) vs. 97.3% (94.9-99.1%); P < 0.01] and 2 min into recovery [95.2% (91.1-97.2%) vs. 98.9% (96.9-99.5%); P < 0.01]. No significant difference was observable later into recovery at 5 or 10 min. Using the lowest median V-CoS scores obtained during the entire recovery period post-exertion, SCD survivors had a significantly lower score than those without for each of the different underlying aetiologies.

Conclusion : Data from this pilot study demonstrate the potential use of this technique in risk stratification for the inherited cardiac conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/europace/euaa248DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7868885PMC
February 2021

How achievable are COVID-19 clinical trial recruitment targets? A UK observational cohort study and trials registry analysis.

BMJ Open 2020 10 5;10(10):e044566. Epub 2020 Oct 5.

Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Objectives: To analyse enrolment to interventional trials during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in England and describe the barriers to successful recruitment in the circumstance of a further wave or future pandemics.

Design: We analysed registered interventional COVID-19 trial data and concurrently did a prospective observational study of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 who were being assessed for eligibility to one of the RECOVERY, C19-ACS or SIMPLE trials.

Setting: Interventional COVID-19 trial data were analysed from the clinicaltrials.gov and International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number databases on 12 July 2020. The patient cohort was taken from five centres in a respiratory National Institute for Health Research network. Population and modelling data were taken from published reports from the UK government and Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit.

Participants: 2082 consecutive admitted patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from 27 March 2020 were included.

Main Outcome Measures: Proportions enrolled, and reasons for exclusion from the aforementioned trials. Comparisons of trial recruitment targets with estimated feasible recruitment numbers.

Results: Analysis of trial registration data for COVID-19 treatment studies enrolling in England showed that by 12 July 2020, 29 142 participants were needed. In the observational study, 430 (20.7%) proceeded to randomisation. 82 (3.9%) declined participation, 699 (33.6%) were excluded on clinical grounds, 363 (17.4%) were medically fit for discharge and 153 (7.3%) were receiving palliative care. With 111 037 people hospitalised with COVID-19 in England by 12 July 2020, we determine that 22 985 people were potentially suitable for trial enrolment. We estimate a UK hospitalisation rate of 2.38%, and that another 1.25 million infections would be required to meet recruitment targets of ongoing trials.

Conclusions: Feasible recruitment rates, study design and proliferation of trials can limit the number, and size, that will successfully complete recruitment. We consider that fewer, more appropriately designed trials, prioritising cooperation between centres would maximise productivity in a further wave.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044566DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7536634PMC
October 2020

Within-patient comparison of His-bundle pacing, right ventricular pacing, and right ventricular pacing avoidance algorithms in patients with PR prolongation: Acute hemodynamic study.

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol 2020 11 5;31(11):2964-2974. Epub 2020 Oct 5.

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.

Aims: A prolonged PR interval may adversely affect ventricular filling and, therefore, cardiac function. AV delay can be corrected using right ventricular pacing (RVP), but this induces ventricular dyssynchrony, itself harmful. Therefore, in intermittent heart block, pacing avoidance algorithms are often implemented. We tested His-bundle pacing (HBP) as an alternative.

Methods: Outpatients with a long PR interval (>200 ms) and intermittent need for ventricular pacing were recruited. We measured within-patient differences in high-precision hemodynamics between AV-optimized RVP and HBP, as well as a pacing avoidance algorithm (Managed Ventricular Pacing [MVP]).

Results: We recruited 18 patients. Mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 44.3 ± 9%. Mean intrinsic PR interval was 266 ± 42 ms and QRS duration was 123 ± 29 ms. RVP lengthened QRS duration (+54 ms, 95% CI 42-67 ms, p < .0001) while HBP delivered a shorter QRS duration than RVP (-56 ms, 95% CI -67 to -46 ms, p < .0001). HBP did not increase QRS duration (-2 ms, 95% CI -8 to 13 ms, p = .6). HBP improved acute systolic blood pressure by mean of 5.0 mmHg (95% CI 2.8-7.1 mmHg, p < .0001) compared to RVP and by 3.5 mmHg (95% CI 1.9-5.0 mmHg, p = .0002) compared to the pacing avoidance algorithm. There was no significant difference in hemodynamics between RVP and ventricular pacing avoidance (p = .055).

Conclusions: HBP provides better acute cardiac function than pacing avoidance algorithms and RVP, in patients with prolonged PR intervals. HBP allows normalization of prolonged AV delays (unlike pacing avoidance) and does not cause ventricular dyssynchrony (unlike RVP). Clinical trials may be justified to assess whether these acute improvements translate into longer term clinical benefits in patients with bradycardia indications for pacing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jce.14763DOI Listing
November 2020

Discriminating electrocardiographic responses to His-bundle pacing using machine learning.

Cardiovasc Digit Health J 2020 Jul-Aug;1(1):11-20

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Background: His-bundle pacing (HBP) has emerged as an alternative to conventional ventricular pacing because of its ability to deliver physiological ventricular activation. Pacing at the His bundle produces different electrocardiographic (ECG) responses: selective His-bundle pacing (S-HBP), non-selective His bundle pacing (NS-HBP), and myocardium-only capture (MOC). These 3 capture types must be distinguished from each other, which can be challenging and time-consuming even for experts.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to use artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of supervised machine learning using a convolutional neural network (CNN) to automate HBP ECG interpretation.

Methods: We identified patients who had undergone HBP and extracted raw 12-lead ECG data during S-HBP, NS-HBP, and MOC. A CNN was trained, using 3-fold cross-validation, on 75% of the segmented QRS complexes labeled with their capture type. The remaining 25% was kept aside as a testing dataset.

Results: The CNN was trained with 1297 QRS complexes from 59 patients. Cohen kappa for the neural network's performance on the 17-patient testing set was 0.59 (95% confidence interval 0.30 to 0.88; <.0001), with an overall accuracy of 75%. The CNN's accuracy in the 17-patient testing set was 67% for S-HBP, 71% for NS-HBP, and 84% for MOC.

Conclusion: We demonstrated proof of concept that a neural network can be trained to automate discrimination between HBP ECG responses. When a larger dataset is trained to higher accuracy, automated AI ECG analysis could facilitate HBP implantation and follow-up and prevent complications resulting from incorrect HBP ECG analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cvdhj.2020.07.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7484933PMC
September 2020

Invasive versus non-invasive management of older patients with non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (SENIOR-NSTEMI): a cohort study based on routine clinical data.

Lancet 2020 08;396(10251):623-634

National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK. Electronic address:

Background: Previous trials suggest lower long-term risk of mortality after invasive rather than non-invasive management of patients with non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), but the trials excluded very elderly patients. We aimed to estimate the effect of invasive versus non-invasive management within 3 days of peak troponin concentration on the survival of patients aged 80 years or older with NSTEMI.

Methods: Routine clinical data for this study were obtained from five collaborating hospitals hosting NIHR Biomedical Research Centres in the UK (all tertiary centres with emergency departments). Eligible patients were 80 years old or older when they underwent troponin measurements and were diagnosed with NSTEMI between 2010 (2008 for University College Hospital) and 2017. Propensity scores (patients' estimated probability of receiving invasive management) based on pretreatment variables were derived using logistic regression; patients with high probabilities of non-invasive or invasive management were excluded. Patients who died within 3 days of peak troponin concentration without receiving invasive management were assigned to the invasive or non-invasive management groups based on their propensity scores, to mitigate immortal time bias. We estimated mortality hazard ratios comparing invasive with non-invasive management, and compared the rate of hospital admissions for heart failure.

Findings: Of the 1976 patients with NSTEMI, 101 died within 3 days of their peak troponin concentration and 375 were excluded because of extreme propensity scores. The remaining 1500 patients had a median age of 86 (IQR 82-89) years of whom (845 [56%] received non-invasive management. During median follow-up of 3·0 (IQR 1·2-4·8) years, 613 (41%) patients died. The adjusted cumulative 5-year mortality was 36% in the invasive management group and 55% in the non-invasive management group (adjusted hazard ratio 0·68, 95% CI 0·55-0·84). Invasive management was associated with lower incidence of hospital admissions for heart failure (adjusted rate ratio compared with non-invasive management 0·67, 95% CI 0·48-0·93).

Interpretation: The survival advantage of invasive compared with non-invasive management appears to extend to patients with NSTEMI who are aged 80 years or older.

Funding: NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, as part of the NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30930-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456783PMC
August 2020

Catheter ablation vs. thoracoscopic surgical ablation in long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation: CASA-AF randomized controlled trial.

Eur Heart J 2020 12;41(47):4471-4480

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK.

Aims: Long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation (LSPAF) is challenging to treat with suboptimal catheter ablation (CA) outcomes. Thoracoscopic surgical ablation (SA) has shown promising efficacy in atrial fibrillation (AF). This multicentre randomized controlled trial tested whether SA was superior to CA as the first interventional strategy in de novo LSPAF.

Methods And Results: We randomized 120 LSPAF patients to SA or CA. All patients underwent predetermined lesion sets and implantable loop recorder insertion. Primary outcome was single procedure freedom from AF/atrial tachycardia (AT) ≥30 s without anti-arrhythmic drugs at 12 months. Secondary outcomes included clinical success (≥75% reduction in AF/AT burden); procedure-related serious adverse events; changes in patients' symptoms and quality-of-life scores; and cost-effectiveness. At 12 months, freedom from AF/AT was recorded in 26% (14/54) of patients in SA vs. 28% (17/60) in the CA group [OR 1.128, 95% CI (0.46-2.83), P = 0.83]. Reduction in AF/AT burden ≥75% was recorded in 67% (36/54) vs. 77% (46/60) [OR 1.13, 95% CI (0.67-4.08), P = 0.3] in SA and CA groups, respectively. Procedure-related serious adverse events within 30 days of intervention were reported in 15% (8/55) of patients in SA vs. 10% (6/60) in CA, P = 0.46. One death was reported after SA. Improvements in AF symptoms were greater following CA. Over 12 months, SA was more expensive and provided fewer quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) compared with CA (0.78 vs. 0.85, P = 0.02).

Conclusion: Single procedure thoracoscopic SA is not superior to CA in treating LSPAF. Catheter ablation provided greater improvements in symptoms and accrued significantly more QALYs during follow-up than SA.

Clinical Trial Registration: ISRCTN18250790 and ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02755688.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa658DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7767634PMC
December 2020

Improving the Design of Future PCI Trials for Stable Coronary Artery Disease: JACC State-of-the-Art Review.

J Am Coll Cardiol 2020 07;76(4):435-450

Terrence Donnelly Heart Centre, St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto and Canadian Heart Research Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Canadian VIGOUR Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address:

The role of percutaneous coronary interventions in addition to medical therapy for patients with stable coronary artery disease continues to be debated in routine clinical practice, despite more than 2 decades of randomized controlled trials. The residual uncertainty arises from particular challenges facing revascularization trials. Which endpoint do doctors care about, and which do patients care about? Which participants should be enrolled? What background medical therapy should we use? When is placebo control relevant? In this paper, we discuss how these questions can be approached and examine the merits and disadvantages of possible options. Engaging multiple stakeholders, including patients, researchers, regulators, and funders, to ensure the design elements are methodologically valid and clinically meaningful should be an aspirational goal in the development of future trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.05.060DOI Listing
July 2020

Artificial Intelligence, Data Sensors and Interconnectivity: Future Opportunities for Heart Failure.

Card Fail Rev 2020 Mar 12;6:e11. Epub 2020 May 12.

Imperial Centre for Cardiac Engineering, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, UK.

A higher proportion of patients with heart failure have benefitted from a wide and expanding variety of sensor-enabled implantable devices than any other patient group. These patients can now also take advantage of the ever-increasing availability and affordability of consumer electronics. Wearable, on- and near-body sensor technologies, much like implantable devices, generate massive amounts of data. The connectivity of all these devices has created opportunities for pooling data from multiple sensors - so-called interconnectivity - and for artificial intelligence to provide new diagnostic, triage, risk-stratification and disease management insights for the delivery of better, more personalised and cost-effective healthcare. Artificial intelligence is also bringing important and previously inaccessible insights from our conventional cardiac investigations. The aim of this article is to review the convergence of artificial intelligence, sensor technologies and interconnectivity and the way in which this combination is set to change the care of patients with heart failure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15420/cfr.2019.14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265101PMC
March 2020

Safety of Revascularization Deferral of Left Main Stenosis Based on Instantaneous Wave-Free Ratio Evaluation.

JACC Cardiovasc Interv 2020 07 13;13(14):1655-1664. Epub 2020 May 13.

Cardiovascular Science, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the long-term clinical outcomes of patients with left main coronary artery (LM) stenosis in whom treatment strategy was based on the instantaneous wave-free ratio (iFR).

Background: The overall safety of iFR to guide revascularization decision making in patients with stable coronary artery disease has been established. However, no study has examined the safety of deferral of revascularization of LM disease on the basis of iFR.

Methods: This multicenter observational study included 314 patients in whom LM stenosis was deferred (n = 163 [51.9%]) or revascularized (n = 151 [48.1%]) according to the iFR cutoff ≤0.89. The primary endpoint was a composite of all-cause death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and ischemia-driven target lesion revascularization. The secondary endpoints were each individual component of the primary endpoint and also cardiac death.

Results: At a median follow-up period of 30 months, the primary endpoint occurred in 15 patients (9.2%) in the deferred group and 22 patients (14.6%) in the revascularized group (hazard ratio: 1.45; 95% confidence interval: 0.75 to 2.81; p = 0.26), indicating no evidence of a significant difference between the 2 groups. For the secondary endpoints, findings in the iFR-based deferral and revascularization groups were as follows: all-cause death, 3.7% versus 4.6%; cardiac death, 1.2% versus 2.0%; nonfatal myocardial infarction, 2.5% versus 5.3%; and target lesion revascularization, 4.3% versus 5.3% (p > 0.05 for all).

Conclusions: Deferral of revascularization of LM stenosis on the basis of iFR appears to be safe, with similar long-term outcomes to those in patients in whom LM revascularization was performed according to iFR values.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcin.2020.02.035DOI Listing
July 2020

Difference in functional assessment of individual stenosis severity in serial coronary lesions between resting and hyperemic pressure-wire pullback: Insights from the GIFT registry.

Int J Cardiol 2020 08 3;312:10-15. Epub 2020 May 3.

Cardiovascular Science, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Background: Identifying the individual hemodynamic significance of tandem coronary artery lesions can be complicated by the crosstalk phenomenon which occurs between serial stenoses under hyperemic conditions. Physiological assessments performed under resting conditions are considered to be, theoretically, less affected by the hemodynamic interaction between serial coronary stenoses. The purpose of this study was to assess whether pressure-wire (PW) pullback measurements at rest and during hyperemia provided different information as to which stenosis appeared to be most functionally significant.

Methods: In consecutive patients with angiographically discrete serial lesions, physiological lesion predominance (i.e. proximal or distal) was defined according to the pressure gradient along the vessels on PW-pullback trace. We used instantaneous wave-free ratio (iFR) based assessment as the reference standard and compared fractional flow reserve (FFR) based and hyperemic-iFR based lesion predominance.

Results: Eighty-eight vessels (70 patients, mean age 70.3 ± 9.4 years, 80% male) were included in this study. Median iFR, FFR and hyperemic-iFR were 0.85 (interquartile range [IQR]: 0.74 to 0.91), 0.73 (IQR: 0.65 to 0.80) and 0.60 (IQR: 0.49 to 0.71), respectively. When judged against iFR-pullback based physiological assessment, lesion predominance changed in 22.7% (20/88) in FFR and in 20.5% (18/88) in hyperemic-iFR, respectively. There was no statistical difference between FFR and hyperemic-iFR for the impact on these changes (p = 0.77).

Conclusions: In serial coronary lesions, hyperemic PW-pullback disagreed with resting PW-pullback on the lesion-specific identification of ischemia in approximately 20% of cases, either in whole cardiac cycle or in wave-free period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2020.05.001DOI Listing
August 2020

Beta-blocker efficacy across different cardiovascular indications: an umbrella review and meta-analytic assessment.

BMC Med 2020 05 5;18(1):103. Epub 2020 May 5.

University of Birmingham Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, Medical School, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.

Background: Beta-blockers are widely used for many cardiovascular conditions; however, their efficacy in contemporary clinical practice remains uncertain.

Methods: We performed a prospectively designed, umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the evidence of beta-blockers in the contemporary management of coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure (HF), patients undergoing surgery or hypertension (registration: PROSPERO CRD42016038375). We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library from inception until December 2018. Outcomes were analysed as beta-blockers versus control for all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction (MI), incident HF or stroke. Two independent investigators abstracted the data, assessed the quality of the evidence and rated the certainty of evidence.

Results: We identified 98 meta-analyses, including 284 unique RCTs and 1,617,523 patient-years of follow-up. In CAD, 12 meta-analyses (93 RCTs, 103,481 patients) showed that beta-blockers reduced mortality in analyses before routine reperfusion, but there was a lack of benefit in contemporary studies where ≥ 50% of patients received thrombolytics or intervention. Beta-blockers reduced incident MI at the expense of increased HF. In HF with reduced ejection fraction, 34 meta-analyses (66 RCTs, 35,383 patients) demonstrated a reduction in mortality and HF hospitalisation with beta-blockers in sinus rhythm, but not in atrial fibrillation. In patients undergoing surgery, 23 meta-analyses (89 RCTs, 19,211 patients) showed no effect of beta-blockers on mortality for cardiac surgery, but increased mortality in non-cardiac surgery. In non-cardiac surgery, beta-blockers reduced MI after surgery but increased the risk of stroke. In hypertension, 27 meta-analyses (36 RCTs, 260,549 patients) identified no benefit versus placebo, but beta-blockers were inferior to other agents for preventing mortality and stroke.

Conclusions: Beta-blockers substantially reduce mortality in HF patients in sinus rhythm, but for other conditions, clinicians need to weigh up both benefit and potential risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01564-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7199339PMC
May 2020

An optimisation-based iterative approach for speckle tracking echocardiography.

Med Biol Eng Comput 2020 Jun 7;58(6):1309-1323. Epub 2020 Apr 7.

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK.

Speckle tracking is the most prominent technique used to estimate the regional movement of the heart based on echocardiograms. In this study, we propose an optimised-based block matching algorithm to perform speckle tracking iteratively. The proposed technique was evaluated using a publicly available synthetic echocardiographic dataset with known ground-truth from several major vendors and for healthy/ischaemic cases. The results were compared with the results from the classic (standard) two-dimensional block matching. The proposed method presented an average displacement error of 0.57 pixels, while classic block matching provided an average error of 1.15 pixels. When estimating the segmental/regional longitudinal strain in healthy cases, the proposed method, with an average of 0.32 ± 0.53, outperformed the classic counterpart, with an average of 3.43 ± 2.84. A similar superior performance was observed in ischaemic cases. This method does not require any additional ad hoc filtering process. Therefore, it can potentially help to reduce the variability in the strain measurements caused by various post-processing techniques applied by different implementations of the speckle tracking. Graphical Abstract Standard block matching versus proposed iterative block matching approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11517-020-02142-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7211789PMC
June 2020

Improving ultrasound video classification: an evaluation of novel deep learning methods in echocardiography.

J Med Artif Intell 2020 Mar;3

National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.

Echocardiography is the commonest medical ultrasound examination, but automated interpretation is challenging and hinges on correct recognition of the 'view' (imaging plane and orientation). Current state-of-the-art methods for identifying the view computationally involve 2-dimensional convolutional neural networks (CNNs), but these merely classify individual frames of a video in isolation, and ignore information describing the movement of structures throughout the cardiac cycle. Here we explore the efficacy of novel CNN architectures, including time-distributed networks and two-stream networks, which are inspired by advances in human action recognition. We demonstrate that these new architectures more than halve the error rate of traditional CNNs from 8.1% to 3.9%. These advances in accuracy may be due to these networks' ability to track the movement of specific structures such as heart valves throughout the cardiac cycle. Finally, we show the accuracies of these new state-of-the-art networks are approaching expert agreement (3.6% discordance), with a similar pattern of discordance between views.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21037/jmai.2019.10.03DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7100611PMC
March 2020

Prognostic significance of troponin level in 3121 patients presenting with atrial fibrillation (The NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative TROP-AF study).

J Am Heart Assoc 2020 04 26;9(7):e013684. Epub 2020 Mar 26.

NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust London United Kingdom.

Background Patients presenting with atrial fibrillation (AF) often undergo a blood test to measure troponin, but interpretation of the result is impeded by uncertainty about its clinical importance. We investigated the relationship between troponin level, coronary angiography, and all-cause mortality in real-world patients presenting with AF. Methods and Results We used National Institute of Health Research Health Informatics Collaborative data to identify patients admitted between 2010 and 2017 at 5 tertiary centers in the United Kingdom with a primary diagnosis of AF. Peak troponin results were scaled as multiples of the upper limit of normal. A total of 3121 patients were included in the analysis. Over a median follow-up of 1462 (interquartile range, 929-1975) days, there were 586 deaths (18.8%). The adjusted hazard ratio for mortality associated with a positive troponin (value above upper limit of normal) was 1.20 (95% CI, 1.01-1.43; <0.05). Higher troponin levels were associated with higher risk of mortality, reaching a maximum hazard ratio of 2.6 (95% CI, 1.9-3.4) at ≈250 multiples of the upper limit of normal. There was an exponential relationship between higher troponin levels and increased odds of coronary angiography. The mortality risk was 36% lower in patients undergoing coronary angiography than in those who did not (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.42-0.89; =0.01). Conclusions Increased troponin was associated with increased risk of mortality in patients presenting with AF. The lower hazard ratio in patients undergoing invasive management raises the possibility that the clinical importance of troponin release in AF may be mediated by coronary artery disease, which may be responsive to revascularization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.013684DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7428631PMC
April 2020

Mortality after drug-eluting stents vs. coronary artery bypass grafting for left main coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Eur Heart J 2020 09;41(34):3228-3235

Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy, Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, 161 Fort Washington Avenue, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Aims: The optimal method of revascularization for patients with left main coronary artery disease (LMCAD) is controversial. Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) has traditionally been considered the gold standard therapy, and recent randomized trials comparing CABG with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with drug-eluting stents (DES) have reported conflicting outcomes. We, therefore, performed a systematic review and updated meta-analysis comparing CABG to PCI with DES for the treatment of LMCAD.

Methods And Results: We systematically identified all randomized trials comparing PCI with DES vs. CABG in patients with LMCAD. The primary efficacy endpoint was all-cause mortality. Secondary endpoints included cardiac death, myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and unplanned revascularization. All analyses were by intention-to-treat. There were five eligible trials in which 4612 patients were randomized. The weighted mean follow-up duration was 67.1 months. There were no significant differences between PCI and CABG for the risk of all-cause mortality [relative risk (RR) 1.03, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.81-1.32; P = 0.779] or cardiac death (RR 1.03, 95% CI 0.79-1.34; P = 0.817). There were also no significant differences in the risk of stroke (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.35-1.50; P = 0.400) or MI (RR 1.22, 95% CI 0.96-1.56; P = 0.110). Percutaneous coronary intervention was associated with an increased risk of unplanned revascularization (RR 1.73, 95% CI 1.49-2.02; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: The totality of randomized clinical trial evidence demonstrated similar long-term mortality after PCI with DES compared with CABG in patients with LMCAD. Nor were there significant differences in cardiac death, stroke, or MI between PCI and CABG. Unplanned revascularization procedures were less common after CABG compared with PCI. These findings may inform clinical decision-making between cardiologists, surgeons, and patients with LMCAD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa135DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7557472PMC
September 2020

Effects of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention on Death and Myocardial Infarction Stratified by Stable and Unstable Coronary Artery Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 2020 02 17;13(2):e006363. Epub 2020 Feb 17.

Imperial College London, United Kingdom (L.C., J.H., C.R., A.N.N., C.K., D.M.,M.F., M.S.-S., G.C., S.S., R.A.-L., D.P.F., Y.A.).

Background: In patients presenting with ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) reduces mortality when compared with fibrinolysis. In other forms of coronary artery disease (CAD), however, it has been controversial whether PCI reduces mortality. In this meta-analysis, we examine the benefits of PCI in (1) patients post-myocardial infarction (MI) who did not receive immediate revascularization; (2) patients who have undergone primary PCI for ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction but have residual coronary lesions; (3) patients who have suffered a non-ST-segment-elevation acute coronary syndrome; and (4) patients with truly stable CAD with no recent infarct. This analysis includes data from the recently presented International Study of Comparative Health Effectiveness with Medical and Invasive Approaches (ISCHEMIA) and Complete versus Culprit-Only Revascularization Strategies to Treat Multivessel Disease after Early PCI for STEMI (COMPLETE) trials.

Methods And Results: We systematically identified all randomized trials of PCI on a background of medical therapy for the treatment of CAD. The ISCHEMIA trial, presented in November 2019, was eligible for inclusion. Data were combined using a random-effects meta-analysis. The primary end point was all-cause mortality. Forty-six trials, including 37 757 patients, were eligible. In the 3 unstable scenarios, PCI had the following effects on mortality: unrevascularized post-MI relative risk (RR) 0.68 (95% CI, 0.45-1.03); =0.07; multivessel disease following ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction (RR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.69-1.04]; =0.11); non-ST-segment-elevation acute coronary syndrome (RR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.72-0.97]; =0.02). Overall, in these unstable scenarios PCI was associated with a significant reduction in mortality (RR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.75-0.93]; =0.02). In unstable CAD, PCI also reduced cardiac death (RR, 0.69 [95% CI, 0.53-0.90]; =0.007) and MI (RR, 0.74 [95% CI, 0.62-0.90]; =0.002). For stable CAD, PCI did not reduce mortality (RR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.87-1.11]), cardiac death (RR, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.71-1.12]; =0.33), or MI (RR, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.86-1.08]; =0.54).

Conclusions: PCI prevents death, cardiac death, and MI in patients with unstable CAD. For patients with stable CAD, PCI shows no evidence of an effect on any of these outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.119.006363DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7034389PMC
February 2020

Association of troponin level and age with mortality in 250 000 patients: cohort study across five UK acute care centres.

BMJ 2019 11 20;367:l6055. Epub 2019 Nov 20.

NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0HS, UK

Objective: To determine the relation between age and troponin level and its prognostic implication.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Five cardiovascular centres in the UK National Institute for Health Research Health Informatics Collaborative (UK-NIHR HIC).

Participants: 257 948 consecutive patients undergoing troponin testing for any clinical reason between 2010 and 2017.

Main Outcome Measure: All cause mortality.

Results: 257 948 patients had troponin measured during the study period. Analyses on troponin were performed using the peak troponin level, which was the highest troponin level measured during the patient's hospital stay. Troponin levels were standardised as a multiple of each laboratory's 99th centile of the upper limit of normal (ULN). During a median follow-up of 1198 days (interquartile range 514-1866 days), 55 850 (21.7%) deaths occurred. A positive troponin result (that is, higher than the upper limit of normal) signified a 3.2 higher mortality hazard (95% confidence interval 3.1 to 3.2) over three years. Mortality varied noticeably with age, with a hazard ratio of 10.6 (8.5 to 13.3) in 18-29 year olds and 1.5 (1.4 to 1.6) in those older than 90. A positive troponin result was associated with an approximately 15 percentage points higher absolute three year mortality across all age groups. The excess mortality with a positive troponin result was heavily concentrated in the first few weeks. Results were analysed using multivariable adjusted restricted cubic spline Cox regression. A direct relation was seen between troponin level and mortality in patients without acute coronary syndrome (ACS, n=120 049), whereas an inverted U shaped relation was found in patients with ACS (n=14 468), with a paradoxical decline in mortality at peak troponin levels >70×ULN. In the group with ACS, the inverted U shaped relation persisted after multivariable adjustment in those who were managed invasively; however, a direct positive relation was found between troponin level and mortality in patients managed non-invasively.

Conclusions: A positive troponin result was associated with a clinically important increased mortality, regardless of age, even if the level was only slightly above normal. The excess mortality with a raised troponin was heavily concentrated in the first few weeks.

Study Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03507309.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6055DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865859PMC
November 2019