Baseline and on-statin treatment lipoprotein(a) levels for prediction of cardiovascular events


Elevated lipoprotein(a) is a genetic risk factor for cardiovascular disease in general population studies. However, its contribution to risk for cardiovascular events in patients with established cardiovascular disease or on statin therapy is uncertain.


Patient-level data from seven randomised, placebo-controlled, statin outcomes trials were collated and harmonised to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) for cardiovascular events, defined as fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease, stroke, or revascularisation procedures. HRs for cardiovascular events were estimated within each trial across predefined lipoprotein(a) groups (15 to <30 mg/dL, 30 to <50 mg/dL, and ≥50 mg/dL, vs <15 mg/dL), before pooling estimates using multivariate random-effects meta-analysis.


Analyses included data for 29 069 patients with repeat lipoprotein(a) measurements (mean age 62 years [SD 8]; 8064 [28%] women; 5751 events during 95 576 person-years at risk). Initiation of statin therapy reduced LDL cholesterol (mean change −39% [95% CI −43 to −35]) without a significant change in lipoprotein(a). Associations of baseline and on-statin treatment lipoprotein(a) with cardiovascular disease risk were approximately linear, with increased risk at lipoprotein(a) values of 30 mg/dL or greater for baseline lipoprotein(a) and 50 mg/dL or greater for on-statin lipoprotein(a). For baseline lipoprotein(a), HRs adjusted for age and sex ( vs <15 mg/dL) were 1·04 (95% CI 0·91–1·18) for 15 mg/dL to less than 30 mg/dL, 1·11 (1·00–1·22) for 30 mg/dL to less than 50 mg/dL, and 1·31 (1·08–1·58) for 50 mg/dL or higher; respective HRs for on-statin lipoprotein(a) were 0·94 (0·81–1·10), 1·06 (0·94–1·21), and 1·43 (1·15–1·76). HRs were almost identical after further adjustment for previous cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking, systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. The association of on-statin lipoprotein(a) with cardiovascular disease risk was stronger than for on-placebo lipoprotein(a) (interaction p=0·010) and was more pronounced at younger ages (interaction p=0·008) without effect-modification by any other patient-level or study-level characteristics.


In this individual-patient data meta-analysis of statin-treated patients, elevated baseline and on-statin lipoprotein(a) showed an independent approximately linear relation with cardiovascular disease risk. This study provides a rationale for testing the lipoprotein(a) lowering hypothesis in cardiovascular disease outcomes trials.


Novartis Pharma AG.

Diclofenac use and cardiovascular risks: series of nationwide cohort studies

Objective To examine the cardiovascular risks of diclofenac initiation compared with initiation of other traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, initiation of paracetamol, and no initiation.

Design Series of 252 nationwide cohort studies, each mimicking the strict design criteria of a clinical trial (emulated trial design).

Setting Danish, nationwide, population based health registries (1996-2016).

Participants Individuals eligible for inclusion were all adults without malignancy; schizophrenia; dementia; or cardiovascular, kidney, liver, or ulcer diseases (that is, with low baseline risk). The study included 1 370 832 diclofenac initiators, 3 878 454 ibuprofen initiators, 291 490 naproxen initiators, 764 781 healthcare seeking paracetamol initiators matched by propensity score, and 1 303 209 healthcare seeking non-initiators also matched by propensity score.

Main outcome measures Cox proportional hazards regression was used to compute the intention to treat hazard ratio (as a measure of the incidence rate ratio) of major adverse cardiovascular events within 30 days of initiation.

Results The adverse event rate among diclofenac initiators increased by 50% compared with non-initiators (incidence rate ratio 1.5, 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 1.7), 20% compared with paracetamol or ibuprofen initiators (both 1.2, 1.1 to 1.3), and 30% compared with naproxen initiators (1.3, 1.1 to 1.5). The event rate for diclofenac initiators increased for each component of the combined endpoint (1.2 (1.1 to 1.4) for atrial fibrillation/flutter, 1.6 (1.3 to 2.0) for ischaemic stroke, 1.7 (1.4 to 2.0) for heart failure, 1.9 (1.6 to 2.2) for myocardial infarction, and 1.7 (1.4 to 2.1) for cardiac death) as well as for low doses of diclofenac, compared with non-initiators. Although the relative risk of major adverse cardiovascular events was highest in individuals with low or moderate baseline risk (that is, diabetes mellitus), the absolute risk was highest in individuals with high baseline risk (that is, previous myocardial infarction or heart failure). Diclofenac initiation also increased the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding at 30 days, by approximately 4.5-fold compared with no initiation, 2.5-fold compared with initiation of ibuprofen or paracetamol, and to a similar extent as naproxen initiation.

Conclusions Diclofenac poses a cardiovascular health risk compared with non-use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Reference: BMJ 2018;362:k3426

Association of Cardiovascular Health Level in Older Age With Cognitive Decline and Incident Dementia

Question  Is there an association between cardiovascular health level in older age and risk of incident dementia?

Findings  In this French population-based cohort study involving 6626 individuals, an increased number of optimal cardiovascular health metrics (defined using a 7-item tool from the American Heart Association) were significantly associated with lower risk of incident dementia (hazard ratio, 0.90 for each additional metric at recommended optimal level).

Meaning  These findings may support the promotion of cardiovascular health to prevent development of risk factors associated with dementia.

Reference: JAMA. 2018;320(7):657-664. 

Risk Factors, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes


Patients with diabetes are at higher risk for death and cardiovascular outcomes than the general population. We investigated whether the excess risk of death and cardiovascular events among patients with type 2 diabetes could be reduced or eliminated.


In a cohort study, we included 271,174 patients with type 2 diabetes who were registered in the Swedish National Diabetes Register and matched them with 1,355,870 controls on the basis of age, sex, and county. We assessed patients with diabetes according to age categories and according to the presence of five risk factors (elevated glycated hemoglobin level, elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, albuminuria, smoking, and elevated blood pressure). Cox regression was used to study the excess risk of outcomes (death, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and hospitalization for heart failure) associated with smoking and the number of variables outside target ranges. We also examined the relationship between various risk factors and cardiovascular outcomes.


The median follow-up among all the study participants was 5.7 years, during which 175,345 deaths occurred. Among patients with type 2 diabetes, the excess risk of outcomes decreased stepwise for each risk-factor variable within the target range. Among patients with diabetes who had all five variables within target ranges, the hazard ratio for death from any cause, as compared with controls, was 1.06 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00 to 1.12), the hazard ratio for acute myocardial infarction was 0.84 (95% CI, 0.75 to 0.93), and the hazard ratio for stroke was 0.95 (95% CI, 0.84 to 1.07). The risk of hospitalization for heart failure was consistently higher among patients with diabetes than among controls (hazard ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.34 to 1.57). In patients with type 2 diabetes, a glycated hemoglobin level outside the target range was the strongest predictor of stroke and acute myocardial infarction; smoking was the strongest predictor of death.


Patients with type 2 diabetes who had five risk-factor variables within the target ranges appeared to have little or no excess risk of death, myocardial infarction, or stroke, as compared with the general population. (Funded by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and others.)

Urinary sodium excretion, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mortality


WHO recommends that populations consume less than 2 g/day sodium as a preventive measure against cardiovascular disease, but this target has not been achieved in any country. This recommendation is primarily based on individual-level data from short-term trials of blood pressure (BP) without data relating low sodium intake to reduced cardiovascular events from randomised trials or observational studies. We investigated the associations between community-level mean sodium and potassium intake, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.


The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study is ongoing in 21 countries. Here we report an analysis done in 18 countries with data on clinical outcomes. Eligible participants were adults aged 35–70 years without cardiovascular disease, sampled from the general population. We used morning fasting urine to estimate 24 h sodium and potassium excretion as a surrogate for intake. We assessed community-level associations between sodium and potassium intake and BP in 369 communities (all >50 participants) and cardiovascular disease and mortality in 255 communities (all >100 participants), and used individual-level data to adjust for known confounders.


95 767 participants in 369 communities were assessed for BP and 82 544 in 255 communities for cardiovascular outcomes with follow-up for a median of 8·1 years. 82 (80%) of 103 communities in China had a mean sodium intake greater than 5 g/day, whereas in other countries 224 (84%) of 266 communities had a mean intake of 3–5 g/day. Overall, mean systolic BP increased by 2·86 mm Hg per 1 g increase in mean sodium intake, but positive associations were only seen among the communities in the highest tertile of sodium intake (p<0·0001 for heterogeneity). The association between mean sodium intake and major cardiovascular events showed significant deviations from linearity (p=0·043) due to a significant inverse association in the lowest tertile of sodium intake (lowest tertile <4·43 g/day, mean intake 4·04 g/day, range 3·42–4·43; change –1·00 events per 1000 years, 95% CI –2·00 to –0·01, p=0·0497), no association in the middle tertile (middle tertile 4·43–5·08 g/day, mean intake 4·70 g/day, 4·44–5.05; change 0·24 events per 1000 years, –2·12 to 2·61, p=0·8391), and a positive but non-significant association in the highest tertile (highest tertile >5·08 g/day, mean intake 5·75 g/day, >5·08–7·49; change 0·37 events per 1000 years, –0·03 to 0·78, p=0·0712). A strong association was seen with stroke in China (mean sodium intake 5·58 g/day, 0·42 events per 1000 years, 95% CI 0·16 to 0·67, p=0·0020) compared with in other countries (4·49 g/day, –0·26 events, –0·46 to –0·06, p=0·0124; p<0·0001 for heterogeneity). All major cardiovascular outcomes decreased with increasing potassium intake in all countries.


Sodium intake was associated with cardiovascular disease and strokes only in communities where mean intake was greater than 5 g/day. A strategy of sodium reduction in these communities and countries but not in others might be appropriate.


Population Health Research Institute, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Institutes of Health Canada Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and European Research Council.

Excess mortality and cardiovascular disease in young adults with type 1 diabetes in relation to age at onset


People with type 1 diabetes are at elevated risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease, yet current guidelines do not consider age of onset as an important risk stratifier. We aimed to examine how age at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes relates to excess mortality and cardiovascular risk.


We did a nationwide, register-based cohort study of individuals with type 1 diabetes in the Swedish National Diabetes Register and matched controls from the general population. We included patients with at least one registration between Jan 1, 1998, and Dec 31, 2012. Using Cox regression, and with adjustment for diabetes duration, we estimated the excess risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, non-cardiovascular mortality, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, cardiovascular disease (a composite of acute myocardial infarction and stroke), coronary heart disease, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation. Individuals with type 1 diabetes were categorised into five groups, according to age at diagnosis: 0–10 years, 11–15 years, 16–20 years, 21–25 years, and 26–30 years.


27 195 individuals with type 1 diabetes and 135 178 matched controls were selected for this study. 959 individuals with type 1 diabetes and 1501 controls died during follow-up (median follow-up was 10 years). Patients who developed type 1 diabetes at 0–10 years of age had hazard ratios of 4·11 (95% CI 3·24–5·22) for all-cause mortality, 7·38 (3·65–14·94) for cardiovascular mortality, 3·96 (3·06–5·11) for non-cardiovascular mortality, 11·44 (7·95–16·44) for cardiovascular disease, 30·50 (19·98–46·57) for coronary heart disease, 30·95 (17·59–54·45) for acute myocardial infarction, 6·45 (4·04–10·31) for stroke, 12·90 (7·39–22·51) for heart failure, and 1·17 (0·62–2·20) for atrial fibrillation. Corresponding hazard ratios for individuals who developed type 1 diabetes aged 26–30 years were 2·83 (95% CI 2·38–3·37) for all-cause mortality, 3·64 (2·34–5·66) for cardiovascular mortality, 2·78 (2·29–3·38) for non-cardiovascular mortality, 3·85 (3·05–4·87) for cardiovascular disease, 6·08 (4·71–7·84) for coronary heart disease, 5·77 (4·08–8·16) for acute myocardial infarction, 3·22 (2·35–4·42) for stroke, 5·07 (3·55–7·22) for heart failure, and 1·18 (0·79–1·77) for atrial fibrillation; hence the excess risk differed by up to five times across the diagnosis age groups. The highest overall incidence rate, noted for all-cause mortality, was 1·9 (95% CI 1·71–2·11) per 100 000 person-years for people with type 1 diabetes. Development of type 1 diabetes before 10 years of age resulted in a loss of 17·7 life-years (95% CI 14·5–20·4) for women and 14·2 life-years (12·1–18·2) for men.


Age at onset of type 1 diabetes is an important determinant of survival, as well as all cardiovascular outcomes, with highest excess risk in women. Greater focus on cardioprotection might be warranted in people with early-onset type 1 diabetes.


Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation.

Effects of aspirin on risks of vascular events and cancer according to bodyweight and dose


A one-dose-fits-all approach to use of aspirin has yielded only modest benefits in long-term prevention of cardiovascular events, possibly due to underdosing in patients of large body size and excess dosing in patients of small body size, which might also affect other outcomes.


Using individual patient data, we analysed the modifying effects of bodyweight (10 kg bands) and height (10 cm bands) on the effects of low doses (≤100 mg) and higher doses (300–325 mg or ≥500 mg) of aspirin in randomised trials of aspirin in primary prevention of cardiovascular events. We stratified the findings by age, sex, and vascular risk factors, and validated them in trials of aspirin in secondary prevention of stroke. Additionally, we assessed whether any weight or height dependence was evident for the effect of aspirin on 20-year risk of colorectal cancer or any in-trial cancer.


Among ten eligible trials of aspirin in primary prevention (including 117 279 participants), bodyweight varied four-fold and trial median weight ranged from 60·0 kg to 81·2 kg (p<0·0001). The ability of 75–100 mg aspirin to reduce cardiovascular events decreased with increasing weight (pinteraction=0·0072), with benefit seen in people weighing 50–69 kg (hazard ratio [HR] 0·75 [95% CI 0·65–0·85]) but not in those weighing 70 kg or more (0·95 [0·86–1·04]; 1·09 [0·93–1·29] for vascular death). Furthermore, the case fatality of a first cardiovascular event was increased by low-dose aspirin in people weighing 70 kg or more (odds ratio 1·33 [95% CI 1·08–1·64], p=0·0082). Higher doses of aspirin (≥325 mg) had the opposite interaction with bodyweight (difference pinteraction=0·0013), reducing cardiovascular events only at higher weight (pinteraction=0·017). Findings were similar in men and women, in people with diabetes, in trials of aspirin in secondary prevention, and in relation to height (pinteraction=0·0025 for cardiovascular events). Aspirin-mediated reductions in long-term risk of colorectal cancer were also weight dependent (pinteraction=0·038). Stratification by body size also revealed harms due to excess dosing: risk of sudden death was increased by aspirin in people at low weight for dose (pinteraction=0·0018) and risk of all-cause death was increased in people weighing less than 50 kg who were receiving 75–100 mg aspirin (HR 1·52 [95% CI 1·04–2·21], p=0·031). In participants aged 70 years or older, the 3-year risk of cancer was also increased by aspirin (1·20 [1·03–1·47], p=0·02), particularly in those weighing less than 70 kg (1·31 [1·07–1·61], p=0·009) and consequently in women (1·44 [1·11–1·87], p=0·0069).


Low doses of aspirin (75–100 mg) were only effective in preventing vascular events in patients weighing less than 70 kg, and had no benefit in the 80% of men and nearly 50% of all women weighing 70 kg or more. By contrast, higher doses of aspirin were only effective in patients weighing 70 kg or more. Given that aspirin’s effects on other outcomes, including cancer, also showed interactions with body size, a one-dose-fits-all approach to aspirin is unlikely to be optimal, and a more tailored strategy is required.


Wellcome Trust and National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.