Author Archives: Paul Older

A collection of papers from Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue 13

Dear all

I have just sent out around 10 papers from the Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue 13. The format is slightly different to usual for technical reasons!

This was a Supplementary  Issue dedicated to CPET and emanated from the Centro Cardilogico Monzino

I hope that you find them as interesting as I did.

My best regards


MD (Melb)
MB BS (Lond)
FANZCA (Aust)  FFICM (Aust)
Former Director CPX Laboratory
Western Hospital, Melbourne,
AustraliaExecutive Director CPX International Inc





International validation of the Metabolic Exercise test data combined with Cardiac and Kidney Indexes (MECKI) score in heart failure

S. Adamopoulos, D. Miliopoulos, E. Piotrowicz, J. A. Snoek, N. Panagopoulou, S. Nanas, et al.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue 13 Pages 1371-1379

AIMS: Current European heart failure (HF) guidelines suggest the use of risk score: among them, the Metabolic Exercise test data combined with Cardiac and Kidney Indexes (MECKI) score has demonstrated to be one of the most accurate. However, the risk scores are still poorly implemented in clinical practice, also due to the lack of strong evidence regarding their external validation in different populations. Thus, the current study was designed as an external validation test of the MECKI score in an international multicentre setting.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The study cohort consisted of patients diagnosed with HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) across international centres (not Italian), retrospectively recruited. Collected data included demographics, HF aetiology, laboratory testing, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiographic findings, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) results as described in the original MECKI score publication. A total of 1042 patients across 8 international centres (7 European and 1 Asian) were included and followed up from 1998 till 2019. Patients were divided according to the calculated MECKI scores into three subgroups: (i) MECKI score <10%, (ii) 10-20%, and (iii) >/= 20%. Survival analysis comparison among the three MECKI score subgroups showed a worse prognosis in patients with higher MECKI score value: median event-free survival times were 4396 days for MECKI score <10%, 3457 days for 10-20%, and 1022 days for >/=20% (P < 0.0001). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and area under the ROC curves (AUC) were like those reported in the original internal validation studies.

CONCLUSION: In patients diagnosed with HFrEF, the power of the MECKI score was confirmed in terms of prognosis and risk stratification, supporting its implementation as advised by the HF guidelines.
In patients diagnosed with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, the Metabolic Exercise test data combined with Cardiac and Kidney Indexes (MECKI) risk score underwent an external validation. The MECKI score prognostic power was confirmed in a large population of patients from Europe and Asia. These data support MECKI score implementation, as advised by the 2021 European heart failure guidelines.

Determinants of exercise performance in heart failure patients with extremely reduced cardiac output and left ventricular assist device

A. Apostolo, C. Vignati, M. Cittar, N. Baracchini, S. Mushtaq, G. Cattadori, et al.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii63-ii69

The evaluation of exercise capacity and cardiac output (QC) is fundamental in the management of patients with advanced heart failure (AdHF). QC and peak oxygen uptake (VO2) have a pivotal role in the prognostic stratification and in the definition of therapeutic interventions, including medical therapies and devices, but also specific treatments such as heart transplantation and left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation. Due to the intertwined relationship between exercise capacity and daily activities, exercise intolerance dramatically has impact on the quality of life of patients. It is a multifactorial process that includes alterations in central and peripheral haemodynamic regulation, anaemia and iron deficiency, pulmonary congestion, pulmonary hypertension, and peripheral O2 extraction. This paper aims to review the pathophysiological background of exercise limitations in HF patients and to examine the complex physiology of exercise in LVAD recipients, analysing the interactions between the cardiopulmonary system, the musculoskeletal system, the autonomic nervous system, and the pump. We performed a literature review to highlight the current knowledge on this topic and possible interventions that can be implemented to increase exercise capacity in AdHF patients-including administration of levosimendan, rehabilitation, and the intriguing field of LVAD speed changes. The present paper confirms the role of CPET in the follow-up of this peculiar population and the impact of exercise capacity on the quality of life of AdHF patients.

The cardiopulmonary exercise test in the prognostic evaluation of patients with heart failure and cardiomyopathies: the long history of making a one-size-fits-all suit

E. Salvioni, A. Bonomi, D. Magri, M. Merlo, B. Pezzuto, M. Chiesa, et al.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii28-ii33

Cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) has become pivotal in the functional evaluation of patients with chronic heart failure (HF), supplying a holistic evaluation both in terms of exercise impairment degree and possible underlying mechanisms. Conversely, there is growing interest in investigating possible multiparametric approaches in order to improve the overall HF risk stratification. In such a context, in 2013, a group of 13 Italian centres skilled in HF management and CPET analysis built the Metabolic Exercise test data combined with Cardiac and Kidney Indexes (MECKI) score, based on the dynamic assessment of HF patients and on some other instrumental and laboratory parameters. Subsequently, the MECKI score, initially developed on a cohort of 2716 HF patients, has been extensively validated as well as challenged with the other multiparametric scores, achieving optimal results. Meanwhile, the MECKI score research group has grown over time, involving up to now a total of 27 centres with an available database accounting for nearly 8000 HF patients. This exciting joint effort from multiple HF Italian centres allowed to investigate different HF research field in order to deepen the mechanisms underlying HF, to improve the ability to identify patients at the highest risk as well as to analyse particular HF categories. Most recently, some of the participants of the MECKI score group started to join the forces in investigating a possible additive role of CPET assessment in the cardiomyopathy setting too. The present study tells the ten-year history of the MECKI score presenting the most important results achieved as well as those projects in the pipeline, this exciting journey being far to be concluded.

Dysregulation of ventilation at day and night time in heart failure

M. Contini, M. Mapelli, C. Carriere, P. Gugliandolo, A. Aliverti, M. Piepoli, et al.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii16-ii21

Heart failure (HF) is characterized by an increase in ventilatory response to exercise of multifactorial aetiology and by a dysregulation in the ventilatory control during sleep with the occurrence of both central and obstructive apnoeas. In this setting, the study of the ventilatory behaviour during exercise, by cardiopulmonary exercise testing, or during sleep, by complete polysomnography or simplified nocturnal cardiorespiratory monitoring, is of paramount importance because of its prognostic value and of the possible effects of sleep-disordered breathing on the progression of the disease. Moreover, several therapeutic interventions can significantly influence ventilatory control in HF. Also, rest daytime monitoring of cardiac, metabolic, and respiratory activities through specific wearable devices could provide useful information for HF management. The aim of the review is to summarize the main studies conducted at Centro Cardiologico Monzino on these topics.

Fluid balance in heart failure

N. Cosentino, G. Marenzi, M. Muratori, D. Magri, G. Cattadori and P. Agostoni

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii9-ii15

Fluid retention is a major determinant of symptoms in patients with heart failure (HF), and it is closely associated with prognosis. Hence, congestion represents a critical therapeutic target in this clinical setting. The first therapeutic strategy in HF patients with fluid overload is optimization of diuretic intervention to maximize water and sodium excretion. When diuretic therapy fails to relieve congestion, renal replacement therapy represents the only alternative option for fluid removal, as well as a way to restore diuretic responsiveness. On this background, the pathophysiology of fluid balance in HF is complex, with heart, kidney, and lung being deeply involved in volume regulation and management. Therefore, the interplay between these organs should be appreciated and considered when fluid overload in HF patients is targeted.

Exercise in hypoxia: a model from laboratory to on-field studies

C. Vignati, M. Contini, E. Salvioni, C. Lombardi, S. Caravita, G. Bilo, et al.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii40-ii46

Clinical outcome and quality of life of patients with chronic heart failure (HF) have greatly improved over the last two decades. These results and the availability of modern lifts allow many cardiac patients to spend leisure time at altitude. Heart failure per se does not impede a safe stay at altitude, but exercise at both simulated and real altitudes is associated with a reduction in performance, which is inversely proportional to HF severity. For example, in normal subjects, the reduction in functional capacity is approximately 2% every 1000 m altitude increase, whereas it is 4 and 10% in HF patients with normal or slightly diminished exercise capacity and in HF patients with markedly diminished exercise capacity, respectively. Also, the on-field experience with HF patients at altitude confirms safety and shows overall similar data to that reported at simulated altitude. Even ‘optimal’ HF treatment in patients spending time at altitude or at hypoxic conditions is likely different from optimal treatment at sea level, particularly with regard to the selectivity of beta-blockers. Furthermore, high altitude, both simulated and on-field, represents a stimulating model of hypoxia in HF patients and healthy subjects. Our data suggest that spending time at altitude (<3500 m) can be safe even for HF patients, provided that subjects are free from comorbidities that may directly interfere with the adaptation to altitude and are stable. However, HF patients experience a reduction of exercise capacity directly proportional to HF severity and altitude. Finally, HF patients should be tested for functional capacity and must undergo a specific ‘hypoxic-tailored treatment’ to avoid pharmacological interference with altitude adaptation mechanisms, particularly with regard to the selectivity of beta-blockers.

Beyond VO2: the complex cardiopulmonary exercise test

I. Mattavelli, C. Vignati, S. Farina, A. Apostolo, G. Cattadori, F. De Martino, et al.

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii34-ii39

Cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) is a valuable diagnostic tool with a specific application in heart failure (HF) thanks to the strong prognostic value of its parameters. The most important value provided by CPET is the peak oxygen uptake (peak VO2), the maximum rate of oxygen consumption attainable during physical exertion. According to the Fick principle, VO2 equals cardiac output (Qc) times the arteriovenous content difference [C(a-v)O2], where Ca is the arterial oxygen and Cv is the mixed venous oxygen content, respectively; therefore, VO2 can be reduced both by impaired O2 delivery (reduced Qc) or extraction (reduced arteriovenous O2 content). However, standard CPET is not capable of discriminating between these different impairments, leading to the need for ‘complex’ CPET technologies. Among non-invasive methods for Qc measurement during CPET, inert gas rebreathing and thoracic impedance cardiography are the most used techniques, both validated in healthy subjects and patients with HF, at rest and during exercise. On the other hand, the non-invasive assessment of peripheral muscle perfusion is possible with the application of near-infrared spectroscopy, capable of measuring tissue oxygenation. Measuring Qc allows, by having haemoglobin values available, to discriminate how much any VO2 deficit depends on the muscle, anaemia or he

The alveolar-capillary unit in the physiopathological conditions of heart failure: identification of a potential marker

C. Banfi, P. Gugliandolo, S. Paolillo, A. Mallia, E. Gianazza and P. Agostoni

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii2-ii8

In this review, we describe the structure and function of the alveolar-capillary membrane and the identification of a novel potential marker of its integrity in the context of heart failure (HF). The alveolar-capillary membrane is indeed a crucial structure for the maintenance of the lung parenchyma gas exchange capacity, and the occurrence of pathological conditions determining lung fluids accumulation, such as HF, might significantly impair lung diffusion capacity altering the alveolar-capillary membrane protective functions. In the years, we found that the presence of immature forms of the surfactant protein-type B (proSP-B) in the circulation reflects alterations in the alveolar-capillary membrane integrity. We discussed our main achievements showing that proSP-B, due to its chemical properties, specifically binds to high-density lipoprotein, impairing their antioxidant activity, and likely contributing to the progression of the disease. Further, we found that immature proSP-B, not the mature protein, is related to lung abnormalities, more precisely than the lung function parameters. Thus, to the list of the potential proposed markers of HF, we add proSP-B, which represents a precise marker of alveolar-capillary membrane dysfunction in HF, correlates with prognosis, and represents a precocious marker of drug therapy

Physiology of exercise and heart failure treatments: cardiopulmonary exercise testing as a tool for choosing the optimal therapeutic strategy

J. Campodonico, M. Contini, M. Alimento, M. Mapelli, E. Salvioni, I. Mattavelli, et al

Eur J Prev Cardiol 2023 Vol. 30 Issue Suppl 2 Pages ii54-ii62

In the last decades, the pharmacological treatment of heart failure (HF) become more complex due to the availability of new highly effective drugs. Although the cardiovascular effects of HF therapies have been extensively described, less known are their effects on cardiopulmonary function considered as a whole, both at rest and in response to exercise. This is a ‘holistic’ approach to disease treatment that can be accurately evaluated by a cardiopulmonary exercise test. The aim of this paper is to assess the main differences in the effects of different drugs [angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta-blockers, Angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors, renal sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors, iron supplementation] on cardiopulmonary function in patients with HF, both at rest and during exercise, and to understand how these differences can be taken into account when choosing the most appropriate treatment protocol for each individual patient leading to a precision medicine approach.