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      Antiphospholipid syndrome; its implication in cardiovascular diseases: a review

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          Antiphospholipid syndrome (APLS) is a rare syndrome mainly characterized by several hyper-coagulable complications and therefore, implicated in the operated cardiac surgery patient. APLS comprises clinical features such as arterial or venous thromboses, valve disease, coronary artery disease, intracardiac thrombus formation, pulmonary hypertension and dilated cardiomyopathy. The most commonly affected valve is the mitral, followed by the aortic and tricuspid valve. For APLS diagnosis essential is the detection of so-called antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) as anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) or lupus anticoagulant (LA). Minor alterations in the anticoagulation, infection, and surgical stress may trigger widespread thrombosis. The incidence of thrombosis is highest during the following perioperative periods: preoperatively during the withdrawal of warfarin, postoperatively during the period of hypercoagulability despite warfarin or heparin therapy, or postoperatively before adequate anticoagulation achievement. Cardiac valvular pathology includes irregular thickening of the valve leaflets due to deposition of immune complexes that may lead to vegetations and valve dysfunction; a significant risk factor for stroke. Patients with APLS are at increased risk for thrombosis and adequate anticoagulation is of vital importance during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). A successful outcome requires multidisciplinary management in order to prevent thrombotic or bleeding complications and to manage perioperative anticoagulation. More work and reporting on anticoagulation management and adjuvant therapy in patients with APLS during extracorporeal circulation are necessary.

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          The antiphospholipid syndrome.

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            Long-term outcome of fulminant myocarditis as compared with acute (nonfulminant) myocarditis.

            Lymphocytic myocarditis causes left ventricular dysfunction that may be persistent or reversible. There are no clinical criteria that predict which patients will recover ventricular function and which cases will progress to dilated cardiomyopathy. We hypothesized that patients with fulminant myocarditis may have a better long-term prognosis than those with acute (nonfulminant) myocarditis. We identified 147 patients considered to have myocarditis according to the findings on endomyocardial biopsy and the Dallas histopathological criteria. Fulminant myocarditis was diagnosed on the basis of clinical features at presentation, including the presence of severe hemodynamic compromise, rapid onset of symptoms, and fever. Patients with acute myocarditis did not have these features. The incidence of the end point of this study, death or heart transplantation, was ascertained by contact with the patient or the patient's family or by a search of the National Death Index. The average period of follow-up was 5.6 years. A total of 15 patients met the criteria for fulminant myocarditis, and 132 met the criteria for acute myocarditis. Among the patients with fulminant myocarditis, 93 percent were alive without having received a heart transplant 11 years after biopsy (95 percent confidence interval, 59 to 99 percent), as compared with only 45 percent of those with acute myocarditis (95 percent confidence interval, 30 to 58 percent; P=0.05 by the log-rank test). Fulminant myocarditis was an independent predictor of survival after adjustments were made for age, histopathological findings, and hemodynamic variables. The rate of transplantation-free survival did not differ significantly between the patients considered to have borderline myocarditis and those considered to have active myocarditis according to the Dallas histopathological criteria. Fulminant myocarditis is a distinct clinical entity with an excellent long-term prognosis. Aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted for patients with this condition.
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              Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome. Clinical and laboratory features of 50 patients.

              We analyzed the clinical and laboratory characteristics of 50 patients with catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) (5 from our clinics and 45 from a MEDLINE computer-assisted review of the literature from 1992 through 1996). Thirty-three (66%) patients were female and 17 (34%) were male. Twenty-eight (56%) patients had primary APS, 15 (30%) had defined systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 6 (12%) had "lupus-like" syndrome, and 1 (2%) had rheumatoid arthritis. Mean age of patients in this series was 38 +/- 14 years (range, 11-74 yr). Three (6%) patients developed the clinical picture of catastrophic APS under the age of 15 years, and 11 (22%) were 50 years old or more. In 11 (22%) patients, precipitating factors contributed to the development of catastrophic APS (infections in 3, drugs in 3, minor surgical procedures in 3, anticoagulation withdrawal in 2, and hysterectomy in 1). The presentation of the acute multi-organ failure was usually complex, involving multiple organs simultaneously or in a very short period of time. The majority of patients manifested microangiopathy--that is, occlusive vascular disease affecting predominantly small vessels of organs, particularly kidney, lungs, brain, heart, and liver--with a minority of patients experiencing only large vessel occlusions. Thrombocytopenia was reported in 34 (68%) patients, hemolytic anemia in 13 (26%), disseminated intravascular coagulation in 14 (28%), and schistocytes in 7 (14%). The following antibodies were detected: lupus anticoagulant (94%), anticardiolipin antibodies (94%), anti-dsDNA (87% of patients with SLE), antinuclear antibodies (58%), anti-Ro/SS-A (8%), anti-RNP (8%), and anti-La/SS-B (2%). Anticoagulation was used in 70% of the patients, steroids in 70%, plasmapheresis in 40%, cyclophosphamide in 34%, intravenous gammaglobulins in 16%, and splenectomy in 4%. Most patients, however, received a combination of nonsurgical therapies. Death occurred in 25 of the 50 (50%) patients. In most, cardiac problems seemed to be the major cause of death. In several of these, respiratory failure was also present, usually due to acute respiratory distress syndrome and diffuse alveolar hemorrhage. Among the 20 patients who received the combination of anticoagulation, steroids, and plasmapheresis or intravenous gammaglobulins, recovery occurred in 14 (70%) patients. The use of ancrod and defibrotide appeared to be effective in the 2 respective patients in whom they were used.

                Author and article information

                J Cardiothorac Surg
                Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
                BioMed Central
                3 November 2010
                : 5
                : 101
                [1 ]Cardiothoracic Surgery Department. University of Patras, School of Medicine. Patras Greece
                [2 ]Cardiac Surgery Department. University of Ioannina, School of Medicine. Ioannina Greece
                [3 ]Department of Clinical Anaesthesiology and Intensive Postoperative Care Unit. University of Ioannina, School of Medicine. Ioannina Greece
                [4 ]Cardiology Department. University of Ioannina, School of Medicine. Ioannina Greece
                Copyright ©2010 Koniari et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.




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