Flora Affuso

University of Naples Federico II, Napoli, Campania, Italy

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Publications (16)48.96 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: To test the efficacy of a proprietary nutraceutical combination in reducing insulin resistance associated with the metabolic syndrome (MetS). Sixty-four patients with MetS followed at a tertiary outpatient clinic were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or a proprietary nutraceutical combination (AP) consisting of berberine, policosanol and red yeast rice, in a prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Evaluations were performed at baseline and after 18 wk of treatment. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index was the primary outcome measure. Secondary endpoints included lipid panel, blood glucose and insulin fasting, after a standard mixed meal and after an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), flow-mediated dilation (FMD), and waist circumference. Fifty nine patients completed the study, 2 withdrew because of adverse effects. After 18 wk there was a significant reduction in the HOMA-IR index in the AP group compared with placebo (ΔHOMA respectively -0.6 ± 1.2 vs 0.4 ± 1.9; P < 0.05). Total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol also significantly decreased in the treatment arm compared with placebo (Δlow density lipoprotein cholesterol -0.82 ± 0.68 vs -0.13 ± 0.55 mmol/L; P < 0.001), while triglycerides, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and the OGTT were not affected. In addition, there were significant reductions in blood glucose and insulin after the standard mixed meal, as well as an increase in FMD (ΔFMD 1.9 ± 4.2 vs 0 ± 1.9 %; P < 0.05) and a significant reduction in arterial systolic blood pressure in the AP arm. This short-term study shows that AP has relevant beneficial effects on insulin resistance and many other components of MetS.
    World Journal of Cardiology (WJC) 03/2012; 4(3):77-83.
  • Journal of The American College of Cardiology - J AMER COLL CARDIOL. 01/2011; 57(14).
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. Anorexia nervosa is a condition of reduced hemodynamic load, characterized by varying degrees of cardiac remodelling, only in part related to reduced body mass; the mechanism for such variability, as well as its clinical significance, remains unknown. Aim of the study was to assess the possible influence of a great number of clinical, biochemical, and endocrine factors on cardiovascular parameters in restrictive anorexia nervosa. Method. Twenty-five female patients hospitalized for restrictive anorexia nervosa underwent extensive cardiovascular, clinical, and biochemical evaluation. Results. Height-adjusted and cardiac workload-matched left ventricular mass was significantly related to several endocrine parameters, blood pressure, and vasoreactivity. On multivariate analysis, IGF/GH ratio and systolic blood pressure were the only independent predictors of height-adjusted ventricular mass (adj-R(2) = 0.585; P = 0.001); when matching for cardiac workload, left ventricular mass was independently predicted only by GH and FT3 levels. All effects were independent of patient's weight and BMI. Conclusions. Indices of endocrine impairment seem to be the most relevant determinants of left ventricular hypotrophy in anorectic patients, apparently independent of reduced hemodynamic load and BMI. In particular, IGF/GH ratio and FT3 seem to particularly affect left ventricular mass in this population.
    ISRN endocrinology. 01/2011; 2011:171460.
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate efficacy and tolerability of the combination valsartan plus hydrochlorothiazide (160 mg and 25 mg daily, respectively) in young-middle aged males with high-normal blood pressure (BP) or first-degree arterial hypertension with evidence of target organ damage. Twenty males with high-normal BP or first-degree hypertension associated with left ventricular concentric remodeling and/or increased aortic stiffness were enrolled. BP at rest and during exercise, and echocardiographic parameters of the left ventricle (LV), were evaluated at baseline and after 3 mo of treatment. The effects of treatment on aortic stiffness, metabolic parameters, renal and erectile function were also assessed. BP was significantly reduced by treatment both at rest (P < 0.001) and during exercise (P < 0.001), and 85% of patients achieved BP normalization (< 130/85 mmHg). Doppler echocardiography showed a significant reduction of LV mass (P < 0.005). LV hypertrophy was identified in 70% of subjects at baseline and in 5% after 3 mo of treatment. The ratio of early (E) to late (A) trans-mitral diastolic flow velocity increased, (P < 0.05), the relative wall thickness decreased (P < 0.05) and the left ventricular relaxation time shortened (P < 0.005). The left atrial diameter (P < 0.05) and the aortic diameter (P < 0.05) and stiffness (P < 0.005) also decreased. The full-dose combination of valsartan plus hydrochlorothiazide produced optimal BP control with regression of target organ damage, already after 3 mo, without relevant side effects.
    World Journal of Cardiology (WJC) 05/2010; 2(5):125-30.
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    ABSTRACT: Berberine (BBR) is a natural alkaloid isolated from the Coptis Chinensis. While this plant has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for more than 2500 years, interest in its effects in metabolic and cardiovascular disease has been growing in the Western world in the last decade. Many papers have been published in these years reporting beneficial effects in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, endothelial function and the cardiovascular system. In this review, we report a detailed analysis of the scientific literature regarding this topic, describing the effects and the underlying mechanisms of BBR on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, endothelial function and the cardiovascular system.
    World Journal of Cardiology (WJC) 04/2010; 2(4):71-7.
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    ABSTRACT: We report the long-term follow-up of 3 cases of severe idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, in whom tadalafil plus sitaxentan combination therapy improved the clinical condition and exercise performance without any relevant adverse event.
    World Journal of Cardiology (WJC) 03/2010; 2(3):68-70.
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    ABSTRACT: Some nutraceuticals are prescribed as lipid-lowering substances. However, doubts remain about their efficacy. We evaluated the effects of a nutraceutical combination (NC), consisting of 500 mg berberine, 200mg red yeast rice and 10mg policosanols, on cholesterol levels and endothelial function in patients with hypercholesterolemia. In this single centre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 50 hypercholesterolemic patients (26 males and 24 females, mean age 55±7 years, total cholesterol 6.55±0.75 mmol/l, BMI 28±3.5) were randomized to 6 weeks of treatment with a daily oral dose of NC (25 patients) or placebo (25 patients). In a subsequent open-label extension of 4 weeks, the whole sample received NC. The main outcome measure was decrease total cholesterol (C) levels in the NC arm. Secondary outcome measures were decreased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglyceride levels, and improved endothelial-dependent flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and insulin sensitivity in relation to NC. Evaluation of absolute changes from baseline showed significant reductions in NC versus placebo for C and LDL-C (C: -1.14±0.88 and -0.03±0.78 mmol/l, p<0.001; LDL-C: -1.06±0.75 and -00.4±0.54 mmol/l, p<0.001), and a significant improvement of FMD (3±4% and 0±3% respectively, p<0.05). After the extension phase, triglyceride levels decreased significantly from 1.57±0.77 to 1.26±0.63 mmol/l, p<0.05 and insulin sensitivity improved in a patient subgroup with insulin resistance at baseline (HOMA: from 3.3±0.4 to 2.5±1.3, p<0.05). No adverse effect was reported. This NC reduces cholesterol levels. The reduction is associated with improved endothelial function and insulin sensitivity.
    Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases: NMCD 08/2009; 20(9):656-61. · 3.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) axis regulates cardiac growth, stimulates myocardial contractility and influences the vascular system. The GH/IGF-1 axis controls intrinsic cardiac contractility by enhancing the intracellular calcium availability and regulating expression of contractile proteins; stimulates cardiac growth, by increasing protein synthesis; modifies systemic vascular resistance, by activating the nitric oxide system and regulating non-endothelial-dependent actions. The relationship between the GH/IGF-1 axis and the cardiovascular system has been extensively demonstrated in numerous experimental studies and confirmed by the cardiac derangements secondary to both GH excess and deficiency. Several years ago, a clinical non-blinded study showed, in seven patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and chronic heart failure (CHF), a significant improvement in cardiac function and structure after three months of treatment with recombinant GH plus standard therapy for heart failure. More recent studies, including a small double-blind placebo-controlled study on GH effects on exercise tolerance and cardiopulmonary performance, have shown that GH benefits patients with CHF secondary to both ischemic and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. However, conflicting results emerge from other placebo-controlled trials. These discordant findings may be explained by the degree of CHF-associated GH resistance. In conclusion, we believe that more clinical and experimental studies are necessary to exactly understand the mechanisms that determine the variable sensitivity to GH and its positive effects in the failing heart.
    Current Cardiology Reviews 08/2009; 5(3):203-15.
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    ABSTRACT: Recent application of brain natriuretic peptide and N-terminal prohormone brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) in cardiac valvular disease is very promising. To test the usefulness of NT-proBNP in the assessment of patients with aortic or mitral regurgitation. Sixty-seven patients - 23 with aortic and 12 with mitral regurgitation vs. 32 controls - were examined by color Doppler echocardiography, cardiopulmonary exercise testing, Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLWHFQ) and plasma NT-proBNP assay at rest (T0) and after maximal physical exercise (T1). NT-proBNP was significantly higher in patients than in controls, both at T0 (298 +/- 85 vs. 46 +/- 11 pg/ml; P < 0.01) and at T1 (366 +/- 106 vs. 50 +/- 12 pg/ml; P < 0.01). MLWHFQ score was significantly higher in patients (19 +/- 3 vs. 1 +/- 0.6; P < 0.001) with a significant inverse correlation with VO2max (r = -0.538, P < 0.001) and a direct correlation with NT-proBNP (T0: r = 0.415, P < 0.01; T1: r = 0.458, P < 0.01). NT-proBNP was inversely correlated with VO2max (T0: r = -0.444, P < 0.001; T1:r = -0.428, P < 0.001) and directly correlated with left atrial diameter (T0: r = 0.370, P < 0.01; T1: r = 0.409, P = 0.001), and left ventricular mass index (r = 0.279, P < 0.01, and r = 0.272, P < 0.01). No correlations were found between echocardiographic parameters of valvular disease severity and VO2max, NT-proBNP and MLWHFQ. NT-proBNP is useful in the assessment of the cardiac functional damage secondary to mitral and aortic regurgitation.
    Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine 07/2009; 10(12):928-32. · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Migraine is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but the mechanisms are unclear. To investigate the activity of endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in patients with migraine. Case-control study of 12 patients with migraine without aura and 12 matched healthy control subjects. Endothelial and VSMC components of vascular reactivity were explored by plethysmography measurement of forearm blood flow (FBF) during infusions of vasoactive agents into the brachial artery. Forearm production of nitric oxide (NO) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) was also quantified. In patients with migraine, the vasodilating effect of acetylcholine (ACh), an endothelium-dependent vasodilator, was markedly reduced (p < 0.001 by analysis of variance). In response to the highest dose of ACh, FBF rose to 8.6 +/- 2.2 in patients with migraine and to 22.7 +/- 3.0 mL x dL(-1) x min(-1) in controls (p = 0.001). The dose-response curve to nitroprusside, a vasodilator directly acting on VSMCs, was depressed in patients with migraine (p < 0.001 by analysis of variance). The maximal response of FBF to nitroprusside was 12.1 +/- 2.0 in patients with migraine and 24.1 +/- 1.8 mL x dl(-1) x min(-1) in controls (p < 0.001). During ACh infusion, NO release from the endothelium was similar in patients and controls. In contrast, there was a marked release of cGMP from VSMCs in controls, but not in patients with migraine (-1.9 +/- 2.2 in patients with migraine and -19.1 +/- 5.4 nmol x dL(-1) x min(-1) in controls; p = 0.03). Patients with migraine are characterized by a distinct vascular smooth muscle cell dysfunction, revealed by impaired cyclic guanosine monophosphate and hemodynamic response to nitric oxide.
    Neurology 07/2009; 72(24):2111-4. · 8.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Myocarditis is an inflammatory heart muscle disease, resulting from various etiologies, both noninfectious and infectious, which may be associated or not with cardiac dysfunction. Its course is unpredictable: it may spontaneously resolve or evolve into dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure. A possible connection between myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy has long been postulated, but the intimate mechanisms linking these two conditions are still poorly understood. Viral myocarditis could induce a dilated cardiomyopathy through viral persistence and/or by triggering an autoimmune process. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the relationship between myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy will help in identifying an effective strategy of treatment aimed to stop and prevent cardiac damage. Specifically, we need to (a) evaluate the potential role of autoantibodies in disease prevention and progression, and understand their importance as markers of disease progression; (b) clarify the role of immunoregulation in exacerbating the disease.
    Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine 08/2008; 9(7):666-71. · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Because GH exerted beneficial effects in various experimental models of heart failure, we investigated the effects of GH on physical exercise capacity and cardiopulmonary performance in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and chronic heart failure (CHF). Twenty-two patients with CHF (New York Heart Association functional class II-III) underwent spirometry and a symptom-limited, cardiopulmonary exercise testing before and after 3 months of GH (n = 11; seven males; seven idiopathic; 57 +/- 11 yr; 4 IU sc every other day) or placebo (n = 11; eight males; six idiopathic; 54 +/- 10 yr) administration, in a randomized, double-blind trial. Background CHF therapy remained unchanged. GH, but not placebo, increased IGF-I serum concentration (from 144 +/- 35 to 293 +/- 58 ng/ml; P < 0.005) and improved New York Heart Association functional class (from 2.4 +/- 0.5 to 1.8 +/- 0.4; P < 0.005), exercise duration (from 831 +/- 273 to 925 +/- 266 sec; P < 0.005), peak power output (from 245 +/- 127 to 280 +/- 132 W; P < 0.05), peak minute ventilation (from 52.5 +/- 16.1 to 61.3 +/- 17.3 liters/min; P < 0.05), peak oxygen consumption (from 19.8 +/- 5.6 to 25.1 +/- 5.6 ml/kg.min; P < 0.005), and anaerobic threshold (from 14.9 +/- 4.8 to 20.0 +/- 4.5 ml/kg.min; P < 0.005) without affecting lung function parameters. Furthermore, the slope of the relationship between minute ventilation and pulmonary carbon dioxide production (ventilatory efficiency) decreased from 34.7 +/- 5.1 to 31.7 +/- 5.3 (P < 0.005), whereas the slope of the relation between percent predicted heart rate reserve used and percent observed metabolic reserve used (chronotropic index) rose from 0.57 +/- 0.20 to 0.69 +/- 0.18 (P < 0.005). Given the predictive value of physical exercise capacity and cardiopulmonary performance in CHF progression, these data provide additional insights into the mechanisms by which GH may potentially benefit CHF patients.
    Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &amp Metabolism 11/2007; 92(11):4218-23. · 6.43 Impact Factor
  • The American journal of medicine 04/2007; 120(4):e11. · 5.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pulmonary arterial hypertension has a poor prognosis quoad vitam et valitudinem. Herein, we report on a middle-aged woman affected by idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension whose quality of life and exercise tolerance improved remarkably after a six-month course of treatment with the long-acting phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor tadalafil.
    International Journal of Cardiology 05/2006; 108(3):429-31. · 6.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although many observers consider the cardiovascular risk associated with isolated prehypertension to be low and not worth pharmacological treating, the cardiovascular disease rate is increased among individuals within this blood pressure stratum. We performed Doppler echocardiography and submaximal bicycle ergometry in 20 nonsmoking sedentary prehypertensive subjects and 20 age- and sex-matched nonsmoking sedentary normotensive subjects, and investigated the association between the systolic blood pressure response to exercise (SBPRE) and hypertensive target organ damage. An exaggerated SBPRE (E-SBPRE) and a normal SBPRE (N-SBPRE) were diagnosed using the mean +2 standard deviations of systolic blood pressure at 100 W in normotensives. Body mass index was similar in the two groups. Resting blood pressure and systemic vascular resistance were higher in prehypertensives. Almost half the latter had an E-SBPRE. There were no differences in age, gender, and body mass index between normotensives and prehypertensives with an E-SBPRE or a N-SBPRE. Resting blood pressure and systemic vascular resistance were similarly increased in prehypertensives with an E-SBPRE and a N-SBPRE vs normotensives. Compared with normotensives, prehypertensives with an E-SBPRE showed: (a) a significantly greater left ventricular relative wall thickness, mostly due to a smaller cavity, (b) a significantly longer left ventricular isovolumic relaxation time, and (c) a significantly greater global arterial stiffness, as estimated by the pulse pressure/left ventricular stroke volume ratio. Our findings suggest that an E-SBPRE is frequent among prehypertensive subjects and is associated with cardiovascular remodeling, which may herald cardiovascular disease.
    Italian heart journal: official journal of the Italian Federation of Cardiology 12/2005; 6(11):886-92.
  • Annals of internal medicine 12/2004; 141(9):743-4. · 13.98 Impact Factor