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Impact of preprocedural white blood cell count on long term mortality after percutaneous coronary intervention: insights from the EPIC, EPILOG, and EPISTENT trials


Background: Raised inflammatory markers are associated with worse outcome after percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI). An increase in the white blood cell (WBC) count is a non-specific response to inflammation. We hypothesised that a raised baseline WBC count would be a predictor of mortality in patients undergoing PCI.

Methods: The association between preprocedural WBC count and long term mortality was studied in 7179 patients enrolled in the EPIC, EPILOG, and EPISTENT trials. The end points were the incidence of myocardial infarction at one year, and one and three year mortality.

Results: There were 188 deaths and 582 myocardial infarctions at one year. While WBC count was a strong predictor of death at one year, with every increase of 1 k/μl (1×106/l) being associated with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.109 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.072 to 1.147, p < 0.001), there was no association with myocardial infarction at one year (HR 1.020, 95% CI 0.990 to 1.052, p = 0.195). There were a total of 406 deaths at three years with a strong association between WBC count and three year mortality (HR for every 1 k/μl increase 1.089, 95% CI 1.058 to 1.121, p < 0.001). WBC count remained a significant predictor of mortality after multivariable adjustment (HR for every 1 k/μl increase 1.100, 95% CI 1.069 to 1.131, p < 0.001). The association was significant across multiple subgroups, including diabetes, female sex, clinical presentation, and cigarette smoking.

Conclusion: A raised pre-procedural WBC count in patients undergoing PCI is associated with an increased risk of long term death. These results suggest a key role for inflammation in coronary artery disease.

  • white blood cell count
  • percutaneous coronary intervention
  • inflammation
  • atherosclerosis
  • CK, creatine kinase
  • CRP, C reactive protein
  • EPIC, evaluation of 7E3 for the prevention of ischemic complications
  • EPILOG, evaluation in PTCA to improve long-term outcome with abciximab GP IIb/IIIa blockade
  • EPISTENT, evaluation of platelet IIb/IIIa inhibitor for stenting
  • HR, hazard ratio
  • PAMI, primary angioplasty in myocardial infarction
  • PCI, percutaneous coronary intervention
  • PTCA, percutaneous transluminal coronary balloon angioplasty

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