This study was designed to assess the prevalence of cardiac arrhythmias in a group of relatives of patients who had come to necropsy with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Another aim of the study was to assess the validity of an interventricular septal thickness of 1.3 cm or more, measured by echocardiography, as a diagnostic criterion of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy among relatives of cases proven at necropsy. Fifty close relatives of eight deceased patients were examined. By the above definition 22 relatives had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and 28 did not. A comparison of the prevalence and types of cardiac arrhythmias, as shown by 24 hour ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring, was made between the two groups and a third apparently healthy group of 40 people. The patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy showed a significant increase in supraventricular extrasystoles/24 hours, supraventricular arrhythmias, high grade ventricular arrhythmia, and the number of patients with more than 10 ventricular extrasystoles every 24 hours when compared with the other groups. There was no significant difference between normal relatives and controls. The prevalence and types of arrhythmia in these patients were similar to those found by other investigators using different diagnostic criteria. These results support the contention that these patients do indeed have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and suggest that all close relatives of necropsy proven cases should be examined by echocardiography and subsequently by ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring if the interventricular septal thickness is 1.3 more.
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