Steroid therapy and cardiac function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Pediatr Cardiol. Nov-Dec 2005;26(6):768-71. doi: 10.1007/s00246-005-0909-4.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy leads to progressive deterioration in skeletal and cardiac muscle function. Steroids prolong ambulation and improve respiratory muscle strength. The authors hypothesized that steroid treatment would stabilize cardiac muscle function. Echocardiograms performed from 1997 to 2004 for 111 subjects 21 years of age or younger with Duchenne muscular dystrophy were restrospectively reviewed. The medical record was reviewed for steroid treatment. Untreated and steroids-treated subjects did not differ in age, height, weight, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, or left ventricular mass. The shortening fraction was lower in the untreated group. Of those treated, 29 received prednisone and 19 received deflazacort. There was no difference in the shortening fraction between the two treated subgroups. Treated subjects not receiving steroids still had a normal shortening fraction, which was no different from the shortening fraction of those still receiving treatment. As compared with the treated subjects, the untreated subjects 10 years of age or younger were 4.4 times more likely to have a shortening fraction less than< 28% (p = 0.03), and the untreated subjects older than 10 years were 15.2 times more likely to have a shortening fraction less than< 28% (p < 0.01). This retrospective study suggests that the progressive decline in cardiac function of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can be altered by steroid treatment. The effect appears to be sustained beyond the duration of treatment and independent of steroid type.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / physiopathology
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Pregnenediones / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Function, Left / drug effects


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Pregnenediones
  • deflazacort
  • Prednisone