Background: Subjects with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) do not generally suffer from significant cardiac symptoms. Although with heterogeneous results, studies reported to date indicate that heart alterations unrelated to cardiomyopathy are possible in FSHD.
Patients and methods: We describe the findings of a multicenter investigation aimed at detecting cardiac abnormalities in 83 FSHD patients, 44 males and 39 females with a mean age of 47 years. All patients underwent clinical heart examination, 12-lead electrocardiography and 24-hour Holter monitoring; echocardiography was also performed on most patients.
Results: Among the 83 patients, 62 with no cardiovascular risk factors were identified. Ten of them manifested clinical or subclinical cardiac involvement: 5 reported symptoms represented mostly by frequent palpitations secondary to supraventricular arrhythmia and another 5 exhibited electrocardiographic signs of short runs of supraventricular paroxysmal tachycardia. In the absence of cardiovascular risk factors, we found symptoms or signs of heart involvement of mainly arrhythmic origin in 10 of our 83 FSHD patients (12%).
Conclusions: Considering our data and those available in the literature as a whole, arrhythmic alterations seem to be detected more frequently than expected in FSHD patients.
Copyright 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.