Cardiac involvement in Friedreich's ataxia: a clinical study of 75 patients

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1986 Jun;7(6):1370-8. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(86)80159-0.


To establish the prevalence and to characterize the types of cardiac involvement in Friedreich's ataxia, 75 consecutive patients (39 male and 36 female), aged 10 to 66 years (mean 24) were prospectively studied. Electrocardiograms were performed in all patients, vectorcardiograms in 34 and echocardiograms in 58. Electrocardiographic and vectorcardiographic abnormalities occurred in 69 (92%) of the 75 patients. Electrocardiograms revealed ST-T wave abnormalities in 79%, right axis deviation in 40%, short PR interval in 24%, abnormal R wave in lead V1 in 20%, abnormal inferolateral Q waves in 14% and left ventricular hypertrophy (voltage and repolarization criteria) in 16%. Echocardiograms revealed concentric left ventricular hypertrophy in 11%, asymmetric septal hypertrophy in 9% and globally decreased left ventricular function in 7%. Progression from a normal echocardiogram to concentric left ventricular hypertrophy, asymmetric septal hypertrophy or globally decreased left ventricular function was identified in one patient in each category, although the study was not designed for longitudinal follow-up. Two patients died, and necropsy revealed in both a minimally dilated but flabby left ventricle. On the basis of electrocardiographic and vectorcardiographic and echocardiographic data, 95% of patients had one or more disorders. The most common abnormality was segmental myocardial "dystrophy" (electrocardiographic QRS initial force abnormalities), but global left ventricular hypokinesia occurred more often than previously recognized.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiomegaly / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Child
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Friedreich Ataxia / complications*
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis
  • Heart Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vectorcardiography