Effect of long-term glucocorticoid therapy on cardiac functions in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2021 Feb;94(2):210-218. doi: 10.1111/cen.14333. Epub 2020 Dec 21.


Background: Glucocorticoids play an important role in cardiac physiology. Chronic exposure and higher doses may cause adverse effects on the myocardium, especially in young patients receiving long-term therapy.

Objective: To assess cardiac function in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and its relation to glucocorticoid dose and therapy duration.

Methods: Forty-seven patients with CAH due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency were compared to 47 controls. Patients were subdivided according to treatment duration (Group A: less than 6 years, Group B: more than 6 years). Mean daily glucocorticoid and cumulative glucocorticoid doses were calculated. Echocardiography was performed for patients and controls to evaluate cardiac functions, chamber dimensions and tissue Doppler valvular status.

Results: Compared to controls, patients had cardiac chamber hypertrophy reflected by higher M-mode dimensions. Patients had lower fractional shortening, defective ventricular relaxation, lower average mitral and tricuspid e´/a´ ratios (e´ early diastolic, a´ late diastolic) as well as s´ (systolic) velocities, higher average mitral E/e ratio and higher left ventricle TDI Tei index (P < .05). Group B had lower average mitral e´/a´ and tricuspid s´ velocities, and higher average mitral E/e ratio (P < .05). Cumulative glucocorticoid dose significantly correlated with different echocardiographic parameters.

Conclusion: Long-term glucocorticoid therapy even within the recommended therapeutic range adversely affects cardiac functions in children with 21-hydroxylase deficiency.

Keywords: adrenal; androgens; cardiac; congenital adrenal hyperplasia; cumulative; glucocorticoids.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital* / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Diastole
  • Echocardiography
  • Glucocorticoids* / adverse effects
  • Heart
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Humans


  • Glucocorticoids