Impact of pregnancy and risk factors for ventricular arrhythmias in women with tetralogy of Fallot

Open Heart. 2021 Jan;8(1):e001400. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2020-001400.


Objective: Patients with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) have high survival rates 30 years after surgical repair. Many patients experience pregnancy; however, the effects of pregnancy on the long-term cardiovascular outcome are not well known. We investigated the association of pregnancy and cardiac function with occurrence of ventricular arrhythmia (VA) in women with TOF.

Methods: We recruited 80 women with repaired TOF from the national database. Holter monitoring or implanted devices detected VA, defined as non-sustained or sustained ventricular tachycardia or aborted cardiac arrest. All patients underwent echocardiography. Blood tests included NT-proBNP (N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide).

Results: 55 (69%) women had experienced pregnancy. Mean age was lower in nulliparous compared with those with children (30±9 vs 40±9, p<0.01).VA had occurred in 17 (21%) women. Prevalence of VA was higher in women who had experienced pregnancy (n=16, 94%) compared with nulliparous (n=1, 6%) (p=0.02), also when adjusted for age (OR 12.9 (95% CI 1.5 to 113.2), p=0.02).Right ventricular mechanical dispersion was more pronounced in patients with VA (50±8 ms vs 39±14 ms, p=0.01, age-adjusted OR 2.1 (95% CI 1.3 to 7.5), p=0.01). NT-proBNP was also a marker of VA (211 ng/L (127 to 836) vs 139 ng/L (30 to 465), p=0.007). NT-proBNP >321 ng/L (normal values <170 ng/L) detected women with VA (p=0.019), also independent of age (OR 7.2 (95% CI 1.7 to 30.1), p=0.007).

Conclusion: Pregnancy was associated with higher prevalence of VA among women with TOF. Right ventricular mechanical dispersion and NT-proBNP were age-independent markers of VA. These may have importance for pregnancy counselling and risk stratification.

Keywords: Fallots tetralogy; arrhythmias; echocardiography.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Echocardiography
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / diagnosis
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / etiology*
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / physiopathology
  • Tetralogy of Fallot / complications*
  • Tetralogy of Fallot / physiopathology