Childhood Bradycardia Associates With Atrioventricular Conduction Defects in Older Age: A Longitudinal Birth Cohort Study

J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Oct 5;10(19):e021877. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.021877. Epub 2021 Sep 25.


Background This study explored the association between childhood bradycardia and later-life cardiac phenotype using longitudinal data from the 1946 National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) birth cohort. Methods and Results Resting heart rate was recorded at 6 and 7 years of age to provide the bradycardia exposure defined as a childhood resting heart rate <75 bpm. Three outcomes were studied: (1) echocardiographic data at 60 to 64 years of age, consisting of ejection fraction, left ventricular mass index, myocardial contraction fraction index, and E/e'; (2) electrocardiographic evidence of atrioventricular or ventricular conduction defects by 60 to 64 years of age; and (3) all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Generalized linear models or Cox regression models were used, and adjustment was made for relevant demographic and health-related covariates, and for multiple testing. Mixed generalized linear models and fractional polynomials were used as sensitivity analyses. One in 3 older adults with atrioventricular conduction defects had been bradycardic in childhood, with defects being serious (Mobitz type II second-degree atrioventricular block or higher) in 12%. In fully adjusted models, childhood bradycardia was associated with 2.91 higher odds of atrioventricular conduction defects (95% CI, 1.59-5.31; P=0.0005). Associations persisted in random coefficients mixed generalized linear models (odds ratio, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.01-4.31). Fractional polynomials confirmed a linear association between the log odds of atrioventricular conduction defects at 60 to 64 years of age and resting heart rate at 7 years of age. There was no association between bradycardia in childhood and mortality outcomes or with echocardiographic parameters and ventricular conduction defects in older age. Conclusions Longitudinal birth cohort data indicate that childhood bradycardia trebles the odds of having atrioventricular conduction defects in older age, 88% of which are benign. In addition, it does not influence mortality or heart size and function. Future research should concentrate on identifying children at risk.

Keywords: atrioventricular conduction defects; cardiovascular disease; childhood bradycardia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't