Progressive myocardial injury in myotonic dystrophy type II and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy 1: a cardiovascular magnetic resonance follow-up study

J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2021 Nov 8;23(1):130. doi: 10.1186/s12968-021-00812-6.


Aim: Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a progressive disease with predominantly muscular symptoms. Myotonic dystrophy type II (MD2) and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 1 (FSHD1) are gaining an increasing awareness, but data on cardiac involvement are conflicting. The aim of this study was to determine a progression of cardiac remodeling in both entities by applying cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) and evaluate its potential relation to arrhythmias as well as to conduction abnormalities.

Methods and results: 83 MD2 and FSHD1 patients were followed. The participation was 87% in MD2 and 80% in FSHD1. 1.5 T CMR was performed to assess functional parameters as well as myocardial tissue characterization applying T1 and T2 mapping, fat/water-separated imaging and late gadolinium enhancement. Focal fibrosis was detected in 23% of MD2) and 33% of FSHD1 subjects and fat infiltration in 32% of MD2 and 28% of FSHD1 subjects, respectively. The incidence of all focal findings was higher at follow-up. T2 decreased, whereas native T1 remained stable. Global extracellular volume fraction (ECV) decreased similarly to the fibrosis volume while the total cell volume remained unchanged. All patients with focal fibrosis showed a significant increase in left ventricular (LV) and right ventricular (RV) volumes. An increase of arrhythmic events was observed. All patients with ventricular arrhythmias had focal myocardial changes and an increased volume of both ventricles (LV end-diastolic volume (EDV) p = 0.003, RVEDV p = 0.031). Patients with supraventricular tachycardias had a significantly higher left atrial volume (p = 0.047).

Conclusion: We observed a remarkably fast and progressive decline of cardiac morphology and function as well as a progression of rhythm disturbances, even in asymptomatic patients with a potential association between an increase in arrhythmias and progression of myocardial tissue damage, such as focal fibrosis and fat infiltration, exists. These results suggest that MD2 and FSHD1 patients should be carefully followed-up to identify early development of remodeling and potential risks for the development of further cardiac events even in the absence of symptoms. Trial registration ISRCTN, ID ISRCTN16491505. Registered 29 November 2017 - Retrospectively registered,

Keywords: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 1; Fat; Fibrosis; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Myotonic dystrophy type 2; Remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiomyopathies* / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathies* / pathology
  • Contrast Media
  • Fibrosis
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Facioscapulohumeral* / diagnostic imaging
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Myotonic Dystrophy* / diagnostic imaging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN16491505