Highly malignant disease in childhood-onset arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy

Eur Heart J. 2022 Dec 1;43(45):4694-4703. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehac485.


Aims: This study aimed to explore the incidence of severe cardiac events in paediatric arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) patients and ARVC penetrance in paediatric relatives. Furthermore, the phenotype in childhood-onset ARVC was described.

Methods: Consecutive ARVC paediatric patients and genotype positive relatives ≤18 years of age were followed with electrocardiographic, structural, and arrhythmic characteristics according to the 2010 revised Task Force Criteria. Penetrance of ARVC disease was defined as fulfilling definite ARVC criteria and severe cardiac events were defined as cardiac death, heart transplantation (HTx) or severe ventricular arrhythmias. Childhood-onset disease was defined as meeting definite ARVC criteria ≤12 years of age.

Results: Among 62 individuals [age 9.8 (5.0-14.0) years, 11 probands], 20 (32%) fulfilled definite ARVC diagnosis, of which 8 (40%) had childhood-onset disease. The incidence of severe cardiac events was 23% (n = 14) by last follow-up and half of them occurred in patients ≤12 years of age. Among the eight patients with childhood-onset disease, five had biventricular involvement needing HTx and three had severe arrhythmic events. Among the 51 relatives, 6% (n = 3) met definite ARVC criteria at time of genetic diagnosis, increasing to 18% (n = 9) at end of follow-up.

Conclusions: In a paediatric ARVC cohort, there was a high incidence of severe cardiac events and half of them occurred in children ≤12 years of age. The ARVC penetrance in genotype positive paediatric relatives was 18%. These findings of a high-malignant phenotype in childhood-onset ARVC indicate a need for ARVC family screening at younger age than currently recommended.

Keywords: Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Children; Disease penetrance; Family screening; Heart transplantation; Ventricular arrhythmia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / epidemiology
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors