Arrhythmia Burden and Heart Rate Response During Exercise in Anderson-Fabry Disease

Tex Heart Inst J. 2022 Sep 1;49(5):e207363. doi: 10.14503/THIJ-20-7363.


Patients with Anderson-Fabry disease (AFD) have an elevated incidence of resting arrhythmias and ischemic heart disease, but their exercise arrhythmia burden and ischemic changes are not well understood. In addition, little research has been done on heart rate recovery in these patients. We retrospectively reviewed charts of patients with AFD who underwent maximal effort cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) (n=44; 38.2 ± 13.8 yr; 23 men) from 2012 through 2018. Electrocardiographic, Holter monitoring, echocardiographic, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and patient demographic data were collected. No patient had adverse events that necessitated CPET termination, whereas 25 (57%) had ectopy during CPET, including 3 (7%) with frequent premature atrial contractions and 5 (11%) with frequent premature ventricular contractions. The ectopic burden was higher during resting electrocardiographic monitoring before exercise. In addition, 7 patients (16%) had pathologic ST-segment or T-wave changes on CPET, defined as ST-segment changes ≥2 mm. Among the patients who had concurrent cardiac magnetic resonance findings with their CPET (n=27), ST-segment or T-wave changes were associated with left ventricular myocardial mass (r=0.43, P=0.02). Chronotropic incompetence was seen during CPET in 28 patients (64%); however, only 2 patients (4%) had abnormal heart rate recovery at 1 minute. This study shows that patients with AFD can safely undergo exercise testing but have a high incidence of exercise-induced arrhythmias and ischemic changes. Ischemic electrocardiographic changes during exercise testing are associated with myocardial mass. Despite the chronotropic incompetence associated with AFD, heart rate recovery appears to be generally preserved in these patients.

Keywords: Anderson-Fabry disease/complications; Arrhythmia; cardiopulmonary exercise test; echocardiography; electrocardiography; exercise tolerance; heart rate recovery; heart rate response.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Fabry Disease*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ventricular Premature Complexes* / diagnosis
  • Ventricular Premature Complexes* / etiology

Grants and funding

Funding/Support: None