Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Ventricular Preexcitation in the Young: Cause and Accessory Pathway Characteristics

Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2023 Nov;16(11):e012191. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.123.012191. Epub 2023 Oct 25.


Background: The cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in the young is highly varied. Ventricular preexcitation (preexcitation) is well recognized, yet little is known about the specificity for any cause and the characteristics of the responsible accessory pathways (AP).

Methods: Retrospective cohort study of patients <21 years of age with HCM/preexcitation from 2000 to 2022. The cause of HCM was defined as isolated HCM, storage disorder, metabolic disease, or genetic syndrome. Atrioventricular AP (true AP) were distinguished from fasciculoventricular fibers (FVF) using standard invasive electrophysiology study criteria. AP were defined as high risk if any of the following were <250 ms: shortest preexcited RR interval in atrial fibrillation, shortest paced preexcited cycle length, or anterograde AP effective refractory period.

Results: We identified 345 patients with HCM and 28 (8%) had preexcitation (isolated HCM, 10/220; storage disorder, 8/17; metabolic disease, 5/19; and genetic syndrome, 5/89). Six (21%) patients had clinical atrial fibrillation (1 with shortest preexcited RR interval <250 ms). Twenty-two patients underwent electrophysiology study which identified 23 true AP and 16 FVF. Preexcitation was exclusively FVF mediated in 8 (36%) patients. Five (23%) patients had AP with high-risk conduction properties (including ≥1 patient in each etiologic group). Multiple AP were seen in 8 (36%) and AP plus FVF in 10 (45%) patients. Ablation was acutely successful in 13 of 14 patients with recurrence in 3. One procedure was complicated by complete heart block after ablation of a high-risk midseptal AP. There were significant differences in QRS amplitude and delta wave amplitude between groups. There were no surface ECG features that differentiated AP from FVF.

Conclusions: Young patients with HCM and preexcitation have a high likelihood of underlying storage disease or metabolic disease. Nonisolated HCM should be suspected in young patients with large QRS and delta wave amplitudes. Surface ECG is not adequate to discriminate preexcitation from a benign FVF from that secondary to potentially life-threatening AP.

Keywords: atrioventricular node; fasciculoventricular fiber; metabolic diseases; phenotype; prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Accessory Atrioventricular Bundle* / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic* / diagnosis
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases*
  • Pre-Excitation Syndromes* / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome* / surgery