Hidden burden of arrhythmias in patients with small atrial septal defects: A nationwide study

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Background In recent Danish nationwide register-based study, adults with small, unrepaired atrial septal defects (ASD) have increased risk of pneumonia, atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke. Moreover, they revealed higher mortality than the background population. Objective In this nationwide study, we evaluate the hidden burden of atrial and ventricular arrhythmias in adult patients with a small, unrepaired ASD without a previous diagnosis of AF. Methods All Danish patients, aged 18-65, diagnosed between 1953 and 2011 with an unrepaired ASD and no documented AF were invited for 7 days Holter-recording, echocardiography and 6 min walk test. The first 48 hours Holter-recording was completely analysed, while only AF was screened for throughout all 7 days. Furthermore, the entire patient group were characterised using the unique Danish registries. Results A total of 151 patients (mean age 32 years) were included. Approximately 80% of the patients had spontaneous closure of their defect. Despite this, occult arrhythmias were frequent. The most common arrhythmia was supraventricular tachycardia (n=24, 16%) with non-sustained atrial arrhythmias in 21 patients and AF in two patients. A considerable number of patients had non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (n=12, 8%). Patients with ASD and tachyarrhythmias had increased right ventricular to left ventricular diastolic area in echocardiography and higher age when compared with ASD patients without arrhythmias. Conclusion Adult patients with small, unrepaired ASD have a hidden burden of both atrial and ventricular tachyarrhythmias. The mechanism likely relates to the residua of previous right-heart volume overload and incomplete reverse remodelling. Our results support guidelines recommending continued follow-up of patients with small, unrepaired ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001056
JournalOpen Heart
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • arrhythmias, atrial septal defects, congenital, epidemiology, focal atrial tachycardia, heart septal defect, non-sustained ventricular tachycardia

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