Evolution of a hereditary cardiac conduction and muscle disorder: a study involving a family with six generations affected.
This study describes six generations of a family with autosomal dominant cardiac conduction system and myocardial disease with recognizable clinical stages. A 20 year follow-up of nine family members, a medical questionnaire of 196, electrocardiographic screening of 91, noninvasive testing of 20, and catheterization with endomyocardial biopsy of six are the basis of this report. The clinical stages are as follows: Stage I occurs in the second and third decades of life and is characterized by an absence of symptoms, normal heart size, sinus bradycardia, and premature atrial contractions. Stage II is marked by first-degree atrioventricular block in the third and fourth decades. Stage III occurs in the fourth and fifth decades and is accompanied by chest pain, fatigue, lightheadedness, and advanced atrioventricular block followed by the development of atrial fibrillation or flutter. Stage IV, in the fifth and sixth decades of life, is characterized by congestive heart failure and recurrent ventricular arrhythmias. Light microscopy of right ventricular endomyocardial biopsy specimens from patients in stage II revealed very mild fibrosis; electron microscopy of the specimens demonstrated mild dilatation of tubules, mitochondrial swelling, and minimal myofibrillar loss. Biopsy specimens from patients with stage III disease were similar to those from patients with stage II disease except for an increase of myofibrillar loss. The stage IV specimens had diffuse fibrosis and more severe tubular dilatation, mitochondrial cristolysis, and myofibrillar loss. At autopsy in the proband, the atrial changes were more severe than the ventricular and were especially marked in the sinoatrial and atrial myocardium. Early recognition of the disease and use of pacemakers and antiarrhythmic agents have proved beneficial for affected family members. Thorough family studies of patients with conduction system disease and/or dilated cardiomyopathy are necessary to better understand the hereditary basis and natural course of this category of disease.
- Copyright © 1986 by American Heart Association