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Open Heart. 2019 Oct 24;6(2):e001075. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2019-001075. eCollection 2019.

Echocardiography during submaximal isometric exercise in children with repaired coarctation of the aorta compared with controls.

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Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Department, UZ Gent, Gent, Belgium.



Patients with repaired coarctation (RCoA) remain at higher risk of cardiac dysfunction, initially often only detected during exercise. In this study, haemodynamics of isometric handgrip (HG) and bicycle ergometry (BE) were compared in patients with RCoA and matched controls (MCs).


Case-control study of 19 children with RCoA (mean age 12.9±2.3 years; mean age of repair 7 months) compared with 20 MC. HG with echocardiography followed by BE was performed in both groups.


During HG (blood pressure) BP increased from 114±11/64±4 mm Hg to 132±14/79±7 mm Hg, without significant differences. During HG as well as BE, HR increased less in patients with RCoA. There were no significant differences in (left ventricle) LV dimensions or LV mass.The RCoA group had diastolic dysfunction: both at rest and during HG they had significantly higher transmitral E and A velocities and lower tissue Doppler E' and A' velocities. E/E' was higher, reaching statistical significance during HG (p<0001).Conventional parameters of systolic function (FS and EF) were similar at rest and HG. More sensitive tissue Doppler S' was significantly lower at rest in CoA subjects (5.1±1.5 cm/s vs 6.5±1±1 cm/s; p<0.01), decreasing further during HG by 5% in the CoA group (NS) while unchanged in controls.


We provide first evidence that HG with echocardiography is feasible, easy and patient-friendly. A decreased systolic (tissue Doppler) and impaired diastolic LV function was measured in the RCoA group, a difference that tended to increase during HG.


congenital heart disease; hypertensive heart disease; paediatric cardiology; paediatric interventional cardiology; paediatric surgery

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