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Heart murmurs are common in children and may represent congenital or acquired cardiac pathology. Auscultation is challenging and many primary-care physicians lack the skill to differentiate innocent from pathologic murmurs. We sought to determine whether computer-aided auscultation (CardioscanTM) identifies which children require referral to a cardiologist.
We consecutively enrolled children aged between 0 and 17 years with a murmur, innocent or pathologic, being evaluated in a tertiary-care cardiology clinic. Children being evaluated for the first time and patients with known cardiac pathology were eligible. We excluded children who had undergone cardiac surgery previously or were unable to sit still for auscultation. CardioscanTM auscultation was performed in a quiet room with the subject in the supine position. The sensitivity and specificity of a potentially pathologic murmur designation by CardioscanTM – that is, requiring referral – was determined using echocardiography as the reference standard.
We enrolled 126 subjects (44% female) with a median age of 1.7 years, with 93 (74%) having cardiac pathology. The sensitivity and specificity of a potentially pathologic murmur determination by CardioscanTM for identification of cardiac pathology were 83.9 and 30.3%, respectively, versus 75.0 and 71.4%, respectively, when limited to subjects with a heart rate of 50–120 beats per minute. The combination of a CardioscanTM potentially pathologic murmur designation or an abnormal electrocardiogram improved sensitivity to 93.5%, with no haemodynamically significant lesions missed.
Sensitivity of CardioscanTM when interpreted in conjunction with an abnormal electrocardiogram was high, although specificity was poor. Re-evaluation of computer-aided auscultation will remain necessary as advances in this technology become available.
Marfan syndrome causes aortic dilation leading to dissection and death. This systematic review examined the use of beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers in the management of aortic dilation in this disease.
We searched four databases – Medline, EMBASE, Web of Science, and The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials – two conference proceedings, references of retrieved articles, and a web-based trial registry. The primary outcome was mortality. The secondary outcomes were aortic dissection, need for elective surgical repair, change in aortic dilation, and adverse events. Two reviewers selected studies, abstracted data, and assessed study quality. Meta-analyses were not performed because of study heterogeneity.
A total of 18 studies were included – 12 completed and six in progress. Of the completed studies, three before-and-after treatment, one prospective cohort, three retrospective cohorts, and two randomised control trials examined beta-blockers; one randomised and one non-randomised trial examined angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors; and one retrospective cohort study examined angiotensin II receptor blockers. Studies in progress are all randomised trials. Mortality was not impacted by drug therapy, although studies were underpowered with respect to this outcome. All drug classes were associated with a decrease in the rate of aortic dilation (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers >beta-blockers); none had an impact on other secondary outcomes.
On the basis of existing evidence, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers slow the progression of aortic dilation in Marfan syndrome. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers may have more effect than beta-blockers; however, more methodologically rigorous studies currently in progress are needed to evaluate the impact of drug therapy on clinical outcomes.
To identify risk factors for loss to cardiology follow-up among children and young adults with congenital heart disease.
We used a matched case-control design. Cases were born before January, 2001 with moderate or complex congenital heart disease and were previously followed up in the paediatric or adult cardiology clinic, but not seen for 3 years or longer. Controls had been seen within 3 years. Controls were matched 3:1 to cases by year of birth and congenital heart disease lesion. Medical records were reviewed for potential risk factors for loss to follow-up. A subset of cases and controls participated in recorded telephone interviews.
A total of 74 cases (66% male) were compared with 222 controls (61% male). A history of missed cardiology appointments was predictive of loss to follow-up for 3 years or longer (odds ratio 13.0, 95% confidence interval 3.3–51.7). Variables protective from loss to follow-up were higher family income (odds ratio 0.87 per $10,000 increase, 0.77–0.98), cardiac catheterisation within 5 years (odds ratio 0.2, 95% confidence interval 0.1–0.6), and chart documentation of the need for cardiology follow-up (odds ratio 0.4, 95% confidence interval 0.2–0.8). Cases lacked awareness of the importance of follow-up and identified primary care physicians as their primary source of information about the heart, rather than cardiologists. Unlike cases, controls had methods to remember appointments.
A history of one or more missed cardiology appointments predicted loss to follow-up for 3 or more years, as did lack of awareness of the need for follow-up. Higher family income, recent catheterisations, and medical record documentation of the need for follow-up were protective.
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