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Limited data exist on training of European paediatric and adult congenital cardiologists.
A structured and approved questionnaire was circulated to national delegates of Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology in 33 European countries.
Delegates from 30 countries (91%) responded. Paediatric cardiology was not recognised as a distinct speciality by the respective ministry of Health in seven countries (23%). Twenty countries (67%) have formally accredited paediatric cardiology training programmes, seven (23%) have substantial informal (not accredited or certified) training, and three (10%) have very limited or no programme. Twenty-two countries have a curriculum. Twelve countries have a national training director. There was one paediatric cardiology centre per 2.66 million population (range 0.87–9.64 million), one cardiac surgical centre per 4.73 million population (range 1.63–10.72 million), and one training centre per 4.29 million population (range 1.63–10.72 million population). The median number of paediatric cardiology fellows per training programme was 4 (range 1–17), and duration of training was 3 years (range 2–5 years). An exit examination in paediatric cardiology was conducted in 16 countries (53%) and certification provided by 20 countries (67%). Paediatric cardiologist number is affected by gross domestic product (R2 = 0.41).
Training varies markedly across European countries. Although formal fellowship programmes exist in many countries, several countries have informal training or no training. Only a minority of countries provide both exit examination and certification. Harmonisation of training and standardisation of exit examination and certification could reduce variation in training thereby promoting high-quality care by European congenital cardiologists.
We treated prospectively 14 patients with Eisenmenger's syndrome, with a mean age of 10 years, ranging from 3 to 18 years. Treatment continued for 12 months, and demonstrated a lasting symptomatic improvement, but no improvement in terms of mean saturation of oxygen over 24 hours. Exercise capacity, as judged by peak uptake of oxygen, worsened in the six patients able to perform a treadmill test. The symptomatic benefit from dual blockage of endothelin receptors in these patients may be due to mechanisms other than selective pulmonary vasodilatation alone.
We describe an infant with an atrioventricular septal defect and separate valvar orifices for the right and left ventricles, the so-called primum defect, who presented with serious pulmonary hypertension. Treatment with sildenafil was changed to intravenous epoprostenol due to lack of any measurable effects of the initial therapy as shown by echocardiography. The girl died three days after the change in treatment. We suggest that a mismatch between ventilation and perfusion contributed significantly to her death.
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