This special issue provides a rich blend of news, reviews and clinical studies on many aspects of the understanding, management and prevention of cardiovascular disease in childhood. Primary care in pediatric cardiology, principally, must concern with prevention of heart disease and early detection of existing illness. In addition, pediatricians must be able to maintain the vigilance of "healthy" children in order to prevent cardiovascular risk in adulthood. With these goals, the themes presented in this "mosaic" of topics include - Cardiovascular involvement in genetic syndromes, SIDS and infectious, endocrine, kidney, storage or autoimmune diseases. - Pulmonary hypertension and patent ductus arteriosus in premature infants. - Cardiovascular risk in obese or hypertensive children. - Bicupid aortic valve and aortic dysfunction - Covid 19 and heart disease in childhood.I thank the Researchers and Professors of Catanzaro, Palermo, Pavia, Brescia, Taormina and Messina University for their interesting and up-to-date scientific contributions, and I hope the information gathered in this issue will be useful to the reader.
Hypertension is a growing health problem in children, and it is an important parameter of cardiovascular risk for adults. It is classified as primary (influenced by obesity, sedentary lifestyles and poor-quality food) or secondary to underlying causes. The AAP 2017 guidelines recommend measuring blood pressure every year from the age of three and in children under the age of three only if they have known risk factors. The measurement of infantile hypertension is relatively complicated and instable and, for this reason, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) and multiple office BP measurement (mOBPM), especially in infants who are not collaborating are indicated. High blood pressure may have an adverse effect on the heart, the vessels, the kidney, and the central nervous system so it is important recognize it and act promptly. Hypertension is initially treated with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, but, if non-pharmacological interventions have failed, a pharmacological treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, thiazide diuretics and/or beta blocker may be indicated.
Childhood obesity is the "disease of the century". This article reviews the early cardiovascular risk factors and the recommendations to prevent them in the overweight and obese children. A comprehensive search of published literature was carried out to identify all articles published on this topic in English and Italian from 1999 to 2020.
Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute systemic vasculitis of unknown etiology. It has a self-limiting course and so far, represents the most common cause of coronary heart disease acquired in children aged between 6 months and 5 years. The inflammatory process can involve the coronary arteries with the formation of aneurysms and thrombotic occlusions with the risk of sudden death, especially in infants. Myocardial inflammation and abnormalities of cardiac contractility can occur acutely or many years after the disease onset. Therapy must be started within 10 days after the onset of symptoms to reduce the risk of heart complications. Immunoglobulin and aspirin treatment are effective in reducing heart complications. Recent studies have shown new therapeutic strategies (corticosteroids, immunosuppressive and biological drugs) in case of ineffectiveness of treatment with immunoglobulins.
Mucolipidosis II and III are lysosomal storage diseases caused by pathogenetic mutations in GNPTAB and GNPTG genes which cause an impaired activity of the lysosomal hydrolase N-acetylglucosamine- 1-phosphotransferase, a key enzyme in the synthesis of the mannose-6-phosphate targeting signals on lysosomal enzymes. Patients with MLII alpha/beta present coarse facial features, cessation of statural growth, important skeletal manifestations, impaired neuromotor development and cardiorespiratory involvement. All children appear to have cardiac involvement, but severe dilated cardiomyopathy is uncommon. In this report we describe the case of an 11-month-old girl who is affected by a MLII. Analysis of the GNPTAB gene identified at a heterozygous level the previously described gene variants c. 2693delA p(Lys898Serfs*13) and c. 2956C>T p(Arg986Cys). Her main clinical features were coarse face with gingival hypertrophy, dysostosis multiplex, recurrent respiratory infection and an early onset of dilated cardiomyopathy, an uncommon feature for MLII. To our knowledge, dilated cardiomyopathy has been previously described in literature in only two cases of MLII and in one patient affected by MLIII.
Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the neonate is a multifactorial condition characterized by maladaptive pulmonary vascular remodeling and abnormal contractile reactivity. This review evaluates the role of oxidative stress and antioxidant treatment on the persistent pulmonary hypertension of the neonate.
Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is the most common endocrine disease in children, according to literature, infants with CH have an increased risk of associated congenital malformations (CM), especially cardiac defects (CD), compared to the general population. We retrospectively analyzed medical records of 255 patients with a positive screening result for CH in the period 1991-2016 followed at our Center. At the time of enrollment, the clinical examination included looking for the presence of heart murmurs and dysmorphic features. In all patients an echocardiography with cardiological evaluation were performed. Of all patients, 191 were included in the final analysis. Of these, 51.3% (98/191) presented an eutopic normally sized thyroid gland while 48.7% (93/191) showed a thyroid dysgenesis. Among the studied infants, 13.6% (26/191) presented CD. The most frequent cardiac anomaly was atrial septal defect (ASD) which was found in 65.4% (17/26) of patients with CD. Other defects were ventricular septal defect (VSD), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), pulmonary valve stenosis (PvS), transposition of the great vessels (TGV), aortic valve stenosis (AvS). Six patients had multiple defects. In the analysed group, there was no significant relation with sex, type of CH, median blood-TSH (b-TSH) and serum-TSH (s-TSH) values and frequency of CD. There is a high prevalence of CD in CH, indicating the need of routine echocardiography in these patients to achieve an early diagnosis and management of CD.
This study examined the prevalence and distribution of elevated systolic pulmonary arterial pressure, measured by echocardiography, in young patients with down syndrome associated or not with congenital heart disease and surgical correction during childhood. Pulmonary artery systolic pressure, computed by regurgitant tricuspid flow velocity evaluation, is the most frequently used parameter for the screening of pulmonary hypertension. Down syndrome and congenital heart disease often coexist and the probability to detect elevated systolic pulmonary arterial pressure in this setting is high. However, little is known about the evaluation of pulmonary arterial pressure during growth of patients with down syndrome with or without congenital heart disease. We enrolled 47 young patients (55% of male sex; mean age: 18.4 ± 6.0 years), 40 with congenital heart disease and 7 without a cardiac defect. Systolic pulmonary arterial pressure was assessed by echocardiography. No difference was found in the population dichotomized by presence or absence of CHD. Only male sex (p=0.000), highly sensitive troponin-T (P=0.027), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE, p=0.045) and sPAP (p=0.004) were elevated in surgical group. The ASD was found as, the most common structural abnormality in our patients (50%), followed by VSD (27.5%) and complex CHD (such as complete atrioventricular canal defect, CAVC = 25% and Fallot disease = 15%). Furthermore, about 45% of patients had the combined defect. Only 37.5% of patients underwent to corrective surgery during the first months of life. We observed a significantly increase of sPAP values in patients with complex CHD, such as CAVC (p=0.019) and Fallot disease (p=0.001) but, in the following multivariate analysis performed in the patients with CHD, only Fallot disease remains as independent predictors of elevated values of sPAP (p=0.022). An elevated systolic pulmonary arterial pressure may represent the key screening tool in the diagnostic assessment of suspect pulmonary arterial hypertension in high risk population with down syndrome regardless the presence of congenital heart disease.
Lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs) include a heterogeneous group of rare, inborn, metabolic diseases characterized by deficiency of lysosomal enzymes or of other proteins involved in lysosomal function, leading to multi organ system substrates accumulation, with consequent multi systemic clinical presentation. Cardiac disease is particularly important in some group of LSDs as glycogen storage diseases (Pompe), mucopolysaccharidoses and in glycosphingolipidoses (Anderson-Fabry disease and less frequently Gaucher disease). Various cardiac manifestations may be observed including hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease and valvular disease. The availability of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) has changed the natural history of some LSDs such as Pompe disease, thanks to the significant effects on cardiological involvement. In other LSDs such as MPSs or Fabry disease, ERT has been shown to stabilize or slow the progression of heart damage. This imposes the need for a timely diagnosis that allows a rapid onset of ERT.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first described in a cluster of patients in Wuhan, China, in December of 2019. Over the past few months, COVID-19 has rapidly spread worldwide becoming the first pandemic of the 21st century. COVID-19 results in mild symptoms in most infected children but can cause acute cardiac injury and death. In comparison to younger children, teenagers and infants are at higher risk for morbidity and mortality, with particular risk factors including pre-existing conditions like cardiovascular disease. Since this is an emerging infectious disease, there are limited data about the effects of this infection on patients especially in the pediatric population. We summarize here with the data on cardiovascular involvement in children and adolescents.