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1.  Atrial fibrillation burden in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 patients implanted with dual chamber pacemaker: the efficacy of the overdrive atrial algorithm at 2 year follow-up 
Acta Myologica  2013;32(3):142-147.
The role that atrial pacing therapy plays on the atrial fibrillation (AF) burden is still unclear. Aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the atrial preference pacing algorithm on AF burden in patients affected by Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) followed for a long follow up period. Sixty DM1 patients were -implanted with a dual chamber pacemaker (PM) for first degree or symptomatic type 1/type 2 second degree atrio-ventricular blocks- were followed for 2-years after implantation, by periodical examination. After 1 month of stabilization, they were randomized into two groups: 1) Patients implanted with conventional dual-chamber pacing mode (DDDR group) and 2) Patients implanted with DDDR plus Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) algorithm (APP ON group).
The results showed that atrial tachycardia (AT)/AF burden was significantly reduced at 1 year follow up in the APP ON group (2122 ± 428 minutes vs 4127 ± 388 minutes, P = 0.03), with a further reduction at the end of the 2 year follow up period (4652 ± 348 minutes vs 7564 ± 638 minutes, P = 0.005).
The data here reported show that the APP is an efficient algorithm to reduce AT/AF burden in DM1 patients implanted with dual chamber pacemaker.
PMCID: PMC4006281  PMID: 24803841
Atrial overdrive algorithm; atrial preference pacing; supraventricular tachyarrhythmias; Myotonic Dystrophy type 1
2.  On a case of respiratory failure due to diaphragmatic paralysis and dilated cardiomyopathy in a patient with nemaline myopathy 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(3):201-203.
Nemaline myopathy is a rare congenital disease that generally occurs in childhood. We report a case of a 50-year-old man who presented with severe heart failure as the initial manifestation of nemaline myopathy. Soon after he developed acute restrictive respiratory failure due to the diaphragmatic paralysis. The diagnosis of "nemaline myopathy" was obtained on muscle biopsy performed one year later. After starting appropriate cardiological treatment and non-invasive ventilation, his cardiac and pulmonary functions improved substantially, remaining stable for over the 10 years since diagnosis. In the last two years the patient had a progressive deterioration of respiratory function, enabling him to attend daily activities.
Few cases of respiratory failure in patients with adult-onset nemaline myopathy are reported, but the insidious onset in this case is even more unusual. This case highlights the wide spectrum of presenting features of adult-onset nemaline myopathy and the temporary efficacy of non invasive ventilation on respiratory function.
PMCID: PMC3631801  PMID: 23620652
Nemaline myopathy; heart failure; respiratory failure
3.  Right atrial preference pacing algorithm in the prevention of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in myotonic dystrophy type 1 patients: a long term follow-up study 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):139-143.
Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) is a pacemaker (PM) algorithm that works by increasing the atrial pacing rate to achieve continuous suppression of a spontaneous atrial rhythm and prevent supraventricular tachyarrhythmias. We have previously shown that atrial preference pacing may significantly reduce the number and the duration of AF episodes in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) patients who are paced for standard indications.
However, the role that APP therapies play in the prevention of AF in a long-term period remains still unclear. Aim of the present prospective study was to evaluate whether this beneficial effect is maintained for 24-months follow-up period.
To this aim, 50 patients with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 who underwent dual-chamber PM implantation for first- and second- degree atrioventricular block, were consecutively enrolled and followed for 2 years. One month later the stabilization period, after the implantation, they were randomized to APP algorithm programmed OFF or ON for 6 months each, using a cross-over design, and remained in the same program for the second year. The results showed that while the number of AF episodes during active treatment (APP ON phases) was lower than that registered during no treatment (APP OFF phases), no statistically significant difference was found in AF episodes duration between the two phases. Furthermore, during the APP OFF and APP ON phases, the percentage of atrial pacing was 0 and 99%, respectively, while the percentage of ventricular pacing did not show differences statistically significant (11 vs. 9%, P = 0.2). Atrial premature beats were significantly higher during APP OFF phases than during APP ON phases. Lead parameters remained stable over time and there were no lead-related complications. Based on these 24-months follow-up data, we can conclude that, in DM1 patients who underwent dual-chamber PM implantation, APP is an efficacy algorithm for preventing paroxysmal AF even in long term periods.
PMCID: PMC3476853  PMID: 23097606
myotonic dystrophy; atrial preference pacing; atrial fibrillation
4.  Improvement of survival in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: retrospective analysis of 835 patients 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):121-125.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is the most common muscle disease in children. Historically, DMD results in loss of ambulation between ages 7 and 13 years and death in the teens or 20s. In order to determine whether survival has improved over the decades and whether the impact of nocturnal ventilation combined with a better management of cardiac involvement has been able to modify the pattern of survival, we reviewed the notes of 835 DMD patients followed at the Naples Centre of Cardiomyology and Medical Genetics from 1961 to 2006. Patients were divided, by decade of birth, into 3 groups: 1) DMD born between 1961 and 1970; 2) DMD born between 1971 and 1980; 3) DMD born between 1981 and 1990; each group was in turn subdivided into 15 two-year classes, from 14 to 40 years of age. Age and causes of death, type of cardiac treatment and use of a mechanical ventilator were carefully analyzed.
The percentage of survivors in the different decades was statistically compared by chi-square test and Kaplan-Meier survival curves analyses. A significant decade on decade improvement in survival rate was observed at both the age of 20, where it passed from 23.3% of patients in group 1 to 54% of patients in group 2 and to 59,8% in patients in group 3 (p < 0.001) and at the age of 25 where the survival rate passed from 13.5% of patients in group 1 to 31.6% of patients in group 2 and to 49.2% in patients in group 3 (p < 0.001).
The causes of death were both cardiac and respiratory, with a prevalence of the respiratory ones till 1980s. The overall mean age for cardiac deaths was 19.6 years (range 13.4-27.5), with an increasing age in the last 15 years. The overall mean age for respiratory deaths was 17.7 years (range 11.6-27.5) in patients without a ventilator support while increased to 27.9 years (range 23-38.6) in patients who could benefit of mechanical ventilation.
This report documents that DMD should be now considered an adulthood disease as well, and as a consequence more public health interventions are needed to support these patients and their families as they pass from childhood into adult age.
PMCID: PMC3476854  PMID: 23097603
Duchenne; survival; cardiomyopathy
5.  Cardiac involvement in patients with Spinal Muscular Atrophies 
Acta Myologica  2011;30(3):175-178.
The spinal muscular atrophies (SMAs) include a group of disorders characterized by progressive weakness of the lower motor neurons. Several types of SMAs have been described based on age onset of clinical features: Acute infantile (SMA type I), chronic infantile (SMA type II), chronic juvenile (SMA type III), and adult onset (SMA type IV) forms. The incidence is about 1:6,000 live births with a carrier frequency of 1:40 for the severe form and 1:80 for the juvenile form. The mortality and/or morbidity rates of SMAs are inversely correlated with the age at onset. SMAs are believed to only affect skeletal muscles; however, new data on SMA mice models suggest they may also impact the heart.
Aim of the study was to retrospectively examine the cardiological records of 37 type molecularly confirmed II/III SMA patients, aged 6 to 65 years, in order to evaluate the onset and evolution of the cardiac involvement in these disorders. All patients had a standard ECG and a routine echocardiography. The parameters analysed were the following: Heart rate (HR), PQ interval, PQ segment, Cardiomyopathic Index (ratio QT/PQs), ventricular and supraventricular ectopic beats, pauses ≥ 2,5msec, ventricle diameters, wall and septum thickness, ejection fraction, fiber shortening.
The results showed that HR and the other ECG parameters were within the normal limits except for the Cardiomyopathic Index that was higher than the normal values (2,6-4,2) in 2 patients. Left ventricular systolic function was within the normal limits in all patients. A dilation of the left ventricle without systolic dysfunction was observed in only 2 patients, aged respectively 65 and 63 years; however they were hypertensive and/or affected by coronary artery disease. Data here reported contribute to reassure patients and their clinicians that type II/III SMAs do not present heart dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3298107  PMID: 22616198
Spinal Muscular Atrophies; heart involvement; cardiomyopathy

Results 1-5 (5)