Children with Friedreich's ataxia (FA) are at risk of perioperative morbidity and mortality from severe unpredictable heart failure. There is currently no clear way of identifying patients at highest risk. This group used myocardial perfusion reserve (MPR), an MRI technique used to assess the maximal myocardial blood flow above baseline, to help determine potential surgical risk in FA subjects. In total, seven children with genetically confirmed FA, ages 8-17 years, underwent MPR stress testing using regadenoson. Six of the seven demonstrated impaired endocardial perfusion during coronary hyperemia. The same six were also found to have evidence of ongoing myocardial damage as illustrated by cardiac troponin I leak (range 0.04-0.17 ng/mL, normal < 0.03 ng/mL). None of the patients had a reduced ejection fraction (range 59-74%) or elevated insulin level (range 2.46-14.23 mCU/mL). This retrospective study shows that children with FA develop MPR defects early in the disease process. It also suggests MPR may be a sensitive tool to evaluate underlying cardiac compromise and could be of use in directing surgical management decisions in children with FA.

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