Abstract Watch: Preventing cardiac diseases in childhood.


Hell J Nucl Med. 2015 Sep-Dec;18 Suppl 1:148.

Preventing cardiac diseases in childhood.

Petropoulos A1, Ehringer-Schetitska D, Fritsch P, Jokinen E, Dalla Pozza R, Oberhoffer R.



The burden of cardiac disease in childhood is unknown. It will be a sum of 1% of living births in the general population, suffering from Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) + approximately 2.5% of the general population suffering from bicuspid aortic valve diseases + an unknown higher prevalence of acquired diseases. Cardiomyopathies, arrhythmias – sudden cardiac death (SCD), rheumatic heard disease, hypertension and accelerating atherosclerosis are among the most frequent. Adding on, genetic syndromes including cardiac defects, endocarditis and myocarditis we can address a large pediatric population worldwide, suffering from heart disease. Diagnosis and treatment of these diseases are not afforded in many countries worldwide due to luck of human and material resources. The aim of this paper is to describe how some of the above mentioned diseases can be either early detected or prevented. The working Group “Cardiovascular Prevention” of the Association of European Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology (AEPC) focused on some forms of them since its formation in 2011. These areas are: 1) some forms of critical CHD, 2) sudden cardiac death linked to sport activities and 3) detecting- preventing cardio vascular diseases CVD in the young. Methods-Populations: Measurements of pre and post ductal saturation of oxygen using pulse oximeters, after the first day from birth, can early and cheaply detect critical Ductal Arteriosus dependent pulmonary or systemic and cyanotic CHD, saving lives and decreasing significantly the cost of medical care. This screening test can be applied to all neonates as late as possible after their birth and before released to their homes. A combination of detailed medical history, physical examination and 12 lead ECG, during a pre-participation in sport activities medical screening test can prevent SCD, related to a variety of nosology. This combined screening test can be applied to all children before they are exposed to school or leisure sport activities. Screening to early detect and treating existent risk factors (RF) for CVD as well as preventing obesity and hypertension, contributes in lowering the burden of CVD. Specific screening tests as laboratory measurements of lipids, fasting glucose or regular measurements of Blood Pressure and waist to hip ratio in children with a family history of CVD or other co-morbidity that provokes accelerating atherosclerosis must be done on a regular basis.


Since 2010, four European studies reporting the test accuracy of routine pulse oximetry screening, in over 150.000 babies, have delivered new data. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 230.000 screened babies, reported high specificity, moderate sensitivity and a low false-positive rate. Routine screening for critical CHD using pulse oximetry is being increasingly supported and was added to the recommended uniform screening panel in the USA in 2011. Evaluating children with CHD before their involvement in sport activities, so a clear view in what they can and what they can’t to is vital for their safety. For children involved in competitive or leisure sport activities, an initial evaluation and a yearly F/U is vital. In cases of near SCD events an additional thorough investigation and appropriate management is required. Investigating the severity of the existing RF and cooperating with Pediatricians in their treatment (e.g. heredity forms of hyperlipidemias, existing hypertension) of them is essential. Furthermore preventing acceleration of atherosclerosis in patients with: Diabetes Mellitus I, II, chronic renal disease, post Kawasaki disease, post heart transplantation patients, Cardio-Metabolic Syndrome patients, by eradicating RF primordially or by alternating them by opposing a healthy life style or by medicine treatment, has sown in many studies to post pone clinical events in adulthood.


As many studies have proved the role of preventive measures that can alternate the outcome of cardiac diseases in childhood. AEPC/Preventive Cardiology working group is in the process to publish in the near future guidelines on this topic.

PMID: 26665231 

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