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Left ventricular structural and functional changes in Friedreich ataxia - Relationship with body size, sex, age and genetic severity

Although a concentric pattern of left ventricular (LV) geometry appears to be common in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA), there is no accepted method for diagnosing LV abnormalities in FRDA, sex and body size have often not been taken into consideration, and it has not been clear whether children and adults should be classified using the same criteria. The aim of this study was to better define the LV geometric changes in FRDA with respect to sex, body size and subject age, and to investigate the relationship of LV changes with genetic severity, as assessed by GAA repeat length within the shorter allele of the FXN gene (GAA1). Echocardiography was performed in 216 subjects (68 children, 148 adults), measurements were made at end-diastole of LV internal diameter (LVEDID), septal wall thickness (SWT), LV length (LVEDL) and LV volume (LVEDV), and calculations were made of relative wall thickness (RWT), LV mass and LV ejection fraction (LVEF). The most common LV abnormalities in both adults and children with FRDA were increases in RWT and age-normalized RWT. In adults, after adjustment for sex and body surface area (BSA), GAA1 was a positive correlate of SWT and RWT (but not of LV mass), and was an inverse correlate of LVEDID, LVEDL and LVEDV. In children there were no correlations of GAA1 with any of the LV variables. In FRDA, increases in RWT and age-normalized RWT are the most frequent LV structural abnormalities, sex and body size are important determinants of most other LV structural variables in both children and adults, and increased genetic severity is associated with a smaller left ventricle and increased LV wall thickness in adults, but not associated with LV size or wall thickness in children.

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