Clinical heart disease was recognized in the first descriptions of Friedreich's ataxia (FA). Cardiac manifestations reported for this progressive neurologic disease include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and electrophysiologic disturbances. Longitudinal data for childhood cases are limited. This study aimed to define the longitudinal course of the cardiac abnormalities with FA diagnosed during childhood and to correlate the presence of cardiomyopathy with clinical and genetic factors.
A retrospective chart review was conducted, with prospective, blinded interpretation of echocardiograms and electrocardiograms. All the patients with a diagnosis of FA referred to the cardiology department of a single institution from 1974 to 2004 were included in the study.