Isolated complete heart block in the fetus

Andrew Ho, Patrick Gordon, Eric Rosenthal, John Simpson, Owen Miller, Gurleen Sharland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Isolated congenital complete heart block (CCHB) is a rare disease with significant associated morbidity and mortality. A diagnosis is often made in fetal life, but data regarding long-term outcomes are limited, and fetal therapy to improve prognosis is controversial. In our institution, 85 fetuses were diagnosed with CCHB from 1981 to 2013 in 80 mothers. There were 37 anti-Ro-positive pregnancies, 36 both anti-Ro and anti-La positive, 10 antibody negative, and 2 of unknown antibody status. Antenatal treatments were given in 14 fetuses, with 8 given fluorinated steroids, 4 beta sympathomimetics, and both in 2. Of the original 85, 74 babies survived to delivery. Fetal hydrops was the only risk factor found to be significantly associated with intrauterine death (p <0.001). Four babies died before pacemaker implantation, 56 have had pacemakers implanted, and 14 are pacemaker free. The Kaplan-Meier estimate for median time to pacemaker implantation was 2.6 years, with 15 implanted in the neonatal period. There have been 14 postnatal deaths, with a Kaplan-Meier estimate of survival at 30 years of 76.8% (95% confidence interval 65% to 90%). Dilated cardiomyopathy was uncommon, occurring in 6 patients. Prematurity and hydrops were associated with increased postnatal mortality (p = 0.02 and 0.005, respectively). In conclusion, we present the largest single-unit experience of prenatally diagnosed CCHB in the published literature. Our cohort was conservatively managed, with survival similar to those previously published. These data offer insight into the long-term natural history of CCHB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-147
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Simpson acknowledges financial support from the Department of Health through the National Institute for Health Research Comprehensive Biomedical Research Center award to Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King's College London and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Dr. Gordon was in receipt of a grant from the British Heart Foundation . There were no external sources of funding for this study. The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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