The long QT syndrome in children an international study of 287 patients

A. Garson, M. Dick, A. Fournier, P. C. Gillette, R. Hamilton, J. D. Kugler, G. F. Van Hare, V. Vetter, G. W. Vick

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381 Scopus citations


Background. The Pediatric Electrophysiology Society studied children with the long QT syndrome (LQTS) to describe the features of LQTS in patients less than 21 years old, define potential "low-risk" and "high-risk" subpopulations, and determine optimal treatment. Methods and Results. Patients less than 21 years old were included if either QT, was more than 0.44; they had unexplained syncope, seizures, or cardiac arrest preceded by emotion or exercise; or family history of LQTS. We found 287 patients from 26 centers in seven countries. Mean±SD age at presentation was 6.8±5.6; 9% presented with cardiac arrest, 26% with syncope, and 10% with seizures. Of those with symptoms, 67% had symptoms related to exercise. Family history was positive for long QT interval in 39% and for sudden death in 31%. Hearing loss was present in 4.5%. A normal QTc was present in 6%, and QTc of more than 0.60 was in 13%. Atrioventricular block occurred in 5%, but 13 of 15 patients had second-degree atrioventricular block (2:1), and only two of 287 had complete atrioventricular block. Ventricular arrhythmias were found on 16% of initial routine ECGs: 4% uniform premature ventricular contractions, 5% multiform premature ventricular contractions, 1% monomorphic ventricular tachycardia, and 6% torsade de pointes. Overall, treatment was effective for symptoms in 76% and for ventricular arrhythmias in 60%. There was no difference between propranolol and other β-blockers in effective treatment. Left stellectomy was performed in nine patients, and defibrillators were implanted in four; no sudden death occurred in these 13 patients. In follow-up (duration, 5.0±4 years; age, 10.9±6.3 years), 5% had cardiac arrest, 4% had syncope, and 1% had seizures. The two multivariate predictors of symptoms at follow-up were symptoms at presentation and propranolol failure. Sudden death occurred in 8%; multivariate predictors of sudden death were length of QTc at presentation of more than 0.60 and medication noncompliance. Conclusions. The appearance of 2:1 atrioventricular block, multiform premature ventricular contractions, and torsade de pointes are relatively more common in children with LQTS than other children and should raise the index of suspicion for LQTS. Because 9% of patients presented with cardiac arrest and no preceding symptoms, perhaps prophylactic treatment in asymptomatic children is indicated. Asymptomatic patients with normal QTc and positive family history may be a low-risk group. Patients with QTc of more than 0.60 are at particularly high risk for sudden death, and if treatment is not effective, consideration should be given to cardiac sympathetic denervation, pacemaker implantation, and perhaps implantation of a defibrillator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1866-1872
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993


  • Arrhythmias
  • Electrophysiology
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Pediatrics
  • Sudden death


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