Coarctation of the aorta (CoA) is one of the most common congenital heart defects. Most patients live into adulthood as a result of improved surgical techniques; however, late complications, including hypertension, recoarctation, and arrhythmias, are common. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) might play a role in the pathology. This study evaluated cardiac ANS activity and cardiac function in children after CoA repair and investigated the relationship between the two.
The study participants were 31 children after CoA repair and 62 healthy controls aged between 8 and 18 years. Ambulatory impedance cardiography was used to measure cardiac ANS activity and cardiac output for 24 hours. Transthoracic echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging were used to measure cardiac function.
No group differences were found in ambulatory cardiac ANS activity. However, ambulatory cardiac output and left ventricular function were significantly decreased in patients compared with controls.
Left ventricular function and ambulatory cardiac output are impaired in patients after CoA repair, despite unchanged cardiac ANS activity in this group. These results underscore the importance of clinical follow-up, even in patients without residual stenosis.