Prediction of Heart Failure and Death in an Adult Population of Fontan Patients

Late Fontan survivors are at high risk to experience heart failure and death. Therefore, the current study sought to investigate the role of non-invasive diagnostics as prognostic markers for failure of the systemic ventricle following Fontan procedure.

This monocentric, longitudinal observational study included 60 patients with a median age of 24.5 (19-29) years, who were subjected to cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, echocardiography, cardiopulmonary exercise testing, and blood analysis. The primary endpoint of this study was decompensated heart failure with symptoms at rest, peripheral and/or pulmonary edema, and/or death.

During a follow-up of 24 months, 5 patients died, and 5 patients suffered from decompensated heart failure. Clinical (NYHA class, initial surgery), functional (VO2 peak, ejection fraction, cardiac index), circulating biomarkers (N-terminal pro brain natriuretic peptide), and imaging parameters (end diastolic volume index, end systolic volume index, mass-index, contractility, afterload) were significantly related to the primary endpoint. Multi-variate regression analysis identified afterload as assessed by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging as an independent predictor of the primary endpoint (hazard ratio 1.98, 95% confidence interval 1.19-3.29, p = 0.009).

Researchers identified distinct parameters of cardiopulmonary exercise testing, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and blood testing as markers for future decompensated heart failure and death in patients with Fontan circulation. Importantly, our data also identify increased afterload as an independent predictor for increased morbidity and mortality. This parameter is easy to assess by non-invasive cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Its modulation may represent a potential therapeutic approach target in these high-risk patients.