Incidence and Predictors of Clinically Important and Dangerous Arrhythmias During Exercise Tests in Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease Patients.

Barry OM; Gauvreau K; Reichman JR; Bourette L; Curran T; O’Neill J; Pymm JL; Alexander ME;

JACC. Clinical Electrophysiology [JACC Clin Electrophysiol] 2018 Oct; Vol. 4 (10), pp. 1319-1327. Date of Electronic Publication: 2018 Jul 25.

Objectives: This study quantified the incidence of arrhythmias during pediatric exercise stress tests (ESTs) and evaluated criteria to identify patients at risk of clinically important arrhythmias.
Background: The incidence of clinically important arrhythmias during pediatric ESTs and criteria for identifying high-risk patients are poorly characterized.
Methods: A retrospective review of ESTs performed from 2013 to 2015 was studied. Arrhythmias were categorized into 4 classes based on need for test termination and intervention. Risk factors evaluated included having an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), cardiomyopathy, severe ventricular dysfunction, complex arrhythmia history, coronary disease with concern for ischemia, pulmonary hypertension, select poorly palliated congenital heart disease (CHD), and concerning symptoms. Negative predictive values (NPVs) were calculated.
Results: During the study period, 5307 ESTs were performed. Median age of the subjects was 16 years (interquartile range: 13 to 24 years); 20% had complex CHD. At least 1 high-risk criterion was present in 507 tests (10%); having an ICD (37%) and cardiomyopathy (36%) were the most common criteria. Some arrhythmias were seen in 46% of tests, but only 33 events (0.6%) required test termination. Three events (0.06%) required cardiopulmonary resuscitation, all with high-risk criteria. Absence of a high-risk criterion had a 99.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 99.5% to 99.8%) NPV for an arrhythmia that required test termination and a 99.96% (95% CI: 99.85% to 99.99%) NPV for an arrhythmia that required intervention beyond test termination.
Conclusions: Although self-terminating arrhythmias are common, dangerous arrhythmias are rare during ESTs in a high-volume pediatric cardiology program. Pre-defined high-risk criteria identified all patients with the most serious events. The absence of any criteria predicted a low risk for arrhythmias that required test termination. These data permitted informed choices regarding supervision of ESTs.