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Original Research

Electrocardiographic and Echocardiographic Abnormalities in Chagas Disease: Findings in Residents of Rural Bolivian Communities Hyperendemic for Chagas Disease

Authors:

Antonio B. Fernandez ,

Division of Cardiology, Hartford Hospital and University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Hartford, CT, US
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Maria Carmo P. Nunes,

School of Medicine, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, BR
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Eva H. Clark,

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, US
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Aaron Samuels,

Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, US
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Silvio Menacho,

Centro de Salud, Eity, Gutierrez, BO
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Jesus Gomez,

Hospital San Juan de Dios, Santa Cruz, BO
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Ricardo W. Bozo Gutierrez,

Hospital Municipal Camiri, Camiri, BO
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Thomas C. Crawford,

Department of Cardiology, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI, US
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Robert H. Gilman,

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, US
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Caryn Bern

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, US
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Abstract

Background: Chagas disease is a neglected and preventable tropical disease that causes significant cardiac morbidity and mortality in Latin America.

Objectives: This study sought to describe cardiac findings among inhabitants of rural communities of the Bolivian Chaco.

Methods: The cardiac study drew participants from an epidemiologic study in 7 indigenous Guarani communities. All infected participants 10 years or older were asked to undergo a brief physical examination and 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). A subset had echocardiograms. ECG and echocardiograms were read by 1 or more cardiologists.

Results: Of 1,137 residents 10 years or older, 753 (66.2%) had Trypanosoma cruzi infection. Cardiac evaluations were performed for 398 infected participants 10 years or older. Fifty-five participants (13.8%) had 1 or more ECG abnormalities suggestive of Chagas cardiomyopathy. The most frequent abnormalities were bundle branch blocks in 42 (11.3%), followed by rhythm disturbances or ventricular ectopy in 13 (3.3%), and atrioventricular blocks (AVB) in 10 participants (2.6%). The prevalence of any abnormality rose from 1.1% among those 10 to 19 years old to 14.2%, 17.3%, and 26.4% among those 20 to 39, 40 to 59, and older than 60 years, respectively. First-degree AVB was seen most frequently in participants 60 years or older, but the 4 patients with third-degree AVB were all under 50 years old. Eighteen and 2 participants had a left ventricular ejection fraction of 40% to 54% and <40%, respectively. An increasing number of ECG abnormalities was associated with progressively larger left ventricular end-diastolic dimensions and lower left ventricular ejection fraction.

Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of ECG abnormalities and substantial evidence of Chagas cardiomyopathy. Programs to improve access to basic cardiac care (annual ECG, antiarrhythmics, pacemakers) could have an immediate impact on morbidity and mortality in these highly endemic communities.

Highlights

  • The prevalence of T. cruzi infection in survey participants was 52% overall and 94% among those 40 years or older.
  • Among infected participants, 13.8% had –1 abnormality on ECG that was suggestive of Chagas heart disease, most commonly right bundle branch block, with or without left anterior hemiblock.
  • The prevalence of ECG abnormalities rose with age from 1.1% among those 10 to 19 years old to 14.2%, 17.3%, and 26.4% among those 20 to 39, 40 to 59, and older than 60 years, respectively.
  • An increasing number of abnormalities on ECG was associated with progressively higher LVEDD and lower ejection fraction.
  • Programs to improve access to basic cardiac care could have an immediate impact on morbidity and mortality in these highly endemic communities.
How to Cite: Fernandez AB, Nunes MCP, Clark EH, Samuels A, Menacho S, Gomez J, et al.. Electrocardiographic and Echocardiographic Abnormalities in Chagas Disease: Findings in Residents of Rural Bolivian Communities Hyperendemic for Chagas Disease. Global Heart. 2015;10(3):159–66. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gheart.2015.07.004
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Published on 01 Sep 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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