OBJECTIVES: Myocardial fibrosis is frequently identified in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The aim of this study was to investigate the role of myocardial fibrosis detected by late gadolinium-enhancement (LGE) cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) as a potential arrhythmogenic substrate in HCM. We hypothesized that the extent of LGE might be associated with the inducibility of ventricular tachyarrhythmias (VT) during programmed ventricular stimulation (PVS).
METHODS: We evaluated retrospectively LGE CMR of 76 consecutive HCM patients, of which 43 presented with one or more risk factors for sudden cardiac death (SCD) and were therefore clinically classified as high-risk patients. Of these 43 patients, 38 additionally underwent an electrophysiological testing (EP). CMR indices and the extent of LGE, given as the % of LV mass with LGE were correlated with the presence of risk factors for SCD and the results of EP.
RESULTS: High-risk patients had a significant higher prevalence of LGE than low-risk patients (29/43 [67%] versus 14/33 [47%]; p=0.03). Also the % of LV mass with LGE was significantly higher in high-risk patients than in low-risk patients (14% versus 3%, p=0.001, respectively). Of the 38 high- risk patients, 12 had inducible VT during EP. LV function, volumes and mass were comparable in patients with and without inducible VT. However, the % of LV mass with LGE was significantly higher in patients with inducible VT compared to those without (22% versus 10 %, p=0.03). The prevalence of LGE was, however, comparable between HCM patients with and those without inducible VT (10/12 [83%] versus 15/26 [58%]; p=0.12). In the univariate analysis the % of LV mass with LGE and the septal wall thickness were significantly associated with the high-risk group (p= 0.001 and 0.004, respectively). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the extent of LGE was the only independent predictor of the risk group (p=0.03).
CONCLUSIONS: The extent of LGE in HCM patients correlated with risk factors of SCD and the likelihood of inducible VT. Furthermore, LGE extent was the only independent predictor of the risk group. This supports the hypothesis that the extent of fibrosis may serve as potential arrhythmogenic substrate for the occurrence of VT, especially in patients with clinical risk factors for SCD.