Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease may lead to longer life in Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy patients, say experts at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston in a report that appeared online in the journal Circulation.
Cardiac disease, particularly dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure, is the major cause of mortality in patients with muscular dystrophy and is present in most boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and approximately 70 percent of those with Becker muscular dystrophy. These are the two common forms of muscular dystrophy caused by defects in a gene called dystrophin.
"It should be the standard of care for all newly diagnosed Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy patients to be referred to a cardiologist for screening, probably by 10 years of age or earlier," says Dr. Jeffrey A. Towbin, professor of pediatrics at BCM and chief of pediatric cardiology at Texas Childrens Hospital.
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