Echocardiographic diagnosis of heart disease in apparently healthy adolescents

Julia Steinberger, James H. Moller, James M. Berry, Alan R. Sinaiko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Objective. Comprehensive data are currently unavailable on the prevalence of cardiac abnormalities in children after the newborn/infant period. The present report describes the prevalence of echocardiographically detected cardiac disease in a cohort of randomly selected healthy junior high school children. Methods. The cohort for this report consists of 357 children (mean age: 13 years) randomly selected after blood pressure screening of 12 043 fifth through eighth grade students and having an echocardiographic examination as part of a study of insulin resistance in childhood. Results. A physical examination performed by a board-certified pediatrician reported no cardiac abnormalities. However, echocardiography and Doppler studies identified 13 (3.6%) children (7 males and 6 females), with previously unknown cardiac abnormalities, as follows: abnormal mitral valve with mitral regurgitation (4), bicuspid aortic valve (2), atrial septal defect (2), coronary artery to pulmonary artery fistula (1), patent ductus arteriosus (1), pulmonary hypertension (1), cardiomyopathy (1), and pulmonary artery stenosis (1). Physical examination performed by a pediatric cardiologist detected abnormal cardiac findings in 7 (54%) of the children. Cardiac catheterization was required in 3 for additional diagnostic evaluation and in 2 for therapeutic intervention; 1 patient underwent open-heart surgery. Bacterial endocarditis prophylaxis was recommended in 8 (62%) of the 13 children. Conclusions. The results suggest that: 1) clinically significant cardiac disease in childhood is more prevalent than previously reported; and 2) improved screening methods should be considered to detect asymptomatic but significant cardiac abnormalities that may result in long-term complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-818
Number of pages4
Issue number4 I
StatePublished - Apr 2000


  • Children
  • Echocardiography
  • Heart disease
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence


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