Cardiovascular testing in Fabry disease: exercise capacity reduction, chronotropic incompetence and improved anaerobic threshold after enzyme replacement

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The aim of this study was to document exercise capacity and serial electrocardiogram and echocardiograph findings in a cohort of Australian patients with Fabry disease, in relation to their history of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT).


Fabry disease has multifactorial effects on the cardiovascular system. Most previous studies have focused on electrocardiographic and echocardiographic parameters. Exercise capacity can be used as an integrated measure of cardiovascular function and allows the effects of treatment to be monitored.


A total of 38 patients (30 men and 8 women) with Fabry disease were monitored by 12-lead electrocardiograms every 6–12 months, and by annual standardized-protocol echocardiograms. Bicycle stress tests with VO2 max measurement and once-only 6 minutes' walk tests were also carried out in subsets of patients whose general health status allowed testing.


Seventy per cent of patients met electrocardiogram criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy. Left ventricular hypertrophy on echocardiograph was present in 64% of patients (80% of men). Exercise capacity was reduced in patients with Fabry disease compared with that predicted from normative population data. Mild improvement in anaerobic threshold was seen in the first year of ERT (14.1 ± 3.0 to 15.8 ± 3.0, P= 0.02), but no consistent further increase was seen beyond the first year. Most patients had resting bradycardia, with impaired ability to increase heart rate during exercise. Serial testing on ERT showed an improvement in anaerobic threshold but no significant change in VO2 max.


Male patients with Fabry disease were unable to attain predicted maximal heart rate on exercise or to achieve normal exercise levels. ERT was associated with a small improvement in anaerobic threshold over the first year.

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