Steroid therapy and cardiac function in duchenne muscular dystrophy

L. W. Markham, R. L. Spicer, P. R. Khoury, B. L. Wong, K. D. Mathews, L. H. Cripe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Duchenne muscular dystrophy leads to progressive deterioration in skeletal and cardiac muscle function. Steroids prolong ambulation and improve respiratory muscle strength. The authors hypothesized that steroid treatment would stabilize cardiac muscle function. Echocardiograms performed from 1997 to 2004 for 111 subjects 21 years of age or younger with Duchenne muscular dystrophy were restrospectively reviewed. The medical record was reviewed for steroid treatment. Untreated and steroids-treated subjects did not differ in age, height, weight, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, or left ventricular mass. The shortening fraction was lower in the untreated group. Of those treated, 29 received prednisone and 19 received deflazacort. There was no difference in the shortening fraction between the two treated subgroups. Treated subjects not receiving steroids still had a normal shortening fraction, which was no different from the shortening fraction of those still receiving treatment. As compared with the treated subjects, the untreated subjects 10 years of age or younger were 4.4 times more likely to have a shortening fraction less than 28% (p = 0.03), and the untreated subjects older than 10 years were 15.2 times more likely to have a shortening fraction less than 28% (p < 0.01). This retrospective study suggests that the progressive decline in cardiac function of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can be altered by steroid treatment. The effect appears to be sustained beyond the duration of treatment and independent of steroid type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-771
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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