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CardioNerds (Amit Goyal and Daniel Ambinder), are joined by guest host Dr. Alex Pipilas (CardioNerds Ambassader, Boston University), and Cleveland Clinic fellows, Dr. Gary Parizher, Dr. Ambreen Ali, and Dr. Tiffany Dong. They discuss a case of an 18-year-old man with Autism Spectrum Disorder presented with advanced nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. Due to anxiety, he was unable to tolerate right heart catheterization, and the initial evaluation for advanced heart failure therapies was deferred. With assistance from a multidisciplinary team, catheterization was successful, and he underwent cardiac transplantation. Faculty experts, Dr. Richard Dane Meredith (Cardiovascular Imaging, Mission healthcare), Dr. Julie Niezgoda (Congenital Cardiac Anesthesiologist, CCF), and Dr. Ran Lee (Critical Care Cardiology and Advanced HF/Transplant Cardiologist, CCF) provide the E-CPR for this episode. Audio editing by CardioNerds Academy Intern, Dr. Leticia Helms.
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Pearls – Heart Failure with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Autism spectrum disorder should not be regarded as a contraindication to organ transplantation.
- Respect for patient discomfort with procedures, and efforts to mitigate that discomfort, are essential.
- A multidisciplinary team approach, especially one utilizing allied health support services, is important to provide care to adolescent patients with advanced organ dysfunction, particularly those with developmental disabilities.
Notes – Heart Failure with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability characterized by impairments in social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, or activities (2). In 2016 the CDC estimated one in 54 children age 8 had ASD (3). Despite ASD’s prevalence, studies of organ transplantation in children and adolescents with developmental disabilities are lacking. Guidelines from the International Society for Heart Lung Transplantation indicate that heart transplantation cannot be recommended in patients suffering from severe cognitive-behavioral disabilities (4). However, the definition of “severe” is not clear, so the assessment of severity of a cognitive impairment, as well as whether the impairment constitutes a contraindication to organ transplantation, falls to healthcare providers on a case-by-case basis.
Cardiac transplantation in a patient with ASD has been documented previously (5). Nonetheless our case represents an important example of advocacy for lifesaving care in patients with developmental disability. Without any one component of the team taking care of our patient, including physicians and allied healthcare providers, he would have died of refractory cardiogenic shock. However, with individualized care and a multidisciplinary combined effort, his providers were able to overcome the obstacles posed by his ASD and deliver indicated interventions.
References – Heart Failure with Autism Spectrum Disorder
1. Baran, David A., et al. “SCAI clinical expert consensus statement on the classification of cardiogenic shock” Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions 94.1 (2019): 29-37.
2. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
3. Baio J, Wiggins L, Christensen D, et al. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among children aged 8 years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2018; 67:1-23.
4. Mehra M, Canter C, Hannan M, et al. The 2016 International Society for Heart Lung Transplantation listing criteria for heart transplantation: a 10-year update. J Heart Lung Transplant 2016; 35:1-23.
5. Bailey D, Schneider L, Maeda K, et al. Orthotopic heart transplant in a child with nonverbal autism. Austin J Autism & Relat Disabil 2016;2:1017.
6. Chen Y, Shlofmitz E, Khalid N, et al. Right Heart Catheterization-Related Complications: A review of the literature and best practices. Cardiol Rev 2020;28:36-41.