Thirteen anaemic children on dialysis were assessed to determine the incidence of cardiac changes in end stage renal failure. Nine children had an increased cardiothoracic ratio on radiography. The electrocardiogram was abnormal in every case but no child had left ventricular hypertrophy as assessed by voltage criteria. However, left ventricular hypertrophy, often gross, was found on echocardiography in 12 children and affected the interventricular septum disproportionately. Cardiac index was increased in 10 patients as a result of an increased left ventricular stroke volume rather than heart rate. Left ventricular hypertrophy was significantly greater in those on treatment for hypertension and in those with the highest cardiac index. Abnormal diastolic ventricular function was found in 6/11 children. Children with end stage renal failure have significant cardiac abnormalities that are likely to contribute to the high cardiovascular mortality in this group. Anaemia and hypertension, or its treatment, probably contribute to these changes. Voltage criteria on electrocardiogram are of no value in detecting left ventricular hypertrophy. Echocardiography must be performed, with the results corrected for age and surface area, in order to detect and follow these abnormalities.
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