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  • Author
    Roger Quach
  • Co-author

    Geoffrey Cho, MD

  • Title

    Cardio-Autism: Improving the Heart-Brain Interface

  • Abstract

    Advances in our medical knowledge of both cardiac and neurological diseases demonstrates that an increased understanding of the heart-brain interaction is vital to treat patients appropriately. It is well established that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide as well as the foremost driver of healthcare expenses. However, the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the autism population is not well defined, likely in part due to multiple issues such as heterogenicity of the disorder, study selection criteria, and difficulty in managing patients with special needs.

    Recently, studies show that genetic mutations that lead to cardiac disease also increase the risk of neurological disorders such as autism. In addition, certain chromosomal disorders have overlapping pathologies of heart defects together with autism, suggesting that shared mechanisms predilect towards both conditions. Autistic individuals also demonstrate increased cardiac autonomic dysfunction and patients with congenital heart disease have an associated higher incidence of autism.

    Therefore, attention to this important, yet under-recognized connection between the heart and autism, is critical for designing individualized treatments that benefit patients via an improved understanding of their disease.

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