Fluorinated steroids are not superior to any treatment to ameliorate the outcome of autoimmune mediated congenital heart block: a systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis

OBJECTIVES Fluorinated steroids are largely the therapeutic approach of autoimmune mediated congenital heart block (CHB). We performed a meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of fluorinated steroids for the treatment of CHB.
METHODS Studies evaluating the efficacy of fluorinated steroids versus no treatment in CHB patients were identified in electronic databases. Random-effects model was used to pool odds ratio (OR) (with 95% CI) of live births as the primary outcome. ORs of CHB progression, pacemaker implantation and extranodal disease were the secondary outcome. Subgroup analysis according to CHB grade and study type was performed.
RESULTS Data from nine studies involving 747 patients were analysed. The overall live birth rates were 86.8% and 86.7%, respectively, in the fluorinated steroids exposed foetuses and in the non-exposed ones. Fluorinated steroids did not ameliorate overall survival in CHB (OR 1.02; 95% CI: 0.65-1.61) with any significant statistical heterogeneity between studies (I2 0%, p=0.45). No significant differences for the progression of CHB, the pacing and the presence of extranodal disease were observed. Subgroup analysis revealed a significant protective role of fluorinated steroids for survival in 3rd degree CHB and for pacing in monocentric studies, OR 4.07; 95% CI: 1.10-15.08 and OR 0.15; 95% CI: 0.02-0.99, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS This meta-analysis shows that fluorinated steroids are not superior to any treatment in patients with CHB in terms of live birth, prevention of progression of incomplete CHB, pacemaker implantation and extranodal disease. Thus, considering their side effects, their use in CHB patients should be discouraged.

as reported in: Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2020 Jun 23 [Epub ahead of print]