Clinical Focus


  • Pediatric Cardiology
  • Fetal Cardiology
  • Pediatric Echocardiography

Academic Appointments


Honors & Awards


  • Fellow, American College of Cardiology

Professional Education


  • Board Certification: American Board of Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology (2018)
  • Board Certification: American Board of Pediatrics, Pediatrics (2013)
  • Fellowship: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (2018) PA
  • Fellowship: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (2017) PA
  • MPH, University of California, Berkeley, Epidemiology (2014)
  • Residency: UCSF (2013) CA

All Publications


  • Decreasing Interstage Mortality After the Norwood Procedure: A 30-Year Experience. Journal of the American Heart Association Kaplinski, M., Ittenbach, R. F., Hunt, M. L., Stephan, D., Natarajan, S. S., Ravishankar, C., Giglia, T. M., Rychik, J., Rome, J. J., Mahle, M., Kennedy, A. T., Steven, J. M., Fuller, S. M., Nicolson, S. C., Spray, T. L., Gaynor, J. W., Mascio, C. E. 2020: e016889

    Abstract

    Background The superior cavo-pulmonary connection was introduced at our institution in 1988 for infants undergoing surgery for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome remain at high risk for mortality in the time period between the Norwood procedure and the superior cavo-pulmonary connection. The primary objectives of this study were to compare interstage mortality across 4 eras and analyze factors that may impact interstage mortality. Methods and Results Patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome who underwent the Norwood procedure, were discharged from the hospital, and were eligible for superior cavo-pulmonary connection between January 1, 1988, and December 31, 2017, were included. The study period was divided into 4 eras based on changes in operative or medical management. Mortality rates were estimated with 95% CIs. Adjusted and unadjusted logistic regression models were used to identify risk factors for mortality. There were 1111 patients who met the inclusion criteria. Overall, interstage mortality was 120/1111 (10.8%). Interstage mortality was significantly lower in era 4 relative to era 1 (4.6% versus 13.4%; P=0.02) during the time that age at the superior cavo-pulmonary connection was the lowest (135days; P<0.01) and the interstage monitoring program was introduced. In addition, use of the right ventricle to pulmonary artery shunt was associated with decreased interstage mortality (P=0.02) and was more routinely practiced in era 4. Conclusions During this 30-year experience, the risk of interstage mortality decreased significantly in the most recent era. Factors that coincide with this finding include younger age at superior cavo-pulmonary connection, introduction of an interstage monitoring program, and increased use of the right ventricle to pulmonary artery shunt.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/JAHA.120.016889

    View details for PubMedID 32964778

  • The Impact of Early Recognition and Treatment of Systemic Hypertension on Reducing Blood Pressure: The Hypertension and Vascular Evaluation Program. Clinical pediatrics Min, J., Griffis, H. M., Mendoza, M., Tam, V., Kaplinski, M., Kogon, A. J., Hanson, H., Meyers, K. E., Natarajan, S. S. 2020: 9922820927037

    Abstract

    This study aimed to evaluate the effect of an outpatient systemic hypertension program and associated factors with attending recommended follow-up visit. All visits were tracked in the program, 2011 to 2018. We examined patient characteristics by follow-up status and changes in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and the risk of hypertension in follow-up patients using a mixed-effects regression model. Among 310 patients with first visits, 113 patients returned for a follow-up visit. Patients who did not attend a follow-up were older and less likely to have a severe chronic condition or a family history of hypertension than followed-up patients. The risk of hypertension was significantly reduced by the number of follow-up visits (odds ratio = 0.53, 95% confidence interval = 0.31-0.92). Adolescent SBP and body mass index percentiles decreased with more follow-up visits. As the risk of hypertension is significantly reduced with follow-up visits, additional effort should be made to improve the likelihood of follow-up attendance.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0009922820927037

    View details for PubMedID 32476462

  • Clinical Innovation: A Multidisciplinary Program for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Systemic Hypertension in Children and Adolescents CLINICAL PEDIATRICS Kaplinski, M., Griffis, H., Liu, F., Tinker, C., Laney, N. C., Mendoza, M., Cohen, M. S., Meyers, K., Natarajan, S. S. 2020; 59 (3): 228–35
  • Outcomes for the superior cavopulmonary connection in children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome: a 30-year experience. European journal of cardio-thoracic surgery : official journal of the European Association for Cardio-thoracic Surgery Hunt, M. L., Ittenbach, R. F., Kaplinski, M., Ravishankar, C., Rychik, J., Steven, J. M., Fuller, S. M., Nicolson, S. C., Spray, T. L., Gaynor, J. W., Mascio, C. E. 2020

    Abstract

    The objective of this study was to estimate hospital mortality and length of stay (LOS) for children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome undergoing superior cavopulmonary connection (SCPC).All hypoplastic left heart syndrome interstage survivors who underwent SCPC between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 2017 were included. The study period was divided into 4 eras based on changes in operative or medical management. Mortality rates were estimated using standard binomial proportions. Adjusted and unadjusted logistic regression models were used to identify risk factors for mortality and LOS.The most common procedures for the cohort (n = 958) were Hemi-Fontan (57.3%) or Bidrectional Glenn shunt (35.7%). The mortality was 4.1% overall and decreased in all 3 later eras compared to era 1. Factors associated with mortality in a multiple covariate model included longer total support time, earlier gestational age, longer LOS at the Norwood Procedure and need for additional procedures. Overall, the median LOS was 7.0 days with a decrease from eras 1 to 2 and plateaued in eras 3 and 4. Predictors of longer LOS included genetic anomaly, longer Norwood LOS, additional procedures, lower weight at surgery and longer total support time. The type of SCPC was not associated with mortality or LOS.In this large cohort of patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome undergoing SCPC, hospital mortality has decreased significantly. LOS initially declined but plateaued in recent eras. The risk factors for mortality and longer LOS are related to patient and procedural complexity, especially the need for additional procedures at the time of SCPC.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/ejcts/ezaa117

    View details for PubMedID 32572451

  • Thirty years and 1663 consecutive Norwood procedures: Has survival plateaued? The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery Mascio, C. E., Irons, M. L., Ittenbach, R. F., Gaynor, J. W., Fuller, S. M., Kaplinski, M., Kennedy, A. T., Steven, J. M., Nicolson, S. C., Spray, T. L. 2019; 158 (1): 220–29

    Abstract

    Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is one of the most common and challenging lesions requiring surgical intervention in the neonatal period. The Norwood procedure for hypoplastic left heart syndrome was first reported in 1983. The objective of this study was to describe early outcomes after the Norwood procedure at a single institution over 30 years.This retrospective cohort study included all patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (and variants) who underwent the Norwood procedure between January 1984 and May 2014 at a single institution. The study period was divided into 6 eras: era 1, 1984 to 1988; era 2, 1989 to 1993; era 3, 1994 to 1998; era 4, 1999 to 2003; era 5, 2004 to 2008; and era 6, 2009 to 2014. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality after the Norwood procedure. Binomial point estimates complete with 95% confidence intervals (CL0.95) were computed for the entire cohort and by era.During the study period, 1663 infants underwent the Norwood procedure. Overall in-hospital mortality was 25.9% (CL0.95, 23.8-28.0). Mortality by chronologic era was 40.4% (CL0.95, 34.9-45.9), 33.6% (CL0.95, 29.2-37.9), 28.7% (CL0.95, 22.8-34.6), 14.9% (CL0.95, 10.4-19.3), 11.2% (CL0.95, 7.4-15.0), and 15.7% (CL0.95, 10.3-21.1). Survival was improved in eras 4 to 6 compared with eras 1 to 3 (P all < .03). Anomalous pulmonary drainage, moderate to severe atrioventricular valve regurgitation, lower birth weight, earlier era, younger gestational age, genetic anomaly, preterm birth, race other than white or African-American, and lower weight at the Norwood procedure were associated with increased mortality. Mortality was greatest in patients with 3 or more risk factors. In the best-fitting multiple covariate model, anomalous pulmonary venous drainage, gestational age in weeks, genetic anomaly, and race other than white and African American were statistically significant contributors, after adjusting for era.Survival after the Norwood procedure has plateaued despite improvements in diagnosis, perioperative care, and surgical techniques. Nonmodifiable patient characteristics are important determinants of the risk of mortality.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2018.12.117

    View details for PubMedID 31248509

  • The association of elevated maternal genetic risk scores for hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity and having a child with a congenital heart defect. PloS one Kaplinski, M., Taylor, D., Mitchell, L. E., Hammond, D. A., Goldmuntz, E., Agopian, A. J. 2019; 14 (5): e0216477

    Abstract

    Maternal hypertension, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity are associated with an increased risk of having offspring with conotruncal heart defects (CTDs). Prior studies have identified sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with risk for each of these three adult phenotypes. We hypothesized that these same SNPs are associated with maternal risk of CTDs in offspring.We evaluated the parents of children with a CTD ascertained from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (n = 466) and by the Pediatric Cardiac Genomic Consortium (n = 255). We used a family-based design to assess the association between CTDs and the maternal genotype for individual hypertension, T2D, and obesity-related SNPs and found no association between CTDs and the maternal genotype for any individual SNP. In addition, we calculated genetic risk scores (GRS) for hypertension, T2D, and obesity using previously published GRS formulas. When comparing the GRS of mothers to fathers, there were no statistically significant differences in the mean for the combined GRS or the GRS for each individual condition. However, when we categorized the mothers and fathers of cases with CTDs as having high (>95th percentile) or low (≤95th percentile) scores, compared to fathers, mothers had almost two times the odds of having a high GRS for hypertension (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0, 2.8) and T2D (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1, 3.1).Our results support a link between maternal genetic risk for hypertension/T2D and CTDs in their offspring. These associations might be independent of maternal phenotype at conception.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0216477

    View details for PubMedID 31141530

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6541344

  • Characterising adequacy or inadequacy of the borderline left ventricle: what tools can we use? Cardiology in the young Kaplinski, M., Cohen, M. S. 2015; 25 (8): 1482–88

    Abstract

    Borderline left ventricle refers to a spectrum of left ventricular underdevelopment, typically associated with other cardiac anomalies. The left ventricle may be mildly hypoplastic, as is sometimes seen accompanying aortic coarctation, or it can be severely hypoplastic, as is seen in hypoplastic left heart syndrome. For patients with a borderline left ventricle that is at either extreme, the treatment decision is relatively straightforward. Those with the most severe form of left ventricle hypoplasia will require single ventricle palliation or cardiac transplantation, whereas those with the mildest form may not need any intervention. It is the management strategy of children that fall within the grey zone of the spectrum, which continues to be controversial and remains variable within and among different institutions. Cardiac diseases with associated left ventricle hypoplasia include critical aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, arch hypoplasia, cor triatriatum, unbalanced common atrioventricular canal, Shone's complex, total anomalous pulmonary venous return, and complex conotruncal abnormalities. In this review, we will discuss the assessment and management of infants with borderline left ventricle with critical aortic stenosis or arch obstruction and associated mitral anomalies.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S1047951115002267

    View details for PubMedID 26675594

  • Sustained Domestic Vector Exposure Is Associated With Increased Chagas Cardiomyopathy Risk but Decreased Parasitemia and Congenital Transmission Risk Among Young Women in Bolivia. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Kaplinski, M., Jois, M., Galdos-Cardenas, G., Rendell, V. R., Shah, V., Do, R. Q., Marcus, R., Pena, M. S., Abastoflor, M. d., LaFuente, C., Bozo, R., Valencia, E., Verastegui, M., Colanzi, R., Gilman, R. H., Bern, C. 2015; 61 (6): 918–26

    Abstract

    We studied women and their infants to evaluate risk factors for congenital transmission and cardiomyopathy in Trypanosoma cruzi-infected women.Women provided data and blood for serology and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Infants of infected women had blood tested at 0 and 1 month by microscopy, PCR and immunoblot, and serology at 6 and 9 months. Women underwent electrocardiography (ECG).Of 1696 women, 456 (26.9%) were infected; 31 (6.8%) transmitted T. cruzi to their infants. Women who transmitted had higher parasite loads than those who did not (median, 62.0 [interquartile range {IQR}, 25.8-204.8] vs 0.05 [IQR, 0-29.6]; P < .0001). Transmission was higher in twin than in singleton births (27.3% vs 6.4%; P = .04). Women who had not lived in infested houses transmitted more frequently (9.7% vs 4.6%; P = .04), were more likely to have positive results by PCR (65.5% vs 33.9%; P < .001), and had higher parasite loads than those who had lived in infested houses (median, 25.8 [IQR, 0-64.1] vs 0 [IQR, 0-12.3]; P < .001). Of 302 infected women, 28 (9.3%) had ECG abnormalities consistent with Chagas cardiomyopathy; risk was higher for older women (odds ratio [OR], 1.06 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.01-1.12] per year) and those with vector exposure (OR, 3.7 [95% CI, 1.4-10.2]). We observed a strong dose-response relationship between ECG abnormalities and reported years of living in an infested house.We hypothesize that repeated vector-borne infection sustains antigen exposure and the consequent inflammatory response at a higher chronic level, increasing cardiac morbidity, but possibly enabling exposed women to control parasitemia in the face of pregnancy-induced Th2 polarization.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/cid/civ446

    View details for PubMedID 26063720

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4551010

  • Mobilizing your medications: an automated medication reminder application for mobile phones and hypertension medication adherence in a high-risk urban population. Journal of diabetes science and technology Patel, S., Jacobus-Kantor, L., Marshall, L., Ritchie, C., Kaplinski, M., Khurana, P. S., Katz, R. J. 2013; 7 (3): 630–39

    Abstract

    Hypertension frequently accompanies diabetes mellitus, worsening prognosis and complicating medical care for patients. Low medication adherence with multiple medications is a major factor in the inadequate achievement of blood pressure treatment goals. Widespread access to mobile phones offers a new opportunity to communicate with patients and enhance disease self-management.We recruited 50 high-risk urban patients with hypertension, who are using at least two prescription medications for hypertension, into an open-label trial using medication reminder software on a mobile phone. Medication adherence was assessed by review of pharmacy refill rates before, during, and after availability of the medication reminder software (pre-activation, activation, and post-activation phase, respectively).Forty-eight patients completed the study. All subjects were insured by Medicaid, 96% were African-American, and the majority had diabetes mellitus. The proportion of days covered for each study phase was as follows: pre-activation phase = 0.54, activation phase = 0.58, and post-activation phase = 0.46. A significant difference was found between the activation and post-activation phases (p = .001). The increase in measured adherence between the pre-activation and activation phases approached significance (p = .057). Forty-six patients completed the pre- and post-Morisky medication adherence survey. The median score rose from 2.0 at baseline to 3.0 at study completion (p < .001). Average blood pressure and level of control during study period improved significantly after initiation of the study and remained improved from baseline through the course of the study. The 48 subjects who completed the study reported a high level of satisfaction with the medication reminder application at the final study visit.A mobile-phone-based automated medication reminder system shows promise in improving medication adherence and blood pressure in high-cardiovascular-risk individuals.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/193229681300700307

    View details for PubMedID 23759395

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3869130