Cardiac Manifestations of Systemic Disease


Eric H. Awtry image Wilson S. Colucci

The common systemic disorders that have associated cardiac manifestations are summarized in Table 24-1.

TABLE 24-1



Diabetes mellitus, both insulin- and non-insulin-dependent, is an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD; Chap. 30) and accounts for 14–50% of new cases of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, CAD is the most common cause of death in adults with diabetes mellitus. In the diabetic population the incidence of CAD relates to the duration of diabetes and the level of glycemic control, and its pathogenesis involves endothelial dysfunction, increased lipoprotein peroxidation, increased inflammation, a prothrombotic state, and associated metabolic abnormalities.

Diabetic patients are more likely to have a myocardial infarction, have a greater burden of CAD, have larger infarct size, and have more postinfarct complications, including heart failure, shock, and death, than are nondiabetics. Importantly, diabetic patients are more likely to have atypical ischemic symptoms; nausea, dyspnea, pulmonary edema, arrhythmias, heart block, or syncope may be their anginal equivalent. Additionally, “silent ischemia,” resulting from autonomic nervous system dysfunction, is more common in diabetic patients, accounting for up to 90% of their ischemic episodes. Thus, one must have a low threshold for suspecting CAD in diabetic patients. The treatment of diabetic patients with CAD must include aggressive risk factor management. Pharmacologic therapy and revascularization are similar in diabetic patients and nondiabetics except that diabetic patients have higher morbidity and mortality rates associated with revascularization, have an increased risk of restenosis after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), and probably have improved survival when treated with surgical bypass compared with PCI for multivessel CAD.

Patients with diabetes mellitus also may have abnormal left ventricular systolic and diastolic function, reflecting concomitant epicardial CAD and/or hypertension, coronary microvascular disease, endothelial dysfunction, ventricular hypertrophy, and autonomic dysfunction. A restrictive cardiomyopathy may be present with abnormal myocardial relaxation and elevated ventricular filling pressures. Histologically, interstitial fibrosis is seen, and intramural arteries may demonstrate intimal thickening, hyaline deposition, and inflammatory changes. Diabetic patients have an increased risk of developing clinical heart failure, which probably contributes to their excessive cardiovascular morbidity and mortality rates. There is some evidence that insulin therapy may ameliorate diabetes-related myocardial dysfunction.



In patients whose intake of protein, calories, or both is severely deficient, the heart may become thin, pale, and hypokinetic with myofibrillar atrophy and interstitial edema. The systolic pressure and cardiac output fall, and the pulse pressure narrows. Generalized edema is common and relates to a variety of factors, including reduced serum oncotic pressure and myocardial dysfunction. Such profound states of protein and calorie malnutrition, termed kwashiorkor and marasmus, respectively, are most common in underdeveloped countries. However, significant nutritional heart disease also may occur in developed nations, particularly in patients with chronic diseases such as AIDS, patients with anorexia nervosa, and patients with severe cardiac failure in whom gastrointestinal hypoperfusion and venous congestion may lead to anorexia and malabsorption. Open-heart surgery poses increased risk in malnourished patients, and those patients may benefit from preoperative hyperalimentation.

Thiamine deficiency (beriberi)

Generalized malnutrition often is accompanied by thiamine deficiency; however, this hypovitaminosis also may occur in the presence of an adequate protein and caloric intake, particularly in the Far East, where polished rice deficient in thiamine may be a major dietary component. In Western nations where the use of thiamine-enriched flour is widespread, clinical thiamine deficiency is limited primarily to alcoholics, food faddists, and patients receiving chemotherapy. Nonetheless, when thiamine stores are measured using the thiaminepyrophosphate effect (TPPE), thiamine deficiency has been found in 20–90% of patients with chronic heart failure. This deficiency appears to result from both reduced dietary intake and a diuretic-induced increase in the urinary excretion of thiamine. The acute administration of thiamine to these patients increases the left ventricular ejection fraction and the excretion of salt and water.

Clinically, patients with thiamine deficiency usually have evidence of generalized malnutrition, peripheral neuropathy, glossitis, and anemia. The classic associated cardiovascular syndrome is characterized by high-output heart failure, tachycardia, and often elevated biventricular filling pressures. The major cause of the high-output state is vasomotor depression leading to reduced systemic vascular resistance, the precise mechanism of which is not understood. The cardiac examination reveals a wide pulse pressure, tachycardia, a third heart sound, and, frequently, an apical systolic murmur. The electrocardiogram (ECG) may reveal decreased voltage, a prolonged QT interval, and T-wave abnormalities. The chest x-ray generally reveals cardiomegaly and signs of congestive heart failure (CHF). The response to thiamine is often dramatic, with an increase in systemic vascular resistance, a decrease in cardiac output, clearing of pulmonary congestion, and a reduction in heart size often occurring in 12–48 h. Although the response to inotropes and diuretics may be poor before thiamine therapy, these agents may be important after

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Dec 25, 2016 | Posted by in CARDIOLOGY | Comments Off on Cardiac Manifestations of Systemic Disease
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