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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001 Mar;10(1):54-7.

Pericardial effusions in anorexia nervosa.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie des Kindes- und Jugendalters, Universität zu Köln Robert Koch Str. 10, 50931 Köln, Germany.


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that may be accompanied by cardiac symptoms of varying severity. So far disturbances like arrhythmias, mitral valve prolapse and loss of cardial ventricle mass have been described. Other somatic complications consist of electrolyte and acid-base imbalances, which in turn influence cardiac function. Between 1990 and 1999 we observed ten case reports from inpatient anorexic female adolescents, who developed pericardial effusions in the course of their illness. The diagnosis and course was revealed by echocardiography. No signs of heart failure could be noticed. In eight patients pericardial effusion remitted completely or partly by a concurrent increase in weight. A distinct pathophysiology for the development of pericardial effusion could not be revealed, but a correlation to restoration of weight seems to exist. Our report suggests that pericardial effusions are more frequent cardiac complications in anorexia nervosa than previously known. In most cases the clinical significance is doubtful.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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