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Eur J Heart Fail. 2005 Aug;7(5):927-30.

A case of fatal ephedra intake associated with lipofuscin accumulation, caspase activation and cleavage of myofibrillary proteins.

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Division of Cardiology, VA Medical Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Ephedra, a herb reported to suppress appetite and stimulate the sympathetic nervous system as well as cardiac performance, has recently been related to several adverse events, including seizure, stroke, hypertension, myocardial infarction, and sudden death. Here, we describe the case of a 45-year-old woman who died of cardiovascular collapse while taking ephedra. Tissue analysis revealed non-specific degenerative alterations in the myocardium (lipofuscin accumulation, basophilic degeneration and vacuolation of myocytes, as well as myofibrillary loss), associated with myocyte apoptosis, caspase activation, and extensive cleavage of miofibrillary proteins alpha-actin, alpha-actinin, and cardiac troponin T. Healthcare professionals are therefore urged to warn their patients about the risk of serious adverse effects, which may follow ephedra intake.

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