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Int J Cardiol. 2008 Oct 13;129(3):318-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2008.02.019. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

Carcinoid heart disease.

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Department of Gastroenterological Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, CT06520-8062, USA.


The carcinoid syndrome is usually evident when enterochromaffin (EC) cell-derived neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoids) metastasize to the liver. In addition to carcinoid symptomatology, about 40% of patients exhibit carcinoid heart disease (CHD) with fibrotic endocardial plaques and associated heart valve dysfunction. The mechanism behind CHD development is not fully understood, but serotonin (5-HT) is considered to be a major initiator of the fibrotic process. Most patients present with right-sided heart valve dysfunction since pulmonary and tricuspid valves lesions are the most common (>95%) cardiac pathology. Left-sided valvular involvement, and angina associated with coronary vasospasm occur in ~10% of subjects with CHD. Pathognomonic echocardiograpic features include immobility of valve leaflets and thickening and retraction of the cusps most commonly resulting in tricuspid valve regurgitation and pulmonary stenosis. Therapeutic options include cardioactive pharmacotherapy for heart failure and, in selected individuals, cardiac valve replacement. Previously valve replacement was reserved for advanced disease due to a perioperative mortality of >20% however in the last decade, technical advances as well as an earlier diagnosis have decreased surgical mortality to <10% and valve replacements are undertaken more frequently. A recent analysis of 200 cases demonstrated an increase in median survival from 1.5 years to 4.4 years in the last two decades. Although the improved prognosis might also reflect the increased use of surgical cytoreduction, hepatic metastatic ablative therapies and somatostatin analogs a robust correlation between diminution of circulating tumor products and an increased long-term survival in CHD has not been rigorously demonstrated.

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