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Int J Cardiol. 2017 Dec 15;249:319-323. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2017.07.014.

Pheochromocytoma as a reversible cause of cardiomyopathy: Analysis and review of the literature.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, United States.
Division of Endocrinology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, United States. Electronic address:
Division of Endocrinology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, United States.



Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma are rare neuroendocrine tumors which overproduce catecholamines and arise from the adrenal gland or extra-adrenal chromaffin cells of the sympathetic and parasympathetic ganglia (1). Excessive catecholamine-induced stimulation of cardiac myocytes leads to damage which manifests in several forms ranging from Takotsubo to dilated cardiomyopathy. Diagnosis of pheochromocytoma-related cardiomyopathies is often delayed due to the atypical presentation associated with many cases.


Limited data exists on the presentation and outcomes of the various forms of pheochromocytoma-induced cardiomyopathies. We performed a literature review to assess the association of pheochromocytoma and cardiomyopathy to aide in further understanding this clinical entity.


163 cases from 150 articles published between 1991 and November 2016 were included from a PubMed search.


There were 163 occurrences of pheochromocytoma and cardiomyopathy (63 dilated cardiomyopathy, 38 Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, 30 inverted Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, 10 HOCM, 8 myocarditis, and 14 unspecified cardiomyopathy). Many patients lacked classic signs or symptoms of pheochromocytoma with hypertension as a presenting symptom in 65% and the triad of headache, palpitations, and diaphoresis only in 4%. Resection of the pheochromocytoma led to improvement of the cardiomyopathy in 96% while lack of resection was associated with death or cardiac transplantation in 44%.


Pheochromocytoma should be considered in the evaluation of non-ischemic, non-valvular cardiomyopathy even in the absence of symptoms of catecholamine excess. Our study highlights the importance of early suspicion and diagnosis of pheochromocytoma in cases of idiopathic heart failure as early resection may prevent progression to irreversible myocardial remodeling and death.


Dilated; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Myocarditis; Pheochromocytoma; Takotsubo

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