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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 76

of 'Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of the thalassemias'

Cardiac involvement in thalassemia intermedia: a multicenter study.
Aessopos A, Farmakis D, Karagiorga M, Voskaridou E, Loutradi A, Hatziliami A, Joussef J, Rombos J, Loukopoulos D
Blood. 2001;97(11):3411.
Cardiac complications in 110 patients (mean age, 32.5 +/- 11.4 years) with thalassemia intermedia (TI) were studied. Sixty-seven (60.9%) of them had not been transfused or were minimally transfused (group A). The rest had started transfusions after the age of 5 years (mean, 15.1 +/- 10.1 years), initially on demand and later more frequently (group B). Overall mean hemoglobin and ferritin levels were 9.1 +/- 1.1 g/dL and 1657 +/- 1477 ng/mL, respectively. Seventy-six healthy controls were also studied. The investigation included thorough history taking, clinical examination, electrocardiography, chest radiograph, and full resting echocardiography. Of 110 patients, 6 (5.4%) had congestive heart failure (CHF), and 9 (8.1%) had a history of acute pericarditis. Echocardiography showed pericardial thickening, with or without effusion, in 34.5% of the patients. Valvular involvement included leaflet thickening (48.1%), endocardial calcification (20.9%), and left-sided valve regurgitation (aortic, 15.4%; mitral, 47.2%). All patients had normal left ventricular contractility (fractional shortening, 0.43 +/- 0.05), and high cardiac output (CO; 9.34 +/- 2.28 L/min). Pulmonary hypertension (PHT), defined as Doppler peak systolic tricuspid gradient greater than 30 mm Hg, developed in 65 patients (59.1%). PHT correlated positively with age and CO and did not differ significantly between groups. Cardiac catheterization in the 6 patients with CHF revealed severe PHT, increased pulmonary resistance (PVR), and normal capillary wedge pressure. It was concluded that in patients with TI, the heart is primarily affected by PHT, which is the leading cause of CHF. High CO resulting from chronic tissue hypoxia and increased PVR are the main contributing factors. Doppler tricuspid gradient measurement should be considered, in addition to other factors, when determining the value of transfusion therapy for patients with TI. (Blood. 2001;97:3411-3416)
First Department of Internal Medicine, University of Athens School of Medicine, Laiko General Hospital, 17 Aghiou Thoma Street, Athens 115 27, Greece.