Journal of the Endocrine Society Journal Article

Myxedema Heart and Pseudotamponade

January 04, 2021
 

Chelsey Baldwin, Jonathan D Newman, Franco Vallejo, Valerie Peck, Loren Wissner Greene, Ira J Goldberg
Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2021, bvaa125
https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvaa125

Abstract

Context

Thyroid hormone plays a critical role in cardiovascular function. Severe hypothyroidism can be associated with “myxedema heart” characterized by relative bradycardia and pericardial effusion. Effusions associated with severe hypothyroidism can be large. Despite the large volume of effusions, tamponade is not a common consequence. However, with the incorporation of echocardiography into routine practice for evaluation of effusion, echocardiographic findings suggestive of clinical tamponade occur frequently.

Case Description

We report a series of 3 patients with large pericardial effusions secondary to severe hypothyroidism. These cases serve to demonstrate the discordance between echocardiographic signs consistent with tamponade with a patient’s stable clinical hemodynamics. We also report the development of bronchial obstruction, a rare complication of a large effusion due to severe hypothyroidism.

Conclusions

While pericardial effusion associated with severe hypothyroidism has been described for decades, the echocardiographic findings may be less well known and may lead to unnecessary downstream testing or invasive management. We use our case series to facilitate a summary of what is known about the epidemiology, mechanism and physiology, and expected outcomes of myxedema associated pericardial effusion. Finally, in the setting of current paucity of clinical guidelines, we aim to familiarize clinicians with the phenomenon of pseudotamponade and suggest management strategies for myxedema associated pericardial effusion to guide clinicians to use conservative medical management in majority of cases.

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