What Is Paraganglioma of the Heart?Paraganglioma of the heart is an extremely rare type of tumor that originates from the paraganglionic cells associated with the autonomic nervous system, which are found throughout the body, including in and around the heart. These tumors, part of a group known as neuroendocrine tumors, can produce catecholamines, which are hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, leading to various systemic symptoms.
SymptomsSymptoms of cardiac paraganglioma can be varied and may mimic other cardiovascular conditions, including:
- High blood pressure, which may be difficult to control with standard treatments.
- Heart palpitations or arrhythmias.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Sweating, headaches, or panic attack-like symptoms due to excess catecholamine production.
- Fatigue or weakness.
Disease Aetiology (Causes)The exact cause of paraganglioma, including those occurring in the heart, is not well understood, but they can be associated with:
- Genetic mutations, some of which may be inherited.
- A family history of paragangliomas or related conditions.
- Sporadic mutations with unknown triggers.
DiagnosisDiagnosing a paraganglioma of the heart involves:
- Imaging studies such as MRI, CT scan, or echocardiography to identify the presence and location of the tumor.
- Biochemical tests to measure levels of catecholamines and their metabolites in the blood and urine.
- Genetic testing, especially if there is a family history of paraganglioma or related tumors.
TreatmentTreatment for paraganglioma of the heart focuses on managing symptoms and removing the tumor, when possible, through:
- Surgery, which is often the primary treatment option to remove the tumor completely.
- Medication to control symptoms caused by excess catecholamine production, such as high blood pressure.
- Radiation therapy or targeted therapy may be options in cases where surgery is not feasible or the tumor has spread.