Cardiovascular Manifestations of Pheochromocytoma

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Pheochromocytomas are rare endocrine tumors that can have a significant impact on a variety of organ systems, including the cardiovascular system. Although the pathophysiology is not completely understood, pheochromocytomas exert their effects through high levels of catecholamines, mainly epinephrine and norepinephrine, which stimulate adrenergic receptors, including those within the cardiovascular system. Although the most common cardiovascular manifestation is hypertension, patients with pheochromocytoma can present with arrhythmia, hypotension, shock, myocardial ischemia, cardiomyopathy, aortic dissection, and peripheral ischemia. The medical management of the cardiovascular effects of pheochromocytoma is via blockade of adrenergic receptors, usually through the use of alpha blockers, with the addition of beta blockers if needed. However, only surgical resection of the pheochromocytoma is potentially curative, and this tumor requires unique management perioperatively. Because of the variability of presentation and the significant morbidity and mortality of patients with an undiagnosed pheochromocytoma, this entity should not be overlooked in the evaluation of patients with a wide variety of cardiovascular disorders.

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