Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus & ISI's SCI  
Users online: 4769  
Home | Subscribe | Feedback | Login 
About Latest Articles Back-Issues Articlesmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Etcetera Contact
 :: Next article
 :: Previous article 
 :: Table of Contents
 ::  Similar in PUBMED
 ::  Search Pubmed for
 ::  Search in Google Scholar for
 ::  Article in PDF (140 KB)
 ::  Citation Manager
 ::  Access Statistics
 ::  Reader Comments
 ::  Email Alert *
 ::  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free) 

  IN THIS Article
 ::  What is the diff...
 ::  What are the che...
 ::  What is the find...
 ::  What is the coag...
 ::  Why should pulmo...
 ::  What initiated t...
 ::  When to suspect ...
 ::  How does cardiac...
 ::  References
 ::  Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded182    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2003  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 343-345

Multiple Pulmonary Infarcts and Reversible Left Ventricular Dysfunction in a Patient with Chronic Heart Disease

Department of Cardiology, Madras Medical College, Chennai, India

Correspondence Address:
A Chockalingam
Cardiology, Madras Medical College, 9 A Taylors Road, Chennai - 600010,
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 14699235

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Chockalingam A, Gnanavelu G, Chockalingam V, Dorairajan S. Multiple Pulmonary Infarcts and Reversible Left Ventricular Dysfunction in a Patient with Chronic Heart Disease. J Postgrad Med 2003;49:343-5

How to cite this URL:
Chockalingam A, Gnanavelu G, Chockalingam V, Dorairajan S. Multiple Pulmonary Infarcts and Reversible Left Ventricular Dysfunction in a Patient with Chronic Heart Disease. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2003 [cited 2023 Jun 4];49:343-5. Available from:

A 36-year-old woman with chronic rheumatic heart disease (RHD) with moderate mitral regurgitation, on oral penicillin prophylaxis for 6 years, developed progressive effort intolerance and severe chest discomfort over 1 week. Initial evaluation on hospitalisation revealed moderate respiratory distress at respiratory rate of 35/minute, sinus tachycardia at 120/ minute with blood pressure of 118/ 70 mm Hg. Jugular venous pressure was elevated to 8 cm with normal waveforms. Systolic heart murmur suggestive of mitral regurgitation and 3rd heart sound were present with extensive bilateral crepitations. ECG showed non-specific repolarisation abnormality. Chest X-ray on admission confirmed cardiomegaly with left atrial and left ventricular enlargement, straightening of the left heart border and alveolar oedema [Figure - 1].

  ::   What is the differential diagnosis at this stage? What could have caused the pulmonary oedema in this RHD patient? Top

1. Congestive heart failure (CHF) due to rheumatic reactivation-myocarditis

2. CHF due to worsening mitral regurgitation-valvulitis

3. CHF due to associated anaemia, fever, respiratory infection

4. Primary pneumonitis or Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) - atypical presentations

5. Pulmonary embolism, a rare phenomenon

Congestive cardiac failure in chronic RHD is still very common in developing countries. A rigorous search for infective endocarditis, tachyarrhythmias, rheumatic reactivity, progressive valvular disease and other precipitants like anaemia, infections, sepsis, renal dysfunction, and thyrotoxicosis must be routinely undertaken. The importance of excluding coronary heart disease, metabolic or hypertensive cardiac dysfunction cannot be overemphasised.

Initial blood chemistry, haemogram and RHD reactivation tests, including C reactive protein, ASO titre and ESR were unrevealing. Heart failure responded to therapy but chest pain persisted. Chest X- ray repeated on the fourth hospital day [Figure - 2] showed clearing of venous congestion and new development of multiple wedge-shaped opacities with the base towards the pleura.

  ::   What are the chest x-ray findings in pulmonary thromboembolism? Top

Chest X- ray provides diagnostic evidence of pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) only in a minority of cases. Smaller emboli that obstruct pulmonary artery branches typically produce infarctions that extend as a wedge from that point with the base towards the pleura. Also called “Hampton's hump”, these can be expected to produce local pleural inflammation and pleuritic chest pain. There are some case reports of pulmonary oedema in association with pulmonary embolism.[1],[2],[3] Ours is a rare case where overt heart failure effectively 'masked' the presence of multiple typical pulmonary infarcts. Literature review revealed one instance where mild heart failure 'helped' diagnose PTE by accentuating the relative oligaemia of one lung segment.[4]

Based on the radiological suspicion of pulmonary embolism, evidence for deep vein thrombosis [DVT] was looked for with Doppler studies of the lower limbs, repeated twice, 4 days apart. DVT was not detected. Blood D-dimer assay was elevated at 35¼gm/ml. [Figure - 3] shows the lung perfusion scan.

[Figure - 3]? ">  ::   What is the finding in this lung scan [Figure - 3]?  Top

The study is with technetium 99 MAA lung perfusion study.

Multiple perfusion defects, wedge-shaped cold areas, are seen in the different views provided.

This is diagnostic of PTE.

Subsequently, prolonged APTT (63s control 26s), Kaolin clotting time (146s control 95s), diluted Russel's Viper venom time, lupus anticoagulants (LA), LA1- 92s (reference range

< 45s) and LA2- 43s (reference range < 38s), LA1: LA2 ratio 2.1, elevated antiphospholipid antibody, IgG 15.4 U/ml (reference range < 10), IgM 11.3 (normal < 10), and anticardiolipin antibody IgG 11.4 U/ml (reference range <10) were noted. Titres pointed towards underlying antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APLAS). Connective tissue disorder and coagulopathy testing were otherwise negative. Similar results were obtained on repeat testing after 2 months.

  ::   What is the coagulopathy in this case? Top

This patient had the clinical and laboratory evidence for the diagnosis of Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APLAS).

Other coagulation abnormalities were not present while screening.

Secondary APLAS occurs in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other connective tissue disorders-this was also ruled out

Echocardiography confirmed rheumatic mitral involvement by posterior mitral leaflet thickening, restricted mobility and moderate mitral regurgitation. Moderate left ventricular (LV) dysfunction with ejection fraction of 40% and moderate pulmonary hypertension were present. Cardiac catheterisation revealed normal coronary artery anatomy and tissue perfusion.

  ::   Why should pulmonary embolism develop in RHD? Top

1. LV dysfunction secondary to chronic mitral regurgitation or carditis of rheumatic reactivity

2. Heart failure-related reduced blood flow

3. CHF-related sluggish blood flow and pulmonary venous congestion

4. Right atrial stasis due to atrial fibrillation and

5. Prolonged immobilisations and subsequent DVT are some of the factors operating in RHD that can possibly lead to pulmonary embolism.

The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was confirmed and therapy started immediately with intravenous Heparin. Warfarin was started subsequently and antifailure medications reduced.

  ::   What initiated the clinical deterioration? Top

Our patient demonstrated simultaneous onset of effort intolerance and chest discomfort. Dyspnoea and chest pain are present in only 59% and 17% cases of PTE respectively.[5] In our case, overt heart failure at presentation appears to have effectively 'masked' the clinical and radiographic evidence of PTE. Typical echocardiography findings of PTE[6] were absent due to pre-existing pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular hypertrophy of chronic RHD.

Also, we found no laboratory evidence to suggest rheumatic fever reactivation. Thus, retrospectively we strongly suspect that underlying APLAS is the reason for the sudden clinical deterioration.

Based on the available evidence we feel that this is how the illness progressed:

1. Underlying RHD and moderate mitral regurgitation were stable (patient on oral penicillin prophylaxis) and probably coincidental.

2. Primary APLAS is the culprit pathology.

3. Pulmonary oedema resulted due to APLAS-related global LV dysfunction and

4. PTE due to APLAS and pulmonary congestion.

Intravenous heparin infusion was started and anti-failure medications and analgesics continued. Clinical improvement was rapid with complete resolution of chest pain and dyspnoea. Warfarin was started and International Normalised Ratio (INR) maintained between 2.5 and 3.5.

  ::   When to suspect and how to manage APLAS? Top

The absence of typical risk factors for PTE in women, like obesity, cigarette smoking, oral contraceptive pills, hypertension and prolonged travel, leaves only coagulation abnormalities as the possible cause for pulmonary embolism.[7] About half the time APLAS is primary and in the remaining cases secondary to SLE. APLAS is known to produce both arterial and venous thrombosis and recurrent miscarriages. Appropriate laboratory testing in this setting confirms the diagnosis. Maintenance of high therapeutic anticoagulation (International Normalized Ratio, INR, of over 3.0) appears to prevent recurrence of vascular thrombosis although the exact duration of this anticoagulation is still debated.[8]

Repeat echocardiography after 6 months showed improvement of left ventricular function and the patient is well at 1 year follow-up.

  ::   How does cardiac dysfunction occur in APLAS?  Top

Myocardial ischaemia, infarction and dysfunction can occur in APLAS due to

1. Intracardiac thrombi with subsequent embolisation[10],[11],[12]

2. Coronary and pulmonary in situ thrombosis[13]

3. Severe acute cor pulmonale related to thromboembolism, which could affect left ventricular function due to interventricular dependence[14]

4. Tissue level microvascular dysfunction or

5. Direct myocardial depressant effect.

Normal coronary angiogram, in this instance, eliminates atherosclerotic occlusions and embolisation. Reversibility of global LV dysfunction cannot be expected in the first 3 mechanisms. We have recently reported SLE and APLAS in a patient with pancarditis and reversible LV dysfunction.[9] Thus, we suspect the role of microvascular dysfunction and direct myocardial depressant effect in our case, which would explain the reversible global LV dysfunction without regional wall motion abnormality, and normal coronary angiography.

 :: References Top

1.Meth RF, Taskhin DP, Hansen KS, Simmons DH. Pulmonary edema and wheezing after pulmonary embolism. Am Rev Respir Dis 1975;111:693-8  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  
2.Dombert MC, Rouby JJ, Smiejan JM, Brun P, Saraux JL, Marmuse JP. Pulmonary oedema during pulmonary embolism. Br J Dis Chest 1987;81:407-10.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Jobe RL, Forman MB. Focal pulmonary embolism presenting as diffuse pulmonary edema. Chest 1993;103:644-6.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  
4.SJ Hutchison. The 'wet Westermark' sign. Can J Cardiol 2002;18:427-9.   Back to cited text no. 4    
5.TI Morgenthaler, JH Ryu. Clinical characteristics of fatal pulmonary embolism in a referral hospital. Mayo Clin Proc 1995;70:417-24.   Back to cited text no. 5    
6.McConnell MV, Solomon SD, Rayan ME, Come PC, Goldhaber SZ, Lee RT. Regional right ventricular dysfunction detected by echocardiography in acute pulmonary embolism. Am J Cardiol 1996;78:469-73   Back to cited text no. 6  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
7.Goldhaber SZ, Grodstein F, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Colditz GA, Speizer FE, et al. A prospective study of risk factors for pulmonary embolism in women. JAMA 1997;277:642-5.  Back to cited text no. 7  [PUBMED]  
8.Khamashta MA, Cuadrado MJ, Mujic F, Taub NA, Hunt BJ, Hughes GR. The management of thrombosis in the antiphospholipid-antibody syndrome. N Engl J Med 1995;332:993-7.   Back to cited text no. 8  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
9.Chockalingam A, Prabhakar D, Gnanavelu G, Chockalingam V. Pancarditis As Initial Presentation of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Int J Cardiol 2003;87:111-4.  Back to cited text no. 9  [PUBMED]  
10.Bruce D, Bateman D, Thomas R. Left ventricular thrombi in a patient with the antiphospholipid syndrome. Br Heart J 1995;74:202-3.   Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  
11.Day SM, Rosenzweig BP, Kronzon I. Transesophageal echocardiographic diagnosis of right atrial thrombi associated with the antiphospholipid syndrome. J Am Soc Echocardiogr 1995;8:937-40.  Back to cited text no. 11  [PUBMED]  
12.Brancaccio G, Di Gioia C, Prifti E, D'Amati G, Michielon G, Miraldi F. Antiphospholipid antibodies and intracardiac thrombosis. A case report. J Cardiovasc Surg 2002;43:479-82.  Back to cited text no. 12  [PUBMED]  
13.Lagana B, Baratta L, Tubani L, Golluscio V, Delfino M, Fanelli RF. Myocardial infarction with normal coronary arteries in a patient with primary antiphospholipid syndrome-case report and literature review. Angiology 2001;52:785-8  Back to cited text no. 13    
14.Asherson RA, Cervera R. Review: antiphospholipid antibodies and the lung. J Rheumatol 1995;22:62-6  Back to cited text no. 14    


[Figure - 1], [Figure - 2], [Figure - 3], [Figure - 4], [Figure - 5], [Figure - 6]


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article
Online since 12th February '04
© 2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow