Silent pericardial effusion in a sample of anorexic patients

  • C. E. Ramacciotti
  • E. Coli
  • O. Biadi
  • L. Dell’Osso
Brief Report


Mortality in anorexic patients is mainly due to suicide or cardiac failure. The aim of this study was to investigate structural and functional cardiovascular alterations further by means of echocardiography in a sample of 15 medication-free patients with DSM-IV anorexia nervosa (AN) (BMI<17.5 kg/m2) and without any known cardiovascular disease and/or a family history of deafness or sudden death, and correlate the findings with clinical variables. The controls consisted of a sample of 10 constitutionally thin women (BMI<19 kg/m2), of comparable age, height and degree of physical activity. All of the subjects underwent Doppler echocardiography (ECHO), and the patients were also administered the Diagnostic Schedule for Eating Disorders (DSED) in order to assess the features and course of the eating disorder. ECHO revealed silent pericardial effusion in 71.4% of the patients vs. 10% of the controls (p<0.05); among the patients, the separation of pericardial leaflets was more frequent in those with a shorter duration of illness (p<0.05). Mitral valve motion abnormalities were more frequent among the patients than the controls (69.2% vs. 10%, p<0.005), and the left ventricular mass/body surface area was lower (54.8% vs. 59%, p<0.001). Isovolumetric relaxation time was longer in the patients (98.4 vs. 65 msec, p<0.01), but there were no significant differences in left ventricular ejection fraction (53.8% vs. 59%) or early diastolic deceleration time (146 vs. 155 msec). The results of this study support the association between AN and demonstrable anatomic and functional cardiac abnormalities, such as a reduced ventricular mass and mitral valve abnormalities. The ECHO findings provide evidence for clinically silent pericardial effusion in AN, which may be an early sign of cardiovascular involvement.

Key words

Anorexia nervosa echocardiography mitral valve pericardial effusion duration of illness 


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Copyright information

© Editrice Kurtis 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. E. Ramacciotti
    • 1
  • E. Coli
    • 1
  • O. Biadi
    • 2
  • L. Dell’Osso
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, Neurobiology and Biotechnologies, Section of PsychiatryUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.University of PisaItaly

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