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Case Report

EJMCR. 2018; 2(3): 121-125

Unusual electrocardiographic changes in a patient with pericardial effusion caused by rheumatoid arthritis: a case report

Giuseppe Cocco.

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Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an immune-related inflammatory disease which affects almost 1% of the general population and which is ranked among the top 15% of diseases causing major disability worldwide. RA shares some pathologic features, genetic predisposition, and risk factors with atherosclerosis, and inflammation plays a central pathophysiologic role in both diseases. RA is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. In RA, pericardial involvement is a frequent complication but rarely occurs as the first manifestation.
Case Presentation: A 63-year-old male patient with RA presented with an acute chest pain and in the Electrocardiography (ECG) ischemic ST-down-sloping in multiple leads. Echocardiography showed an abnormal "bounce" of the interventricular septum and a small-medium size pericardial effusion. The laboratory values showed high inflammatory parameters and confirmed the presence of active RA. Troponin T was normal and NT-proBNP was at level 2. There were no signs for vasculitis. Coronarography found only small non-stenotic changes in the coronary arteries. A rheumatologic consultant recommended prednisone and later on, tocilizumab. He was also treated with colchicine. The clinical condition improved within 2 weeks and the ECG changes normalized within a month. Three months later, an echocardiographic follow-up showed that the pericardial effusion and the left ventricular bounce had disappeared.
Conclusion: Small-medium size pericardial effusion manifesting as an acute coronary syndrome and with ischemic ECG changes is the most unusual finding. Indeed, the proper diagnosis of a pericardial effusion was made retrospectively

Key words: Pericardial effusion, rheumatoid arthritis, acute chest pain, atypical ECG changes.

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