Effects of self-induced starvation on cardiac size and function in anorexia nervosa.
Cardiac size, function and rhythm were examined in 11 patients with anorexia nervosa. Mean left ventricular, left atrial and aortic dimensions on echocardiogram were below normal adult values at baseline. In addition to decreased cardiac dimensions--ventricular ectopy, relative hypotension, bradycardia and blunted heart rate--response to exercise were noted. Left ventricular systolic function, however, was unimpaired as indicated by normal echocardiographic fractional shortening, and by normal exercise augmentation of ejection fraction determined by radionuclide cineangiography. Eight of the patients responded to treatment with a mean weight gain of 32%. In these eight, cardiac dimensions increased toward normal: left ventricular dimension increased by 13%; left atrial dimension by 20%; aortic dimension by 15% and estimated left ventricular mass by 20%. We conclude that abnormalities of heart size and rhythm occur in patients with anorexia nervosa. However, cardiac dimensions, including left ventricular mass, may increase following nutritional rehabilitation, accompanied by an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
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