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      Cardiomyopathy Related to Antimalarial Therapy with Illustrative Case Report


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          The antimalarial agents, chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) are used in long-term treatment of connective tissue diseases and dermatological disorders and are generally regarded as safe. We present one case of cardiotoxicity in a 59-year-old woman treated with antimalarials during 13 years for a discoid lupus erythematosus. She progressively developed conduction disturbances and congestive heart failure (CHF). When the diagnosis of antimalarials toxicity was suspected, CQ was withdrawn. However, heart transplantation had to be performed in the following 4 months for severe CHF. Indeed, rare but severe cardiotoxicity may develop following prolonged use of antimalarials with both conduction disturbances (45 patients) and CHF (25 patients). These cardiac toxic effects have been reported with CQ and less frequently with HCQ use alone. Diagnoses are often delayed since the toxicity of the drug might be misattributed to other factors in these patients. The endomyocardial biopsy, or in some cases the muscle biopsy, are essential to confirm the antimalarials toxicity. Antimalarials have been stopped in 12 cases of CHF, leading to improvement in 8 cases (within 3 months to 5 years) and to deaths or to heart transplantation in 4 cases (within 1 week to 3 months). In the latter cases, as in our patient, the lack of improvement may have been explained by the severity of the cardiomyopathy at diagnosis and the short delay since withdrawal. As a consequence, the potential for reversibility and the severity in undiagnosed cases of these toxic cardiomyopathies emphasize the importance of recognizing early signs of toxicity in order to withdraw antimalarials before the occurrence of life-threatening CHF.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Hydroxychloroquine cardiotoxicity in systemic lupus erythematosus: a report of 2 cases and review of the literature.

          Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is extensively used in the long-term treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Although considered by clinicians to be relatively safe, serious side effects have been documented in the literature. Retinotoxicity has received the most attention, whereas neuromyotoxicity and cardiotoxicity have been described in isolated case reports. We present 2 cases of potential cardiotoxicity occurring in patients with SLE while receiving long-term HCQ therapy. To review the incidence, presentation, and mechanism of serious antimalarial toxicity, and to discuss the impact of HCQ on cardiac health in SLE. The authors reviewed the English-language literature from 1948 to December 2002 using Medline databases. In addition to our patients, there are 2 published cases of biopsy-proven HCQ cardiotoxicity in the English-language literature. Both occurred in patients with SLE. The literature indicates that antimalarial cardiotoxicity may be of particular importance in patients with SLE given their already increased cardiac risk due to primary heart disease and accelerated atherosclerosis. Endomyocardial biopsy reveals a constellation of findings including vacuolar myopathy, myeloid bodies, and curvilinear bodies. As HCQ use among SLE patients increases, clinicians should be alert to the possibility of antimalarial cardiotoxicity. The potential severity and reversibility of this complication underscore the importance of timely diagnosis. The cases presented here, one with biopsy and one without, illustrate the utility of endomyocardial biopsy in HCQ-treated SLE patients with cardiac complaints to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.
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            Diagnosis of chloroquine cardiomyopathy by endomyocardial biopsy.

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              Cardiac toxicity secondary to long term treatment with chloroquine.


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                February 2007
                22 June 2006
                : 107
                : 2
                : 73-80
                aService de Médecine Interne, bService de Pharmacologie, cLaboratoire d’anatomopathologie, dExploration fonctionnelles neurologiques, eDépartement de Cardiologie, and fService de Chirurgie Thoracique et Cardio-vasculaire, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France
                94079 Cardiology 2007;107:73–80
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, References: 37, Pages: 8
                Case Report


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