What is it?
Myxoma is a primary cancerous tumor of the heart, usually irregular in shape and gelatinous inconsistency.
People may feel short of breath, faint, or have a fever or weight loss. Doctors confirm the diagnosis with echocardiography. Therefore, surgery is necessary to eliminate myxoma.
Myxomas usually occur in women, usually between 40 to 60 years.
Some common types of myxomas are hereditary. These hereditary myxomas (part of the complex of Carney, a syndrome of various non-cancerous tumors) generally develop in young men of 20 years.
How can a myxoma block blood flow in the heart?
A myxoma often grows from a stem and swings freely with blood flow. The oscillations occur, and the myxoma can move in and out of the nearby mitral valve, opening from the left atrium to the left ventricle.
When a person is standing, gravity causes the myxoma to close in the opening of the mitral valve, blocking blood flow through the heart.
This obstruction causes transient heart failure. Lying down usually causes the myxoma to move away from the valve and relieves symptoms.
The pieces of a myxoma can break (becoming emboli), travel through the bloodstream to other organs, and block the arteries.
The symptoms depend on which artery is blocked. For example, a blocked artery in the brain can cause a stroke, and a blocked artery in a lung can cause pain and cough with blood.
They include fever, weight loss, joint pain, Raynaud’s syndrome (the fingers and toes are cold and painful when exposed to mean), a low red blood cell count (anemia), a high number of white blood cells, and a low platelet count.
Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and paleness. A low level of platelets can cause problems with blood clotting.
The diagnosis of myxoma
Myxomas are suspect based on the person’s symptoms. Doctors can hear a sound (puff) produced by abnormal blood flow with a stethoscope.
Because many of the symptoms of myxoma can also be caused by many other disorders, extensive testing may be necessary before making a diagnosis.
Blood tests may show inflammation, anemia, and a low number of platelets. But none of these tests is conclusive.
The diagnosis is confirmed by echocardiography. Other procedures, including angiography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are sometimes necessary.