A Myxoma is a noncancerous primary heart tumor, usually irregular in shape and jellylike in consistency.
An Atrial Myxoma is a noncancerous tumor in the upper left or right side of the heart. It most often grows on the wall that separates the two sides of the heart. This wall is called the atrial septum. Atrial myxomas are heart tumors that are usually found in the left atrium.
Causes of Atrial Myxoma:
Atrial myxoma is a primary heart tumor where the tumor started within the heart; most heart tumors start somewhere else before spreading to the heart by the bloodstream or by direct invasion.
Primary cardiac tumors are rare and myxomas are the most common type of these rare tumors. Majority of myxomas occur in the left atrium of the heart, usually beginning in the wall that divides the two upper chambers of the heart. The rest are in the right atrium. Right atrial myxomas are sometimes associated with aneurysms.
Atrial Myxomas are more common in women. About 1 in 10 myxomas are passed down through families (inherited). These tumors are called familial Myxomas. They tend to occur in more than one part of the heart at a time, and often cause symptoms at a younger age.
Symptoms of Atrial Myxoma:
Symptoms may occur at any time but usually occurs when there is a change in body position. They include breathing difficulty when lying flat or when asleep, chest pain or tightness, dizziness, fainting, palpitations and shortness of breath with activity.
Other general symptoms include blueness of skin (especially the fingers), curvature of nails accompanied with soft tissue enlargement (clubbing) of the fingers, fever, fingers that change color upon pressure or with cold or stress, general discomfort (malaise), involuntary weight loss, joint pain and swelling in any part of the body. Symptoms may occur at any time, but most often they go along with a change in body position.
Symptoms of a myxoma may include:
- Chest pain, Dizziness, Fainting
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Breathing difficulty when asleep
- Breathing difficulty when lying flat
- Sensation of feeling your heart beat
The symptoms and signs of left atrial myxomas often mimic mitral stenosis. Right atrial myxomas rarely produce symptoms until they have grown to be at least 5 inches wide. Other symptoms may include:
- Cough, Fever, Joint pain
- Weight loss without trying
- Swelling in any part of the body
- Blueness of skin, especially on the fingers
- Fingers that change color upon pressure or with cold or stress
- Curvature of nails accompanied by soft tissue swelling of the fingers
Diagnosis of Atrial myxoma:
The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and listen to your heart through a stethoscope. Abnormal heart sounds or a murmur may be heard. These sounds may change when you change body position. Imaging tests may include:
- Doppler study, ECG, Echocardiogram
- Chest x-ray, Chest CT Scan, Heart MRI
- Left heart angiography, Right heart angiography
Best Treatment Options for Atrial Myxomas:
Treatments although atrial myxomas are not cancerous, complications are common. If untreated, it can lead to an embolism. This can block blood flow or cause the myxoma to grow in another part of the body. Myxoma fragments can move to the brain, eye, or limbs. If the tumor grows inside the heart, it can block blood flow through the mitral valve and cause symptoms of mitral stenosis. This may require emergency surgery to prevent sudden death.
The tumor must be surgically removed and some patients may need their mitral valve replaced as well. Surgery is needed to remove the tumor. Some people will also need the mitral valve replaced. This can be done during the same surgery.
Seek counsel from our leading Heart Doctors in Houston if you suspect you are suffering from Atrial Myxomas for the best treatment options for you.
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