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Case report
Heart failure enigma in young man: the acute onset of a frequently encountered condition with an unexpected cause
  1. George Luis Leonor Lopez1,
  2. Sandra Viviana Chaparro2,
  3. Nicholas Brozzi3 and
  4. Amit Badiye4
  1. 1Internal Medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida, USA
  2. 2Cardiology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA
  3. 3UMMG - Surgery - Transplant, University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, USA
  4. 4Department of Cardiology (Transplant & Heart Failure, Interventional), University of Miami Health System, Miami, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr George Luis Leonor Lopez;{at}


An 18-year-old male patient presented to the emergency department complaining of new onset chest pain, fever and orthopnoea. Initial workup was remarkable for elevated troponin, diffuse ST-segment elevation on ECG and chest X-ray with enlarged cardiac silhouette. Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) demonstrates severe biventricular concentric hypertrophy and pericardial effusion. Also, Coxsackie virus A and B titres were positive, concerning for a classic viral pericarditis. However, despite medical management, the patient became dyspnoeic and hypotensive. Impending cardiac tamponade was observed on repeat TTE, and pericardiocentesis was performed, complicated by pulseless electrical activity cardiac arrest, and ultimately patient requiring venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support. Emergent endomyocardial biopsy showed no inflammatory process, and a skin biopsy of a small lesion in the right arm showed unexpected diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus (+) natural killer/T-cell lymphoma. On initiation of chemotherapy, clinical improvement was observed as evidenced by improving ejection fraction, resolution of pericardial effusion and gradual decrease in myocardial hypertrophy.

  • cancer - see oncology
  • heart failure
  • oncology

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  • Contributors The case was proposed for publication by SVC, who served as mentor. The manuscript was written and developed by GLLL. Both NB and AB were directly involved in the care of the patient and provided guidance on the intricacy of the case form their respective areas of expertise (cardiothoracic/transplant surgery and advance heart failure-cardiology, respectively).

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.