Acute reversible pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure from cocaine toxicity

Case contributed by Dr Jayanth Keshavamurthy


Acute chest pain today in the setting of using cocaine overnight. She presented to the ED with hypotension and ST elevation.

Patient Data

Age: 40
Gender: Female

Acute ST wave elevation in anterior leads from cocaine induced vasospasm.

The heart is normal in size. There is no pericardial effusion. There is straightening of the intraventricular septum, increase in RV / LV ratio, and severe reflux of contrast material into the infra-diaphragmatic hepatic veins as well as IVC. No central or segmental pulmonary embolism is present. There is no thoracic aortic aneurysm or dissection.

PROCEDURES PERFORMED: Right and Left Heart Cath w / Coronary Angiography and LV Gram

Preserved LV systolic function
Nonobstructive epicardial coronaries
Elevated right heart filling pressures
Significant step up in oxygen saturation between RA and PA.
Decreased cardiac output/index

Left Heart Assessment
Left Ventricular End Diastolic Pressure 20 mmHg
Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction: 60%
LV Wall Motion: Normal
Right Heart Assessment
Fick CO: 1.86 Fick CI: 1.12
PCW: 23/20 16
PA: 23/14 17
RV: 24/14 17
RA: 22/30 18
PVR: 36 SVR: 1764

Coronary Angiography:




Findings on echocardiogram.

There is mild to moderate concentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Left ventricular systolic function is moderately reduced. LVEF is 30-35%.There is global hypokinesis.

There is flattening of the interventricular septum, consistent with RV overload. The right ventricular size is moderately to severely dilated. The right ventricular function is severely reduced.

Injection of agitated saline contrast documented no interatrial or intrapulmonary shunt. The right atrium is moderately dilated. There is mild to moderate tricuspid regurgitation. There is a small posterior pericardial effusion.

Case Discussion

Adult female who started having chest pain in the setting of using cocaine overnight. No significant past medical history. She presented to the ED with hypotension and ST elevation. Peak troponin level was 45.

STEMI code was called and the patient went to the cath lab, which showed non-obstructive coronaries. Right heart catheterisation did show a severely elevated PAP.

Transthoracic echocardiogram showed a dilated and severely depressed right ventricle. Patient after left heart catheterisation was still hypotensive and was placed on levophed for hypotension.

Concern was made for possible PE vs shunt given right atrial oxygen saturation was mid-to-high 20s and pulmonary artery saturation was mid-30s.

CTPA was obtained, which was negative for PE. Bubble study was obtained with TTE, which was negative for a shunt.

The patient remained on pressors. A right radial arterial line was placed and RIJ TLC was placed. She was transferred to a cardiac center for possible RVAD or transplant.

The Patient improved with treatment and was discharged one week later from there without RVAD, ECMO or cardiac transplant.

See reference 1 below, this is a similar case.

PlayAdd to Share

Case information

rID: 49394
Case created: 22nd Nov 2016
Last edited: 11th Jun 2017
Systems: Cardiac, Chest
Inclusion in quiz mode: Excluded

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.