Pheochromocytoma is a rare catecholamines-secreting tumor arising from chromaffin cells in the adrenal medulla. It classically presents with paroxysmal hypertension, headaches, palpitations, sweating, and metabolic disorders. Atypical presentations such as acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, stroke, and transient erythrocytosis have been infrequently documented.
We describe the case of a 72-year-old man diagnosed with pheochromocytoma presenting with non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, heart failure, and transient erythrocytosis with nonobstructed coronary arteries. This was his second heart attack. The patient was previously diagnosed with myocardial infarction, and an immense mass was found on the left adrenal gland 3 years prior. Based on clinical and laboratory findings, a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma was confirmed. His coronary angiogram showed nonobstructed coronary arteries except for a myocardial bridge in the left anterior descending branch. This was a form of type-2 myocardial infarction. The myocardial cell lesions were caused by sudden secretion of catecholamines by the pheochromocytoma. Even more atypically, his hemoglobin level was obviously elevated at admission, but after a few days of treatment with an alpha-adrenergic receptor blocker, it dropped to normal levels without additional treatment.
Pheochromocytoma may be a cause of acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and transient erythrocytosis.