Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive type of cancer that occurs in the mesothelial cells and is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a natural mineral widely used for about a century before it was proven toxic. Due to its heat resistance, tensile strength and insulating properties, it was woven and mixed with cement to be used in industries like construction, shipbuilding and manufacturing. However, when in contact with other materials, asbestos release fibers into the air that are inhaled or swallowed and become trapped in the body.
As the body is unable to properly expel the asbestos fibers, they become housed in the mesothelial cells, which form the lining of several body cavities, a membrane called mesothelium. The fibers then irritate the cells, causing the formation of tumors. There are four different types of mesothelioma, depending on the original location of the tumors. Pleural mesothelioma refers to the lungs, peritoneal mesothelioma to the abdomen, pericardial mesothelioma to heart and testicular mesothelioma to the tunica vaginalis testis.
How Irregular Heartbeat Affects Patients with Mesothelioma
It can take decades between asbestos exposure and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms. While pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma account for about 95% of the cases, pericardial and testicular mesothelioma are particularly rare. In the case of pericardial mesothelioma, the symptoms are mainly cardiac and related to fluid buildup around the heart and thickening of the pericardial layers. Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia occurs in patients who suffer from late stage pericardial mesothelioma. The resemblance between these symptoms and the ones from heart conditions make it difficult for a rapid and accurate diagnosis.
Irregular heartbeat can be accompanied by heart palpitations, dyspnea, murmurs, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, fever or night sweats. Not only is it a symptom of the disease, but irregular heartbeat can also be a consequence of mesothelioma treatment.
Management of Irregular Heartbeat in Mesothelioma Patients
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms. In the specific case of irregular heartbeat, it is important that patients consult with their physician. The treatment plan can include medication, medical procedures and/or surgery. Medicines known as antiarrhythmics are designed to slow down the heart when it is beating too fast. Examples of medication include amiodarone, sotalol, flecainide, propafenone, dofetilide, ibutilide, quinidine, procainamide, and disopyramide. Beta blockers like metoprolol and atenolol, as well as calcium channel blockers like diltiazem and verapamil, can also have the same effect.
Some cases of irregular heartbeat can also be treated with a pacemaker, which is a small device inserted under the skin of the chest or abdomen to regulate the heart rhythm. Other medical procedures include cardioversion or defibrillation, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), catheter ablation and transesophageal echocardiography. Surgery to address irregular heartbeat consists of slightly cutting or burning the atria to prevent the spread of disorganized electrical signals.
Note: Mesothelioma Research News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.