Transient ischaemic attack: a common initial manifestation of cardiac myxomas

Eur Neurol. 2001;45(3):165-70. doi: 10.1159/000052116.


Background and aims: Cardiac myxomas may present clinically with many different features. Since highly effective treatments exist, it is important that they are diagnosed quickly in order to avoid further complications. Our aim was to determine the influence of neurological presentation in diagnosis and prognosis of cardiac myxomas.

Methods: We have reviewed the clinical charts of 28 patients diagnosed with cardiac myxomas seen at our centre in the last 20 years.

Results: Mean age at diagnosis in patients with neurological events was 49.22 years and 60.84 years in those without neurological manifestations (p = 0.0325). Most frequent presentations were: cardiac manifestations (92.8%), general manifestations (71.4%) and embolic events (39.3%). Nine patients (32.1%) presented with cerebral embolism; 7 of whom presented with transient ischaemic attacks (TIA), which was the first manifestation in 6 of them; 3 of them later suffered complete cerebral infarction with sequelae. Echocardiography confirmed diagnosis in 26 out of 27 patients in which it was performed. None of the patients presented neurological symptoms after surgery.

Conclusion: The most frequent initial neurological manifestation in our series was TIA. Nevertheless, none of the patients were diagnosed after the first neurological symptom. Although the contribution of cardiac myxomas to the total amount of TIA is low, since surgery is highly effective and of low risk, and patients with neurological manifestations are younger, it is vital to consider the possibility of cardiac myxoma after a TIA of unknown origin.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Infarction / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Heart Neoplasms / complications*
  • Heart Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology*
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Myxoma / complications*
  • Myxoma / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies