Myocardial disarray: an architectural disorganization linked with adrenergic stress?

Int J Cardiol. 2005 Mar 18;99(2):277-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2004.01.022.


Background: Myocardial disarray is a structural abnormality found in specific zones of the normal heart. In some conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), its occurrence represents a pathological process leading to myocardial asynergy. The incidence of "pathological" myocardial disarray in humans is still not known. It has been suggested that a link exists between adrenergic overactivity and myocardial disarray. The aim of the present study is to compare heart findings in conditions with and without chronic sympathetic overtone for evidence of possible linkage in humans.

Materials and methods: A total of 340 hearts were studied. They were divided into seven groups: sudden/unexpected coronary death; sudden/unexpected death in silent Chagas' disease; brain haemorrhage following berry aneurysm rupture; transplanted hearts; congestive heart failure, AIDS and cocaine abuse. Findings in these hearts were compared with anatomic changes in 92 control hearts, where the decedent had died from head trauma, electrocution, or carbon monoxide intoxication. The frequency and presence of myocardial disarray were recorded and correlated to heart weight, extent of myocardial fibrosis, and contraction band necrosis (CBN).

Results: Hearts from patients with conditions that increased sympathetic tone showed an association of myocardial disarray and contraction band necrosis without any relationship to heart weight.

Conclusions: Myocardial disarray was observed in cardiac areas where it is not found normally. It was associated with adrenergic myocardial stress morphologically expressed by a higher number of foci (p<0.01) and myocells (p<0.001) with CBN versus findings in normal subjects. The condition deserves further study as a possible myocardial asynergic and arrhythmogenic factor especially in sudden/unexpected death.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocortical Hyperfunction / complications*
  • Adrenocortical Hyperfunction / pathology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / pathology
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / ultrastructure*
  • Myofibrils / ultrastructure
  • Necrosis / pathology
  • Stress, Physiological*