The effects of metabolic diseases on the cardiovascular system

Am J Cardiovasc Pathol. 1987;1(2):189-213.


Many metabolic diseases result in pathological changes within the cardiovascular system, often with the most severe effects on the function of the heart and great vessels. Metabolic disorders affecting the heart include disorders of amino acid metabolism, storage diseases, neuromuscular diseases, diseases of metal and pigment metabolism, carnitine deficiency, and connective tissue disorders. Several inborn errors of metabolism may involve the myocardium due to the accumulation of abnormal metabolites in the myocardial cells. In addition, the heart valves and coronary vessels may be involved. If the predominant effect is in the myocardial cell, it will be manifested clinically as a cardiomyopathy. Some disorders, in particular oxalosis, may involve the conduction system as a result of the deposition of oxalate crystals and result in conduction disturbances such as in alkaptonuria, primary oxalosis, and homocystinuria. Myocardial involvement may result in cardiomyopathy of the three functional types: (1) congestive, as in Fabry's disease, (2) hypertrophic, as in glycogen storage disease, type II, or (3) restrictive, as in Gaucher's disease. In the storage disease severe valvular as well as myocardial involvement occur predominantly in the glycogen storage diseases, types II-IV, mucolipidoses, sphingolipidoses, and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. There are a variety of neuromuscular disorders that may be associated with cardiomyopathy, including the muscular dystrophies, Friedreich's ataxia, and Kugelberg-Welander syndrome. The pathological features of these conditions are not specific, but result usually in a congestive form of cardiomyopathy. Patients with metal and pigment metabolic disorders include iron storage disease, either hemochromatosis or transfusional hemosiderosis, Menkes' kinky hair syndrome, and Dubin-Johnson syndrome. Either a restrictive or a congestive form of cardiomyopathy may occur. The systemic form of carnitine deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder and may present as a cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure and lipid accumulation in the myocardial cells. Connective tissue disorders are generalized diseases that may involve the heart and valvular tissue, but also the blood vessels. These include Marfan's syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and pseudo-xanthoma elasticum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology
  • Cardiovascular System / pathology*
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / pathology
  • Glycogen Storage Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / pathology