Myocardial damage and rhabdomyolysis associated with prolonged hypoxic coma following opiate overdose

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1996;34(2):199-203. doi: 10.3109/15563659609013770.


We report a case of biopsy proven myocardial damage after opiate-induced rhabdomyolysis. Myocardial biopsy showed focal lesions formed by small mononuclear inflammatory cells with a few neutrophils, associated with degenerated and necrotic myocardial fibers, interstitial edema and congestion of intrinsic blood vessels. These findings were similar to those seen with other drug overdoses if combined with strenuous muscular effort or hypoxic coma. We hypothesize that myocardial damage is a consequence of intracapillary myohypoxia associated with prolonged hypoxic coma following opiate overdose.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Cardiomyopathies / chemically induced*
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Coma / chemically induced*
  • Drug Overdose
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heroin / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Narcotics / poisoning*
  • Necrosis
  • Rhabdomyolysis / chemically induced*
  • Rhabdomyolysis / pathology


  • Narcotics
  • Heroin