Studying a Rare and Unusual Cause of Heart Failure

December 18, 2010
School of Medicine, Kochi

Can the deficiency of vitamin B1 lead to heart failure?

Dr.Priya“Yes,” stated Dr. Priya Nair, postgraduate scholar at the Amrita School of Medicine.

“Vitamin B1 plays a multitude of roles for the normal functioning of our body. The deficiency of this vitamin can manifest in many different ways, including cardiac failure.”

Dr. Priya’s recent paper on this topic, titled I Cannot! I Cannot – A rare and unusual cause of heart failure won the best paper award at the Conference of the Kerala Chapter of Association of Physicians of India. The conference was conducted at IMA House, Kochi.

Dr. Priya’s paper was selected from among nine presentations that competed for the award.

The paper focused on the case of a 21-year-old male patient who was presented to the Department of General Medicine at Amrita with cardiac manifestation of beriberi. Beriberi is caused by the deficiency of Vitamin B1.

Although a nervous system ailment, other symptoms of beriberi include severe lethargy and fatigue, together with complications affecting the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, and gastrointestinal systems.

The word beriberi is said to come from a Sinhalese phrase meaning “I cannot, I cannot”; hence the title of Dr. Priya’s paper.

“The patient had acute, high-output cardiac failure,” explained Dr. Priya. “The disease was contracted due to intolerance to anti-tuberculosis treatment and a Roux-en-y gastrojejunostomy for duodenal ulcers.”

Throwing light on the causes of beriberi, diagnostic tips and current treatment strategies in her paper, Dr. Priya elaborated further.

Heart Failure“The definitive diagnosis of beriberi requires expensive and complicated tests, which are not currently performed in India.”

“These tests are difficult to perform in many of our patients who are from poor socio-economic backgrounds. However, there are many other cost-effective methods of diagnosis of beriberi, which can save time.”

“We should examine for beriberi in all cases of cardiac failure without any structural or electrophysiological cardiac pathology.”

Currently, pursuing her post-graduation in Internal Medicine, Dr. Priya acknowledged the guidance and support received from her professors at the Department of General Medicine, including Dr. Ganapathi Rao, Dr. Rema Pai, Dr. L. Sasikala, Dr. Jyothi Srikanth and Dr. Saishav Dhage.

We congratulate Dr. Priya Nair on her achievement and wish her the very best.

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