The cardiovascular manifestations of tetanus consist of disturbances of heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure instability, arrhythmias, myocardial dysfunction and sympathetic overactivity. It was suggested that either a sudden loss of catecholamine stimulation or myocardial damage caused by the direct action of the tetanus toxin, could be involved in cardiac dysfunction described in tetanus. However, histologic evidence of myocardial necrosis in tetanus was demonstrated in few cases. We report a fatal case of tetanus in which we investigated the cardiac morphology and the expression of TNFα to elucidate the heart involvement in this case. Since it is well known that myocardial damage caused by catecholamines can induce synthesis of cytokines by myocytes, cytokines, specifically those with known cardiodepressant properties such as TNF-α, could be an alternative mechanism involved in cardiac dysfunction in the setting of tetanus.
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