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What's UP Doc? Acute porphyrias and heart health

  • Apr 29, 2022
  • Acute Porphyrias, What's UP Doc
  • Dr. Herbert Bonkovsky, Dr. Karl Anderson


What's UP Doc? Is a monthly column where we feature a patient question along with a response from a member of the UPA Scientific Advisory Board.

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Can having tachycardia (fast, irregular heartbeat) due to acute hepatic porphyria cause long term health issues? If you have tachycardia from AHP, are there things you can do to protect your heart?

This week, Dr. Karl Anderson and Dr. Herbert Bonkovsky, both of the UPA Scientific Advisory Board and Porphyrias Consortium collaborated to answer this question.

Tachycardia refers only to a heart rate that is faster than normal. For example, it may accompany fever or dehydration, and is common during acute attacks of porphyria. Arrhythmia is the term reserved for a condition in which the heart rhythm is abnormal, either irregular or regular, most often due to a heart condition.

Most patients with AHPs experience tachycardia only during acute attacks, and it improves as the attack resolves. Arrhythmias are less common and may need further evaluation. If such attacks are treated promptly and with success, the long-term risk to the heart and cardiovascular system is slight or nil.

Most patients with recurrent or chronic tachycardia or arrhythmias do not suffer from AHP. Patients with AHPs and such problems are best evaluated and managed by a physician with expertise in the porphyrias and a cardiologist.

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