An atrial myxoma is a non-cancerous form of a tumor that develops either in the right side of the heart or the upper left side of the heart. This heart tumor forms on the wall that separates the one side of the heart from the other. This wall is known as the atrial septum.
An atrial myxoma (or sometimes referred to simply as a myxoma) is a primary heart or cardiac tumor that got its start from inside of the heart. There are other forms of heart tumors but this is the only kind that develops from inside the heart. It is rare to develop a primary heart tumor however of the group of them, myxomas are the most widespread.
Approximately 75 percent of all atrial myxomas develop in the left atrium for reasons unknown. Generally the tumor starts in the wall that separates the two upper chambers the comprise the heart. Approximately 25 percent of myxomas develop in the right atrium. When atrial myxomas develop in the right atrium they are often linked to atrial fibrillation and/or tricuspid stenosis.
Atrial myxomas are more widespread in females than they are in males. Why this is the case is unclear to members of the medical community. It is estimated that ten percent of myxomas. When heart tumors are genetically linked they are referred to as familial myxomas. These types of cardiac tumors have a tendency to show themselves at an early age and to take place in more than one region of the heart.
The symptoms of an atrial myxoma can show up at any given time however they are most common when a person alters the position of their body, such as from lying down to standing up for example. The most common symptoms include shortness of breath when there is activity or exertion, problems breathing when an individual is lying flat, difficulty breathing when a person is asleep, dizziness or weakness, fainting, tightness in the chest or pain in the chest and heart flutters or heart palpitations. The signs and symptoms of left atrial myxomas are very much like those of mitral stenosis.
There are sometimes other general symptoms as well and these may include a cough, a fever, weight loss that is involuntary, fingers, pain in joints, a general feeling of discomfort or malaise, fingers that become a different color due to cold, stress or pressure being exerted on them, curvature of the nails that is also accompanied by clubbed fingers (or what is known as soft tissue enlargement), swelling that takes place in any region of the body, and a blue tinge to the skin, in particular the fingers which is often called Raynaud’s phenomenon. If you suffer from any of these general symptoms a doctor should be able to determine if you do indeed have an atrial myxoma as infective endocarditis also shows many of these symptoms as well.
Upon visiting a doctor he will listen to the heart carefully with his stethoscope in order to hear any abnormal sounds of the heart or any murmurs. Sometimes a doctor can hear what is referred to as a “tumor plop” which is a common sound that doctors are used to when a heart tumor is present.