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Evaluation of right and left ventricular function in hard metal workers.
  1. S F Horowitz,
  2. A Fischbein,
  3. D Matza,
  4. J N Rizzo,
  5. A Stern,
  6. J Machac,
  7. S J Solomon
  1. Division of Cardiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.


    Ingested cobalt has previously been associated with the development of a congestive cardiomyopathy. Despite occasional reports of cardiomyopathy after industrial exposure to cobalt, this association remains controversial. In a study of 30 cemented tungsten carbide workers with a mean duration of exposure to cobalt of 9.9 +/- 5.3 years radionuclide ventriculography was performed to study right and left ventricular ejection fractions at rest and exercise. For the entire group, rest and exercise biventricular function was normal. There was, however, a weak but significant inverse correlation between duration of exposure and resting left ventricular function (r = -0.40, p less than 0.03). Workers with abnormal chest x ray findings (9/30) had relatively lower exercise right ventricular ejection fractions (45% +/- 6 v 52% +/- 7, p less than 0.02). An inverse relation was also found between rest and exercise right ventricular ejection fraction and severity of parenchymal abnormalities on x ray examination (r = -0.44, p less than 0.01 and r = -0.41, p less than 0.02). Diminished right ventricular reserve was probably due to fibrotic lung disease and early cor pulmonale. Although overt left ventricular dysfunction was not present, prolonged exposure to industrial cobalt may be a weak cardiomyopathic agent with unknown long term significance.

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