What're the symptoms of pheochromocytoma?The peak age of onset of pheochromocytoma is 40 years with no sex bias. The most common clinical finding is hypertension. Up to half of patients will have persistent or sustained high blood pressure, but more than 75% will experience paraxysmal episodes of hypertension characterized by palpitations, headache, sweating, angina (chest pain), and
tachcardiarrhythmias. These episodes can occur spontaneously or can be precipitated by strenuous activity, defecation, sexual intercourse, or unrelated surgery. Death from cerebrovascular attacks or myocardial infarction have been reported. Glucose intolerance is found in some patients with pheochromocytoma.
Most people (90%) with pheochromocytoma have hypertension, or high blood pressure. The other symptoms of the disease are extremely variable. The hypertension caused by pheochromocytoma may be sustained or paroxysmal and is often severe with occasional malignant features of encephalopathy, retinopathy, and proteinuria. Less commonly, severe hypertensive reactions may occur during incidental surgery, following trauma, exercise, or micturition (in the setting of bladder pheochromocytoma) when the diagnosis is unsuspected. Other clinical features of pheochromocytoma include headache, sweating, palpitation, tachycardia, and severe anxiety along with epigastric or chest pain. Orthostatic hypotension is frequently present and is probably due to reduced intravascular volume following chronic adrenergic stimulation.
The other symptoms of the disease are extremely variable. These symptoms usually occur in episodes (or attacks) called paroxysms and include headaches, excess sweating, racing heart, rapid breathing, anxiety/nervousness, nervous shaking, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, nausea, heat intolerance
The episodes can occur as often as 25 times a day or, as infrequently as once every few months. They can last a few minutes, several hours, or days. Usually, the attacks occur several times a week and last for about 15 minutes. After the episode is over, the person feels exhausted and fatigued.