Hiatal hernia (HH) is a condition which refers to the protrusion of an intraabdominal organ in the thorax cavity throughan oesophageal hiatus of the diaphragm. Sliding HH is usually associated with non-specific symptoms, including heartburn, regurgitation or epigastric pain. Importantly, true paraesophageal hernia may lead to cardiac compression. Knowledge of cardiac manifestations of HH is limited.

The main aim of the study is to present the rare case of a patient with gastrothorax due to hiatal hernia which caused cardiac arrest, and to provide a literature-based review of the cardiac aspects of hiatal hernia.

Brief description of the state of knowledge:
Patients with paraesophageal hernia may experience arrhythmia, including sinus tachycardia, atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, supraventricular extrasystole and ventricular tachycardia, as well as left bundle branch block, atrioventricular conduction block and electrocardiographic changes in the ST-segment and T-wave. In echocardiograph, HH may appear as an extracardiac posterior mass encroaching on the left atrial cavity, mimicking the left atrial mass. Rarel, HH may be manifested as tension gastrothorax leading cardiac arrest. In such a case, timely diagnosis and instant adequate treatment of the underlying condition are crucial.

Hiatal hernia should be considered as a possible cause of arrhythmia and changes in ST-T pattern, particularly if symptoms occurred after a meal. Differential diagnosis of the posterior mediastinal mass or intracardiac mass should include hiatal hernia. Gastrothorax is a rare condition associated with hiatal hernia which may lead to cardiac arrest. However, even timely recognition and therapy of gastrothorax does not ensure a positive clinical outcome.

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