Propranolol, a beta-adrenergic blocking agent commonly used in the treatment of hypertension, decreases mesenteric blood flow during exercise, at rest, and in cirrhosis. Widespread idiopathic myointimal hyperplasia of mesenteric veins produces intestinal ischemia in otherwise healthy individuals. This report describes a 42-year-old woman who died suddenly and unexpectedly while attending a ball game. She had hypertension treated with propranolol and no other clinically apparent disorders. Autopsy revealed mild mesenteric venous myointimal hyperplasia and segmental jejunal infarction. Recent clinical and experimental studies are used to propose possible mechanisms for this death which combine the effects of propranolol and mesenteric venous myointimal hyperplasia.
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