The metabolic effects of chronic alcohol abuse can induce a broad spectrum of disorders. We describe the case of an initially unidentified alcoholic, poorly nourished woman who presented with ketoacidosis. She developed severe cardiac failure, which did not respond to classical treatment. The administration of intravenous thiamine resulted in an impressive recovery of cardiac function. Laboratory examinations confirmed the diagnosis of alcoholic ketoacidosis and cardiac beriberi. The clinical entity and treatment of these two uncommon disorders are discussed. If recognized early both diseases (and their combination) are fully reversible.
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