People who are fond of the great outdoors during the brighter months (probably most of us!) are likely more than aware of the steps that should be taken should they be bitten by the infamous black-legged tick during their adventures. Two of these vital steps include taking a test and getting the right treatment to stop the disease from progressing any further. If these steps aren’t taken, it’s possible for the bacteria to infiltrate the nerves, joints, and sometimes even the heart tissue.
Often referred to as a ‘heart block’, Lyme carditis occurs when the bacteria which causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, migrates to the heart, interrupting your heartbeat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme carditis occurs in approximately one in every hundred Lyme disease cases reported to them .
See also: Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
What kind of heart problems does Lyme disease cause?
One of the most common heart problems associated with Lyme infection, according to Health Harvard Publishing, is a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system. This can cause an abnormality, referred to as an atrioventricular nodal block, or AV block. This can vary in degree and can change rapidly.
While the first signs of Lyme carditis can sometimes include flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches - similar to early Lyme disease, there are other, symptoms that are worth knowing more about, these include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to get in touch with your healthcare provider.
Is Lyme carditis curable?
Lyme-related heart disease is usually diagnosed with a blood test which tests for antibodies of Lyme disease and an electrocardiogram to identify AV block. Once diagnosed, the condition can usually be treated with oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics. While some patients may need a temporary pacemaker, according to the CDC, patients generally recover within 1-6 weeks with the correct treatment .
What organs are affected by Lyme disease?
If Lyme disease goes undetected, untreated, and progresses into the later stage, it’s possible for it to affect any organ of the body. The brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and of course the heart, can all be affected when the condition goes untreated.
Some of the most common issues associated with untreated Lyme disease include:
- Lyme disease-related arthritis
- Bell’s palsy
- Pain and weakness
- Visual disturbances
- Heart rhythm irregularities