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Lyme Carditis: How Spirochetes Affect The Heart
In Lyme carditis, Borrelia burgdorferi directly affects the heart. Damage to the heart tissue occurs from the direct invasion by the bacteria, as well as from the bodys exaggerated immune response to the infection.
In 90% of cases, the most common consequence of Lyme carditis is heart block. Electrical signals from the upper chambers of the heart are not properly relayed to the lower chambers of the heart, which can dramatically slow down the heart rate.
The severity of the heart block can fluctuate rapidly and the progression to complete heart block can be fatal. Importantly, the heart block in Lyme carditis can be transient and usually resolves with antibiotic therapy. Additionally, Lyme carditis can affect other parts of the hearts conduction system, as well as the hearts muscle, valves, and outer layer of the heart wall.
When Should I Go See My Doctor
Anyone who has been bitten by a black-legged deer tick is at risk for Lyme disease. The highest risk groups include those living in or visiting endemic areas, especially people who spend significant time outdoors such as gardeners, hikers, or outdoor workers.
Patients should seek advice from their doctor if they have a suspicious round expanding red skin lesion, and/or show signs of summer-flu, particularly during Lyme disease season, which is highest-risk late spring through July/August. If those circumstances apply or symptoms persist it is very important to go to a physician.
For the west coast and other more temperate regions Lyme disease can be a year-round concern.
In the later disseminated stages, Lyme disease can be a much more insidious and complex illness. An individual should seek medical care if experiencing symptoms such as prolonged fevers, unexplained fatigue, painful joints, new or unusual headache, or heart or neurologic symptoms. If unexplained viral-like symptoms last for more than 1-2 weeks, please seek the advice of a physician.
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When Lyme Hurts Your Heart: Warning Signs + Solutions
Ryan Stewart, a speech-language pathologist in Virginia, developed a strange set of symptoms in 2009 that baffled one doctor after another. Included among those symptoms were a racing heartbeat following minimal physical exertion, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, she explains.
Over the next 10 years, Stewarts symptoms waxed and waned. Some days, they would let up other days, a sudden episode of rapid heartbeats or dizziness would frighten her sending her to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic.
Unfortunately, she always left those healthcare facilities without answers. Though Stewart believed her symptoms stemmed from her heart, repeated electrocardiograms , a cardiac MRI, and a couple week-long stints of wearing heart monitors all came back as normal. They could never catch a cardiac episode, she says.
Determined to live a normal life, Stewart continued her work as an SLP and began planning a family with her husband. After a series of fertility treatments, she became pregnant only to suffer a miscarriage in the early weeks a devastating loss, she says.
I knew this was a new symptom, and I had to go to the ER, says Stewart. They discovered I had ventricular tachycardia, and gave me a diagnosis of idiopathic ventricular tachycardia. Idiopathic meaning they didnt know what the cause was.
Confirming Lyme Disease In The Age Of Covid
The current COVID-19 pandemic is posing a new challenge in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. The two conditions have a lot of overlapping symptoms, such as fever, malaise, generalized pain and lack of energy. During these times, its advisable to rule out COVID-19 first before embarking on any other test.
Asking focused questions about personal lifestyle may help guiding the diagnosis of Lyme disease. Some key questions include:
- Any outdoor activities in areas already identified as having high prevalence of ticks?
- Any recollection of tick bites or removal of ticks from the body?
- Any skin rashes? ,
- Do you live in an endemic region for Lyme disease? If youre not sure, you can check public health websites. Knowing if one lives in an endemic region for Lyme disease is essential, as these recommendations should be encouraged in all emergency departments and family doctors offices in areas of high prevalence.
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Later Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
In early disseminated Lyme disease, which occurs weeks to months after the tick bite, other symptoms may develop, including:
- Additional erythema migrans lesions
- Nerve pain.
- Facial or Bell’s palsy, a paralysis or weakness in the muscles on one side of the face.
- Lyme carditis, in which Lyme disease bacteria enter the tissues of the heart and interfere with the normal process that coordinates the beating of the heart symptoms include palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
Late disseminated Lyme disease, which develops months to years after the infection begins, may cause:
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in large joints such as the knees
- Pain in the tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Abnormal muscle movement
- Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet
- Cognitive problems, including issues with speech and short-term memory
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness from meningitis
Duration Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can last a month or two or as long as months or years, depending on whether or not it is promptly or effectively treated.
When treated with antibiotics, most people recover from Lyme disease within a few weeks. If it isnt treated right way because symptoms werent present or it was misdiagnosed, the infection can affect different parts of the body and last one to four months.
Late persistent Lyme disease may develop without proper treatment. This phase can cause arthritis, fatigue, and numbness. Although it is rare, heart problems such as inflammation around the heart can occur months or years after the tick bite, notes Michigan Medicine.
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Lyme Disease And Its Connection To Thyroid/adrenal Problems
This informative article below has been written by thyroid/adrenal patient Dana. Read it VERY carefully, as it may have answers for you!
I, Dana, became interested in the link between Lyme Disease and Hypothyroidism after my own young son contracted Lyme Disease in the late summer of 2005. Below is my sons storya child who was healthy and did not exhibit any signs of Hypothyroidism until AFTER he contracted Lyme Disease.
A few weeks before school began in 2005, my youngest son became ill with what I thought was a virus. He had a fever, sore throat, headache, and a stiff neck. I checked the lymph nodes behind his neck and ears and found them enlarged. I basically treated his symptoms the rest of the weekend with Motrin, and kept a watchful eye on him.
The following Monday, I had him see our family practitioner, who ran tests for Strep and Mononucleosis. Because the tests were negative, a viral illness was diagnosed. She stated it would need to run its course, and if he wasnt better in a week, bring him back in.
Trusting the doctor, I took him home and continued to treat his symptoms. My sons sore neck and throat got better, but other symptoms persistedhis fever continued and his lymph nodes were still swollen. Additionally, his eyes were bloodshot and he had no appetite. A second trip to the Doctor found a low White Cell Count, and we were instructed to come back in a month to recheck it. She also reiterated that he is probably just fighting a virus.
Skin Examinations And Ecgs
Thorough dermatological examination can clarify difficult cases. This happened in my clinic recently, when a nurse practitioner decided to run a full skin examination and discovered typical bulls-eye rashes on the patients back.
Once the diagnosis is suspected, cardiovascular symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, fainting or near fainting, chest pain and shortness of breath should be investigated. If the patient reports any of these symptoms, along with any other factors suggesting Lyme disease, a 12-lead ECG should be performed.
Quite recently, a team from the United States did 12-lead ECG to a large series of pediatric patients presenting to the emergency department with high-suspicion of Lyme disease, and discovered that nearly 30 per cent of them had some conduction disturbance. Any evidence of electrical disturbance should prompt admission in hospital for a course of intravenous antibiotics while waiting the results of serological tests.
From the other perspective, any patient presenting with unexpected high-degree atrioventricular block , the way to test for Lyme carditis is by running a risk score called SILC , which was developed at Queens University and is now used worldwide.
SILC score is based on the risk factor acronym COSTAR , which may help in determining the likelihood of early Lyme carditis.
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Treating Hair Loss From Lyme Disease
Practicing holistic self-care such as getting enough sleep, managing any stress and following a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, is crucial for anyone with Lyme Disease. Ensuring your body receives the necessary nutritional support for healthy hair growth is important. If this cannot be achieved through diet alone, supplements such as Hair Vitalics may be beneficial.
Whilst hair loss from either of these conditions should regrow naturally, it could take six-to-twelve months so some people like to consider treatment to spur this on.
Treatment for Chronic Telogen Effluvium can be provided by a hair loss specialist who may work in tandem with clients medical supervisors during their illness, if required. Once a professional diagnosis has been established, it is important to understand and address the root cause of the hair loss condition in order to effectively promote regrowth.
Once this has been done, a bespoke treatment plan featuring a high strength minoxidil which has produced significant regrowth results for many Belgravia clients and hair growth boosters, can be tailored to clients specific needs. A dedicated Treatment Advisor will also be able to provide on-going hair loss advice and support, giving Lyme Disease patients one less thing to worry about.
Causes Of Heart Block
Some people are born with heart block known as congenital heart block.
But more commonly, heart block develops later in life. This is known as acquired heart block and can be caused by:
- other heart conditions, such as a heart attack
- some prescription medicines
- other conditions, such as Lyme disease
- having heart surgery
Babies are more likely to have congenital heart block if they’re born with a heart defect, or if their mother has an autoimmune condition, such as lupus.
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Olsen Sisters Thinning Hair
Radar Online has reported how the luxury fashion designer and former child TV star, Ashley Olsen looks to have thinning hair. The twin was pictured in a candid and slightly blurred paparazzi snap that purported to show the 28 year olds signature long blonde hair thinning as her parting appeared wider than normal compared to how she usually looks .
The article speculates how this may be linked to Olsens Lyme Disease given this illness is caused by an upset of the thyroid system following a tick bite, and thyroid issues are known to prompt temporary hair loss.
Whilst it is impossible to tell if Ashely Olsen has been affected from the photo in question, it is absolutely true that Lyme Disease and many other illnesses can trigger temporary hair loss conditions. In some cases, these temporary conditions can also spark or exacerbate any underlying genetic hair loss.
Complications Of Lyme Disease
Neurological complications can begin to develop in early disseminated Lyme disease. These complications may include:
- Vision disturbances
- Sleep and memory disorders
- Nerve damage in the legs and arms
Other non-neurological complications can also develop, such as severe arthritis, persistent fatigue, mood disturbances, and life-threatening disorders of the heart, lungs, and nervous system.
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Can Trigger Hair Loss Conditions
The first condition linked to Lyme Disease is known as Telogen Effluvium .
TE occurs when the hair growth cycle is disrupted and internal stressors in this case Lyme Disease but emotional stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and medication side effects can also be to blame prematurely force hair follicles into their resting phase. This causes hair to shed from all over the head up to three months later, leaving hair looking thinner and often more brittle than before.
Whilst Telogen Effluvium tends to last a maximum of six months, should the cause of the hair loss not be addressed which can be difficult when an on-going medical condition is responsible this could progress. Chronic Telogen Effluvium also causes diffuse thinning all over the scalp but tends to last for a minimum of six months.
As there is currently no cure for Lyme Disease, it is likely that the thinning Ashley Olsen is said to be experiencing could be due to Chronic Telogen Effluvium.
An Overview Of The Cardiovascular System
In a healthy person, the heart pumps blood like a well-oiled machine, which delivers critical nutrients and oxygen to every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, and it removes carbon dioxide and other waste products from those tissues. Blood flows in the same direction throughout the body arteries carry oxygenated blood away from your heart, and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.
The average heart is larger than the size of an adult fist, and its the hardest working muscle in the body, pumping approximately 115,000 times a day. Here are some important points to remember about the heart:
- It consists of four chambers, including two atria and two ventricles.
- There are two atria, known as the right and left atrium. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from a large vein called the vena cava the left atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the lungs.
- The ventricles job is to collect and expel blood that comes from the atria. The right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood into the vascular tree of the lungs where it receives oxygen. Then, the left ventricle pumps the oxygen-rich blood back to the tissues of the body.
- The upper wall of the right atrium houses a cluster of cells known as the sinoatrial node . The SA node is referred to as the hearts natural pacemaker, because it produces the electrical activity thats responsible for the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.
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Lyme Carditis And Erythema Migrans
Lyme disease and Lyme carditis are often misdiagnosed due to their rarity and variable presentation. Patients report seeking medical attention numerous times before the correct diagnosis is made. For localized Lyme disease , only 40% to 80% of patients develop EM. It is important to note that EM typically appears within 7 to 14 days after the tick bite, and should be differentiated from the initial erythematous or blistering allergic skin reaction at the site of the bite. For example, EM will continue to enlarge in the first few days after its appearance, whereas an insect bite reaction will decrease in size. Furthermore, the EM lesion does not always manifest as the typical annular lesion with a central clearing. It can also manifest as an erythematous lesion without a central clearing, or with multiple rings around it, or with a central violaceous area. Indeed, in an observational cohort study of 118 cases, central clearing was seen in only 9% of cases homogeneous lesions and central erythema were observed in 59% and 32% of patients, respectively. This can make recognition of EM, and by extension, diagnosis of Lyme disease, difficult. As such, the cutaneous manifestations of Lyme disease are sometimes misdiagnosed as more common dermatologic diseases.
Key Points For Healthcare Providers
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Antibiotic Treatment Of Lyme Carditis
Table 1. Mild
|100 mg, twice per day orally||N/A|
|500 mg, three times per day orally||N/A|
|500 mg, twice per day orally||N/A|
|4.4 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses||100 mg per dose|
|50 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 3 doses||500 mg per dose|
|30 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses||500 mg per dose||14-21||3|
Table 2. Severe *
|2 grams intravenously, once a day*||N/A|
|5075 mg/kg intravenously, once a day*||2 grams per day||1421||3 5 12|
*After resolution of symptoms and high-grade AV block, consider transitioning to oral antibiotics to complete treatment course .
Tissue sample from a patient who died of Lyme carditis. Image taken using Warthin-Starry stain at 158X.
The heart on the top shows how an electrical signal flows from the atrioventricular node to the chambers in the lower half of the heart, called the ventricles.
The heart on the bottom shows a case of third degree heart block. In this illustration, the electrical signal from the AV node to the ventricle is completely blocked. When this happens, the electrical signal of the atria does not transmit to the ventricles , which causes the ventricles to beat at their own, slower rate.