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Lyme Disease And High Blood Pressure


Prevention Of Lyme Disease

Dr. Ashton answers viewer health questions

There isnt a vaccine to protect against Lyme disease. The following precautions can help reduce your chances of getting a tick bite:

  • Avoid woody, brushy, and grassy areas, especially in May, June, and July.
  • Wear light-colored clothes so that you can spot a tick if it gets on you.
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and shoes that cover your whole foot .
  • Tuck your pant legs into socks or shoes, and tuck your shirts into your pants.
  • Wear a hat to protect your head.
  • Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and areas of uncovered skin.
  • If youre on a trail, walk in the center to avoid brush and grass.
  • Take off your clothes right away when you come in from the outdoors, and wash and dry them at high temperatures.
  • Carefully check your body and head for ticks after outdoor activities.

When Lyme Disease Enters The Picture

Like many other Lyme experts and patients, Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of Vital Plan, believes many more than one in 10 people with Lyme disease may have some degree of heart issues. The symptomatology can vary from person to person, and exist on a spectrum of mild to severe.

The likely bacterial and viral culprits causing cardiovascular symptoms include Borrelia , Bartonella, Mycoplasma, cytomegalovirus , and probably many others. These stealth microbes enter the body and spread throughout the tissues by various mechanisms. They have one goal: Survival, notes Dr. Rawls. And they migrate or set up camp anywhere they can in the body, including the heart.

Theres a growing body of evidence showing that we have microbes throughout our body and brain, including on heart valves, says Dr. Rawls. Often, I think these microbes are present without causing harm. They stay dormant in tissues until a disruption in the immune system occurs and depresses it, allowing the microbes to flourish.

When stealth pathogens thrive, they can alter the electrical signaling to the heart, affecting the heartbeat or causing irritation to the heart itself.

Additionally, an abnormal heart rate isnt the only way microbes can affect the heart. As the pathogens disseminate throughout the organ and further irritate the heart muscle, the heart can become oxygen-deprived, leading to angina , heart attack, shortness of breath, and more.

Symptoms Of Late Stage Lyme Disease

The CDC reports that late stage Lyme disease may appear days to months after the initial tick bite and may include but are not limited to:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes in new places on the body
  • Facial palsy, also known as Bells palsy paralysis of one side of the face
  • Arthritis or joint pain and swelling, especially of large joints
  • Intermittent tendon, muscle, joint, nerve, or bone pain
  • Heart palpitations or arrhythmia
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

As mentioned above, late stage Lyme may also be characterized by the recurrence of early stage symptoms, such as fatigue.

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What Can I Expect If I Have A Tick Bite

If youre bitten by a tick, you may have absolutely no problems. If you have any concerns, contact your healthcare provider anyway.

In some cases, providers may decide to begin treatment even before a disease has been diagnosed. This is true if your provider suspects Lyme disease. The percentage of ticks that can infect you with Lyme disease can be as high as 50% in some areas.

Generally, you wont need antibiotics to treat most tick bites.

Related Conditions And Causes Of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease High Blood Pressure

Although Lyme disease is by far the most common tick-borne disease in the United States, there are others.

Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are caused by tick bites and can affect people of any age. Symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, weakness, and headache. Tetracycline antibiotics usually cure the diseases quickly.

Spotted fever rickettsioses are a group of diseases spread by infected ticks and mites. The illnesses these infections can cause can range from mild to life-threatening, and symptoms include fever, headache, and rash. The antibioticdoxycycline is usually used to treat spotted fever infections.

Babesiosis is a rare disease caused by the bite of a tick infected with Babesia microti, a tiny parasite that infects red blood cells. Many people who get this infection dont have any symptoms, while others have flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and body aches. A blood test can be done to confirm the infection. If babesiosis requires treatment , antibiotics are used. Its possible to be infected with Lyme disease and babesiosis at the same time.

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The Chronic Lyme Controversy

Lyme disease, first identified in the United States in the 1970s, has grown into a health epidemic as the ticks that transmit it to humans expand their range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that about 300,000 people in the U.S. become newly infected every year now. The symptoms can be debilitating, including neurological symptoms, extreme fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

When symptoms linger long after a diagnosed patient receives the standard antibiotic treatment, like the nurse in Maryland experienced, the patient may have a condition called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, a subset of chronic Lyme disease. Many experts in the field estimate about 10% to 20% of patients diagnosed with Lyme disease get this syndrome.

The controversy around chronic Lyme disease emerged when patient advocacy groups and some doctors began to use the term to describe patients who had nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue and pain, and testing did not always show that they had been exposed to Lyme disease.

At the heart of the controversy is the question: Can a person have a chronic bacterial infection that may not show up on tests?

These patients are frustrated with a medical establishment whose focus is on evidence-based treatment in a field where evidence is often lacking. Without a diagnosis by the establishment, these sick patients are often dismissed and cant get treated, leading to a sometimes toxic environment as they fight for treatment.

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How Is A Tick Bite Diagnosed

Ticks like wooded areas and high grasses. Paying attention if you walk in these types of areas will help you be aware of the possibility of tick bites. They like leaves. If you hike trails, try to stay in the center away from fallen leaves and brush.

Sometimes you might be able to find and keep the tick that has bitten you. Ticks arent like other insects that bite you many times. They usually bite once and then burrow into your skin. If this happens and youre able to find and remove the tick, you or your healthcare provider can identify the type of tick. You want to know if its the kind of tick that spreads disease.

Your provider will ask you questions about your medical history and about your time spent in tick-infested areas. In some cases, you may need blood tests.

Other Digestive Issues That May Be Associated With Lyme Disease

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Other digestive signs that give clues there may be an underlying infection like Lyme disease are candida and parasite infections that are difficult to treat. Infection with Borrelia causes immune dysfunction, making it challenging to treat yeast or parasitic infections until Lyme is successfully treated.

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Alternative And Complementary Therapies

There are no proven treatments for Lyme disease other than antibiotics. There are alternative or complementary treatments that are marketed to people with Lyme disease, but there isnt scientific evidence to prove they work or are even safe to use.

Bismacine, also known as chromacine, is an alternative medicine that some people try for Lyme disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against using this injectable product, which has reportedly caused hospitalization and at least one death.

If youre considering an alternative or complementary treatment for Lyme disease, its important to talk with your doctor first.

When Lyme Disease Mimics A Heart Attack

Lyme disease has earned a reputation as the great imitator, because its symptoms can mimic many other illnesses. In a case report, presented by Gilson and colleagues from Easton Hospital in Pennsylvania, a 45-year-old woman was believed to be suffering from a heart attack when, in fact, her symptoms were due to Lyme disease.

According to the authors, Lyme disease mimicked a myocardial infarction in a 45-year-old woman who presented with a sudden onset of chest pain, radiating to her neck. The evidence supporting a diagnosis of myocardial infarction was strong. A medical workup showed the woman had EKG changes, high admission levels of Troponin and CK-MB, and rising Troponin and CK-MB at 6 hours. Fortunately, the womans cardiac catheterization did not show any significant obstructive coronary artery disease.

She was diagnosed with Lyme disease 2 days later after she had developed a right-sided facial palsy. The diagnosis was confirmed by ELISA and positive IgM and IgG antibodies.

Treatment was successful with a combination of intravenous ceftriaxone and oral steroids.

This is a rare case of Lyme myocarditis associated with markedly elevated Troponin I, normal left ventricle function, and an absence of conduction abnormalities, writes Gilson.

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Arkansas. RMSF is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. This bacterium is carried mostly by the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, but also by the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Not all ticks are infected. It takes an infected tick four to six hours to spread disease after attaching to the host. Adult ticks look for large hosts such as dogs, but they also feed on humans. Ticks are often found in overgrown lots and along weedy roadsides, paths and hiking trails. Most RMSF cases occur between June and August when tick populations and outdoor activities are highest. Half of all people with RMSF do not remember being bitten by a tick.

  • RMSF Symptoms and Treatment
  • Symptoms of RMSF generally appear suddenly, about one week after an infected tick bite. However, there may be symptoms any time between 2 and 14 days after a bite.
  • Symptoms can include:
  • Non-itchy, pink rash usually starting on the wrists, forearms and ankles

It is important to get medical care as soon as possible if you think you have RMSF. Blood tests are required to diagnose RMSF, but treatment should begin as soon as symptoms and/or recent tick exposure suggest RMSF.

Research And Statistics: Who Can Get Lyme Disease

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Anyone can get a tick bite. People who spend time outdoors such as campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and other leafy outdoor venues are at the highest risk.

Between 2004 and 2016, the number of disease cases from ticks doubled. In 2018, there were 33,666 reported cases of Lyme disease, down from 42,743 cases in 2017.

The states with the highest reported number of tick related diseases were Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, and New Hampshire.

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Causes And Risk Factors Of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii. Humans can get Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick.

Usually, the deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease.

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and some ticks carry other diseases.

A persons chances of getting bitten by a tick and getting Lyme disease can depend on where they live or travel or what they do for a living. Common risk factors for contracting Lyme disease include the following:

  • Spending a lot of time in wooded or grassy areas, especially in the Northeast and Midwest United States
  • Exposed skin, which can make it easier for ticks to attach or bite you
  • Removing ticks incorrectly or removing them 36 hours or more after theyve attached to your skin, which allows the bacteria from the bite to enter your skin

Early Disseminated Lyme Disease

If left untreated, the infection can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic vessels within weeks to months where it may affect the joints, nervous system, heart, or other organs. Symptoms of early disseminated Lyme disease include:

  • Multiple bull’s eye rashes on various parts of the body.
  • Weakness or paralysis in the muscles of the face
  • Stiff and painful neck, which may be a sign of Lyme meningitis
  • Heart problems symptoms include light-headedness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, or fainting

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How Is Lyme Disease Treated

With early-stage Lyme disease, youâll take antibiotics for about 10 days to 3 weeks. The most common ones are amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and doxycycline. The antibiotics will almost always cure your infection. If they donât, you might get other antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot.

If you donât treat your Lyme infection, you might need oral antibiotics for symptoms like weakened face muscles and irregular heartbeat. You may need antibiotics if you have meningitis, inflammation in your brain and spinal cord, or more severe heart problems.

If your Lyme is late stage, the doctor might give you antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot. If it causes arthritis, youâll get arthritis treatment.

Thereâs no therapy for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Lyme Disease

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Home » Tick Talk » What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease?

Despite some skepticism in the medical community, chronic Lyme disease is a growing epidemic in the U.S. This stems partly from the shortcomings of many of the officially recommended Lyme disease tests, which leave too many patients with untreated infections that then become persistent and debilitating.

The following article will cover what you should know about chronic Lyme and provide an introductory but non-exhaustive chronic Lyme disease symptoms checklist.

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Lyme Disease And High Blood Pressure

During the days and weeks after a tick bite, concerns about Lyme disease often grow. Is low blood pressure a symptom of Lyme disease? Can Lyme disease affect your heart?

These are common concerns and, actually, they are well-founded. Several weeks into the disease, Lyme disease can affect the nervous system, even causing Bells palsy, and can get into the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain, causing meningitis. While there is not a specific connection between Lyme disease and low blood pressure or Lyme disease and high blood pressure, Lyme disease can affect the heart. The most common problem is a very slow heartbeat that leads to fatigue, dizziness and possibly fainting. The heart muscle can also become inflamed, which is a condition called myocarditis.

In the later stages of Lyme disease, pain and swelling of joints may develop. This type of arthritis commonly affects one knee or episodes of swelling in several joints, called migratory arthritis. The symptoms can become persistent.

What If A Tick Bites My Dog

The more ticks in your region, the likelier it is that your furry pal will bring them home.

Your dog is much more likely to be bitten by a tick than you are. And where Lyme disease is common, up to 25% of dogs have had it at some point.

About 10% of dogs with Lyme disease will get sick. 7-21 days after a tick bite, your dog might seem like theyâre walking on eggshells. They also might have a fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Plus, they might seem tired. Dogs also get antibiotics for Lyme.

What if my dog brings ticks into my home?

Use a tick control product on your pet to prevent Lyme disease. Also, have your dog vaccinated against Lyme.

Check your dogâs whole body each day for bumps. If you notice a swollen area, see if thereâs a tick there. If you find a tick, wear gloves while you use tweezers to separate it from your dog. Then, put it in soapy water or alcohol, or flush it down the toilet.

Use alcohol to clean the spot on your dog where the tick was attached. Keep an eye on that spot, and also on your dog to make sure theyâre behaving normally. If you notice any changes, check with your vet.

Show Sources

John Aucott, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: âVital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases United States and Territories, 2004-2016.â

American College of Rheumatology.

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