December 16th, 2013

Three Cases of Sudden Cardiac Death Linked to Lyme Carditis

Three cases of sudden cardiac death associated with Lyme carditis were reported in 2012 and 2013 and are described in MMWR. Only four such deaths have previously been reported.

The three patients, aged 26 to 38, lived in states with a high incidence of Lyme disease. None had rash; two had pre-existing heart conditions. Postmortem investigation by state health departments and the CDC found Borrelia burgdorferi in heart tissue and evidence of Lyme carditis in all three patients.

“Physicians and health-care providers should ask patients with suspected Lyme disease about cardiac symptoms, and conversely, ask patients with acute, unexplained cardiac symptoms about possible tick exposure and symptoms of Lyme disease,” the authors recommend.

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