Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Medical researchers report four deaths due to Lyme carditis

Written by
Roberto LoBianco
For the Poughkeepsie Journal

Four deaths have been reported in medical journals from a heart condition associated with Lyme disease called Lyme carditis. The condition is being investigated in the death of a 17-year-old Poughkeepsie High School honor student who died Aug. 5; evidence of Lyme disease was found in his blood, organs and heart.
The cases, drawn from references provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:
• A 37-year old man who died in 2008 the day after visiting a doctor. The man reported a month-long series of fevers, rash and other symptoms. According to a report published in the journal Cardiovascular Pathology, he had an irregular heartbeat and tested positive for Lyme disease the day before he died. An autopsy found that he also suffered from heart inflammation.
• A patient who died from cardiac arrest caused by Lyme myocarditis or heart inflammation. The patient, described in a 1993 report in the Journal of Neurology, was among patients with Lyme myositis, or muscle inflammation, between the ages of 37 and 70. They came down with symptoms, including muscle pain, tenderness, swelling and weakness.
• A 31 year-old male farm worker in Great Britain — the only geographical reference in the four articles — who tested positive for Lyme disease on his first screening. An autopsy found the man suffered from an enlarged heart and an irregular heart beat; he had no telltale Lyme disease rash before becoming ill, according to a 1990 article in the Postgraduate Medical Journal. The article recommended that doctors "be especially vigilant with young patients from rural areas presenting with heart block," a disturbance of the heart's rhythm.
• A 66-year old man who died of "cardiac involvement of Lyme disease." According to a 1985 report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, he died 18 hours after being taken to the hospital with chills, muscle pain and other symptoms. Lyme spirochetes were found in the victim's heart tissue and an autopsy found that he had an inflamed heart.
Carditis occurs in 4 to 10 percent of cases of Lyme disease and usually begins three to six weeks after the initial illness, according a 2012 report published in the journal Clinical Medicine and Diagnostics.
In a statement, the CDC said it "recommends treatment, regardless of serologic [blood] test results, for patients suspected of having early stages of Lyme disease. This would include patients suspected of having Lyme carditis."
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