Lyme carditis occurs when Lyme disease bacteria enter the tissues of the heart. This can interfere with the normal movement of electrical signals from the heart’s upper to lower chambers, a process that coordinates the beating of the heart. The result is something physicians call “heart block,” which can vary in degree and change rapidly. Lyme carditis occurs in approximately one out of every hundred Lyme disease cases reported to CDC.
What is Lyme Carditis?
Lyme carditis can cause light-headedness, fainting, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or chest pain. Patients with Lyme carditis usually have other symptoms such as fever and body aches, and they may have more specific symptoms of Lyme disease, such as the erythema migrans rash.
What are the symptoms?
Lyme carditis can either be treated with oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics, depending on severity (see tables below). Some patients might need a temporary pacemaker. Patients generally recover within 1-6 weeks.
How is it treated?
Yes. Between 1985 and 2019, eleven cases of fatal Lyme carditis were reported worldwide.
Can it be fatal?
Third Degree Heart Block
The heart on the left shows how an electrical signal flows from the atrioventricular node (AV node) to the chambers in the lower half of the heart, called the ventricles.
The heart on the right 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 (chambers at the top of the heart) does not transmit to the ventricles (chambers at the bottom of the heart), which causes the ventricles to beat at their own, slower rate.