Lyme disease can have serious health implications, including cardiac dangers if not treated quickly. Although the infection begins with the bite of a tick and the manifestation of a bulls-eye rash, International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society reports that many people who are infected do not recall having the rash anywhere on their bodies. Unfortunately, it is this oversight that causes some to seek treatment further into the illnesses' progression, or when they are very symptomatic.
What is Lyme Disease?
Although Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected deer tick, the cause of lyme disease is a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium forms an infection inside of the human body that can affect the joints, nervous system and heart. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the treatment for Lyme disease is several weeks of antibiotics.
Irregular heartbeat is another symptom of Lyme disease. At times the heart rate can slow to such a point, that fainting and dizziness can occur. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, an irregular heartbeat can be a symptom that arises soon after infection; although, it can occur in the later stages of Lyme disease, as well.
Injury to the heart is also a dangerous reality for someone who is infected with the Lyme virus. The Kansas Medical Clinic explains that Lyme patients are susceptible to myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle. In some cases, there is also a risk of developing pericarditis; inflammation of the surrounding heart membrane.
Despite all of the negative health affects, there is some good news for Lyme patients. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Lyme disease can cause heart blockages that are reversible. Temporary pacing is often used in conjunction with antibiotics to help clear the blockage. Once the blockage is resolved, the heart often recovers completely.
Congestive Heart Failure
While the final outcomes of some cardiac injuries are promising, Aetna.com explains that when Lyme is left untreated, congestive heart failure can result. As a result, the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body, leading to swelling of the legs and ankles and shortness of breath. Sometimes the damage to the heart can be so serious, that a transplant is necessary.
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