Background: The incidence of Lyme disease (LD) in North America has increased substantially in the past two decades. Concomitant with the increased incidence of infection has been an enhancement in the recognition of LD complications. Here, we report a case of Lyme carditis complicated by heart block in a pediatric patient admitted to our children’s hospital. What is unique about this case is that the complaint of chest palpitations is an infrequent presentation of LD, and what it adds to the scientific literature is an improved understanding of LD in the pediatric population.
Case presentation: The patient was a 16-year-old male who presented with the main concerns of acute onset of palpitations and chest pain. An important clinical finding was Erythema migrans (EM) on physical exam. The primary diagnoses were LD with associated Lyme carditis, based on the finding of 1st degree atrioventricular heart block (AVB) and positive IgM and IgG antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi. Interventions included echocardiography, electrocardiography (EKG), and intravenous antibiotics. The hospital course was further remarkable for transition to 2nd degree heart block and transient episodes of complete heart block. A normal sinus rhythm and PR interval were restored after antibiotic therapy and the primary outcome was that of an uneventful recovery.
Conclusions: Lyme carditis occurs in < 5% of LD cases, but the “take-away” lesson of this case is that carditis can be the presenting manifestation of B. burgdorferi infection in pediatric patients. Any patient with suspected Lyme carditis manifesting cardiac symptoms such as syncope, chest pain, or EKG changes should be admitted for parenteral antibiotic therapy and cardiac monitoring. The most common manifestation of Lyme carditis is AVB. AVB may manifest as first-degree block, or may present as high-grade second or third-degree block. Other manifestations of Lyme carditis may include myopericarditis, left ventricular dysfunction, and cardiomegaly. Resolution of carditis is typically achieved through antibiotic administration, although pacemaker placement should be considered if the PR interval fails to normalize or if higher degrees of heart block, with accompanying symptoms, are encountered. With the rising incidence of LD, providers must maintain a high level of suspicion in order to promptly diagnose and treat Lyme carditis.
Repeat: Researchers need to refrain from stating that something is “rare” with Lyme disease as:
- testing misses more than 70% of cases (thousands go undiagnosed)
- much fewer report the EM rash than is quoted
- this is still a misunderstood illness that doctors are woefully uneducated on. If a patient doesn’t present with the EM rash, doctors unfamiliar with the wide symptom presentation are not going to catching this.
Click on image to see better. The graph is clear that there is a wide range of those with those finding the EM rash. While the EM rash is diagnostic for Lyme disease, many do not get it. In the first ever patient group in Lyme, Connecticut, only a quarter had the rash:
Again, mainstream medicine continues with abysmal testing and ancient dogma that is hurting patients.
More accurate scientific language would be: “Heart palpitations are rarely reported in the literature.” What happens in the real world is often quite different than what is reported in the literature – particularly with Lyme as research has been hijacked by The Cabal: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/01/13/lyme-science-owned-by-good-ol-boys/
BTW: I had chest palpitations, my husband had chest palpitations, and most of the patients I work with have them. I don’t think it’s nearly as rare as is being reported.
It’s a good thing this teen was promptly diagnosed as people have died from this: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2020/02/21/17-year-old-dies-from-lyme-carditis/
The following statement is quite frightening:
The hospital course was further remarkable for transition to 2nd degree heart block and transient episodes of complete heart block.
In 90% of cases, the most common consequence of Lyme carditis is heart block. The severity of the heart block can fluctuate rapidly and the progression to complete heart block can be fatal. Importantly, the heart block in Lyme carditis can be transient and usually resolves with antibiotic therapy. Additionally, Lyme carditis can affect other parts of the heart’s conduction system, as well as the heart’s muscle, valves, and outer layer of the heart wall.
These links show heart issues caused by Lyme disease are not rare.
Lyme advocate, Phyllis Mervine, makes a case that autopsies should be performed on those with unexpected, sudden death: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/07/09/with-unexpected-death-autopsies-should-look-for-lyme-carditis/