Chagas heart disease: A contemporary review

J Nucl Cardiol. 2020 Apr;27(2):445-451. doi: 10.1007/s12350-018-1361-1. Epub 2018 Jul 18.


Chagas disease is caused by a parasite infection endemic of the Americas. Traditionally observed in rural areas of Latin America, current migration trends have turned Chagas disease into a global epidemic. Acute infection is rarely severe and once it resolves, some patients can develop cardiomyopathy as part of the chronic form many years later. Multiple factors related with both the host and the parasite determine the susceptibility and progression to cardiomyopathy. Current imaging techniques are able to identify cardiac autonomic denervation, perfusion abnormalities, and myocardial fibrosis at an early of stage before the development of symptoms. The prognosis of patients with Chagasic cardiomyopathy remains poor and life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias can occur at an early stage. Treatment of chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy is challenging with a great need for more studies in the field.

Keywords: Cardiac innervation; Cardiomyopathy; Infection; MRI; SPECT.