Lyme carditis: cardiac abnormalities of Lyme disease

Ann Intern Med. 1980 Jul;93(1):8-16. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-93-1-8.


We studied 20 patients, mostly young adult men, with cardiac involvement of Lyme disease. The commonest abnormality (18 patients) was fluctuating degrees of atrioventricular block; eight of them developed complete heart block. Thirteen patients had evidence of more diffuse cardiac involvement: electrocardiographic changes compatible with acute myopericarditis (11 patients), radionuclide evidence of mild left ventricular dysfunction (five of 12 patients tested), or frank cardiomegaly (one patient). Heart involvement was usually preceded by erythema chronicum migrans and sometimes accompanied by meningoencephalitis, facial palsy, arthritis, elevated serum IgM levels, or cryoglobulins containing IgM. The duration of cardiac involvement was usually brief (3 days to 6 weeks). The clinical picture in these patients has similarities to acute rheumatic fever; but in Lyme disease, complete heart block may be commoner, myopericardial involvement tends to be milder, and valves seem not to be affected.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Infectious / complications*
  • Arthritis, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Infectious / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Child
  • Cryoglobulins / immunology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Erythema / complications
  • Female
  • Heart Block / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Isoantigens / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocarditis / etiology*
  • Rheumatic Fever / diagnosis


  • Cryoglobulins
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Isoantigens