Cardiac sarcoidosis (CS) can take many forms, some benign and others serious.
- Heart Rhythm Disorders: Interference of electrical movement through the heart is the one of the complications of CS and can include complete heart block which can be life threatening. Alternatively, fast heart rhythms such as atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, and ventricular tachycardia can be present. Ventricular tachycardia occurs in almost 25 percent of CS patients and is of particular concern since it can lead to sudden cardiac death. These possible complications may occur suddenly without warning.
- Heart Failure: Heart failure is another common complication of CS. Sarcoidosis can cause the heart muscle to weaken and/or stiffen, leading to fluid retention in the lungs, abdomen, and lower extremities. In extreme cases, an aneurysm can form due to weakening of the heart wall. Granulomas can also infiltrate the hearts valves, causing leaky valves also resulting in heart failure.
- Coronary Disease: Although rare, CS can cause inflammatory disorder of the heart arteries called vasculitis. In severe forms, vasculitis can lead to coronary artery blockages, chest pain and, ultimately, heart attacks.
- Pericardial Disease: Inflammation of the sack around the heart, called pericarditis, is another rare but important form of CS.