Sarcoidosis is a poorly understood disease that most often affects the lungs. However, it also can involve almost any part of the body, including the heart.
What Is Cardiac Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a poorly understood disease that most often affects the lungs. However, it also can involve almost any part of the body, including the heart. Sarcoidosis most often affects people between the age of 25 and 45. When sarcoidosis affects the heart, it is called cardiac sarcoidosis. Cardiac sarcoidosis is estimated to be present in 10 to 25 percent of people with sarcoidosis. Some estimates say that up to one in four patients with sarcoidosis of the lungs have cardiac sarcoidosis without any symptoms, meaning that the number of people with cardiac sarcoidosis may be much higher than estimated.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease, which is characterized by the presence of granulomas. These are ball-like collections of inflammatory cells that cluster around and react to a foreign substance. The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. Though it can be treated, there is no known cure. Severity of sarcoidosis varies from mild to severe and even life-threatening. When left unchecked, it can cause permanent scarring, or fibrosis, of organ tissue. This is also true of cardiac sarcoidosis.
Cardiac sarcoidosis is serious and requires treatment. Though cardiac sarcoidosis most often occurs in the heart muscle, the inflammation associated with granulomas can damage virtually every part of the heart, including the electrical system, muscle, valves, arteries and surrounding tissue, called the pericardium. It is important to remember that sarcoidosis of the heart can precede, follow or occur at the same time as other non-cardiac forms of sarcoidosis. The complications from heart involvement of sarcoidosis may occur suddenly and without warning, and may occur after there is no longer any inflammation from active sarcoidosis.