Reviewed by Howard D. Weinberger, MD, FACC

What Is Cardiac Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a poorly understood disease that commonly affects the lungs. It can also involve the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, eyes, skin, bones, salivary glands and heart. Cardiac sarcoidosis is estimated to be present in 10 to 25 percent of people with sarcoidosis.

Sarcoidosis 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 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, sarcoidosis of the heart can precede, follow, or occur as the same time as other non-cardiac forms of sarcoidosis. The complications from heart involvement of sarcoidosis may occur suddenly and without warning.

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