6 Common Cardiac Sarcoidosis Symptoms to Be Aware Of

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, clinically evident cardiac sarcoidosis causes complete heart block and bundle branch block in 23 to 30 and 12 to 32 percent, respectively, of patients with the condition. Such unfortunate occurrences can lead to health problems and sudden death, which is why it is crucial to learn about the most common cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms.

Knowing what to look out for can be vital to getting early treatment. With the right information, you can seek medical help and find solutions that can effectively prevent complications that may otherwise develop. Keep in mind that this condition can affect anyone, regardless of age and gender.

Cardiac Sarcoidosis Overview

Sarcoidosis is a condition characterized by the development of tiny groups of inflammatory cells or granulomas in any given part of the human body.

This condition can affect organs such as the lungs, heart, lymph nodes, skin, and eyes. When this disease affects the heart, it is referred to as cardiac sarcoidosis.

The actual cause of cardiac sarcoidosis is yet unknown. However, experts believe it occurs when the body’s immune system responds to an unknown substance.

Chemicals, infectious agents, and dust are among some of the things that may cause this condition. There's also the possibility that you may develop sarcoidosis due to the immune system reacting wrongfully to the body’s proteins.

Keep in mind: This article is for information only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.

Risk Factors For Cardiac Sarcoidosis

Anyone can get cardiac sarcoidosis. However, certain factors put some people at a higher risk than others.

Age

Individuals that are between the ages of 20 to 60 years are often at a higher risk of getting this condition than those who are outside of the age bracket.

Sex

Women are more likely to develop cardiac sarcoidosis as compared to their male counterparts.

Race

Individuals of African and Northern European origins are more likely to develop this condition.

Family history

A family that has a history of developing this condition is at a higher risk of recurrence.

The 6 Most Common Cardiac Sarcoidosis Symptoms

someone checking blood pressure

​Image source: Pixabay

Cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms can sometimes mimic symptoms from other diseases and conditions, which is why diagnosis can be a bit difficult.

In some cases, individuals may never develop cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms. Those who develop symptoms may experience the following.

1. Irregular Heartbeats

Experiencing Irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias is one of the most common cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms. Patients who experience this symptom may notice that their heart is beating too fast or seems to be skipping a beat. Some people may feel as though the heart is fluttering.

There are cases where irregular heartbeats are so silent that you may never notice it. Worth noting is that an irregular heartbeat may be an emergency.

There are also times when irregular heartbeats happen and resolve themselves without causing any problems.

2. Fainting

Fainting or syncope is another one of the most common cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms. It refers to a sudden but brief loss of consciousness. Individuals often faint when there is a decrease in blood flow to their brain.

Cardiac sarcoidosis may affect the blood vessels that are leading to or coming from the heart. And that can easily compromise the rate at which blood flows to the brain. That's why patients with this condition may end up fainting.

3. The Development Of Edema

Third on the list of cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms is the development of edema. That refers to an accumulation of fluid in body tissue.

While this symptom can occur in any part of the body, it often affects the abdomen, legs, ankles, hands, and arms.

Individuals that develop severe cases of edema may end up experiencing a myriad of complications. First, it may cause difficulty in motor functions if the affected parts are, say the arms or legs. Second, if left untreated, it may lead to inflammation and possible infections.

To avoid such complications, it is wise for you to report this symptom to your doctor for proper diagnosis.

Keep in mind that edema is not only one of the cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms, but may also be a sign of other potentially dangerous diseases.

4. Chest Pain

Chest pain is another one of the cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms you should be aware of. This pain may be characterized by a dull ache, burning feeling, or sharp stabbing feeling.

It's worth pointing out that you can develop chest pains without any underlying disease or condition. Heavy lifting, overexercising, swallowing large chunks of food, and injuries are all potential causes of chest pain.

However, cardiac sarcoidosis patients can also experience chest pain due to the complications that arise from the condition.

If you suspect that your chest pain is due to an underlying issue, the best thing to do is pay a visit to your doctor for a diagnosis.

5. Shortness Of Breath

Shortness of breath or dyspnea is a situation where you feel like you are suffocating. It's also another of the cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms that may occur even without an underlying cause.

Tight fitting clothes, altitude, intense workouts, and a sedentary lifestyle are also potential causes of shortness of breath. If you feel short of breath, it's best to see your doctor.

6. Unusual Fatigue

Fatigue is the feeling of being tired, even when you have not engaged in any physical activities. Just like the other cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms, this is not a definitive indicator of having the condition.

Try to eliminate other possible causes of your symptoms, and if you can't, visit a doctor.

In this case, you should ascertain that your fatigue is not a result of overworking, exercise, lack of sleep, or the use of drugs. Even so, fatigue can indicate underlying issues, and you should consult your doctor.

Cardiac Sarcoidosis Prevention And Treatment

There's no way for you to prevent cardiac sarcoidosis from occurring. However, it's always important for you to ensure you follow the rules of healthy living.

Eat a balanced diet, stay away from harmful substances that may trigger your immune system, and report any health issues as soon as you notice them.

Cardiac sarcoidosis is a self-limiting condition, which means it can occur and disappear without any treatment. Nonetheless, there are situations when cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms may become quite severe and disruptive to your normal lifestyle.

It's in such circumstances that you should consider ways of managing it. The sooner you get treatment for cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms, the higher your chances of avoiding further complications.

To achieve the best results, doctors may opt for a combination of treatments. Your doctor may recommend the use of immunosuppression medications to curb the production of granulomas.

If you are experiencing irregular heartbeats as one of the most severe of the cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms, your doctor may use a pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) to restore or manage your heart rhythm.

Cardiac ablation is another treatment option that may be effective in managing this condition. Ablation is a medical procedure to destroy tissues of the heart that may be causing problems, such as an irregular heartbeat.

For individuals whose condition has become extremely severe, the doctor may stop trying to manage cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms and instead carry out a heart transplant.

Cardiac Sarcoidosis Diagnosis And Complications

Patients who don't have cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms or those who go without treatment, may end up experiencing complications.

A compromise in blood flow, heart rhythm, and other heart functions may cause tremendous health risks. In severe cases, patients may even experience heart failure and sudden death.

Because cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms can mimic symptoms from other diseases, it is necessary for a doctor to run several tests to ascertain the situation.

Some tests that can help verify if someone has cardiac sarcoidosis include nuclear imaging, tissue biopsy, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging.

Other tests are:

Echocardiogram

This test checks for abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.

Electrocardiogram

This test allows doctors to determine if there is a problem with the heart’s rhythm.

Holter Monitor

This test usually involves continuous monitoring of the heartbeat for about two days. It allows doctors to determine if there is any disturbance to the heart.

Cardiac Sarcoidosis Prognosis

​The prognosis for this condition is not well defined. However, experts believe that individuals who receive treatment in the early stages stand a better chance of overcoming the disease.

It is worth remembering that some cases of cardiac sarcoidosis resolve on their own.

You can find more information about this condition through the books Sarcoidosis 1st Edition and Cardiac Sarcoidosis: Key Concepts in Pathogenesis, Disease Management, and Interesting Cases.

What To Remember When Dealing With A Suspected Case Of Sarcoidosis

​If you or a loved one experiences any or all of the cardiac sarcoidosis symptoms noted above, it's wise to seek medical attention as soon as possible. It's only such an expert that can carry out tests and ascertain what is causing your symptoms.

Whether diagnosed with this condition or not, be sure to follow all the rules of healthy living to avoid or minimize the risk of health problems.

Engage in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and avoid harmful substances such as illicit drugs and too much alcohol.

Have you or a relative had an experience with cardiac sarcoidosis or other heart-related complications? Share your experience with us in the comment section.

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