Lyme Disease and Heart Problems The Connection
Lyme disease and heart problems seem to walk hand in hand.
Since the early days of my sickness, I have struggled to right the crazy heart rhythms and blood pressures that have plagued me. In the beginning, Isoptin was my drug of choice.
Commonly used to lower high blood pressure and regulate heart rhythm, it did nothing to ease my problems. So, I let it fall by the wayside and dealt with my tachycardia and PVC issues on my own.
Over the years there have been frequent episodes of my heart beating so fast that I thought it would literally fly out of my chest. I have had so many echocardiograms I’ve lost count. Holter monitors and heart rhythm logs failed to catch my heart at its worst.
Every EKG I have had demonstrates a left bundle branch block, which puts me at risk of death if I ever have a heart attack. I have had nuclear studies and they have tried to convince me to have a heart catheterization which I promptly refused.
I have heard diagnosis after diagnosis, some scary and some benign. Pulmonary hypertension was perhaps the scariest train of thought, but I got a second opinion and the consensus right now is leaning towards the mild end of the spectrum.
Tachycardia and blood pressure issues are the bane of my existence. Throw in a bit of costochondritis and you have a recipe for misery.
My first cardiologist insisted that I had a very large heart. I immediately sought a second opinion only to learn that it is indeed thickened but not enlarged as once believed.
Left Bundle Branch Block
I was diagnosed before my thirtieth birthday with left bundle branch block, which is a delay or blockage of electrical impulses to the left side of the heart.It is rare in young, healthy people. Left bundle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood efficiently.
Slow heart rates and irregular heart rates are a few of the symptoms that go along with this condition. Some times my heart will beat at right around 60 beats per minute which is a perfect resting heart rate, but not if you are up and about trying to live your life. It makes me dizzy and nauseous.
Left Bundle Branch patients have a high mortality rate after having a heart attack. It is most often caused by an underlying heart condition and even rheumatic heart disease. Long story short, left bundle seldom occurs in a healthy heart. Those who have left bundle block are at a higher risk for heart disease.
Left bundle is much more worrisome than right bundle block, as it can point to significant underlying heart disease. It is also more common in middle-aged and older men, than women. Which makes me a bit of a mystery unless of course you realize that I have Lyme disease, the culprit that my doctor believes is behind my heart damage.
Lyme and heart block often run together. The bottom line is that Lyme disease damages hearts. The results from a recent nuclear heart study showed that my heart has signs of rheumatic damage, which my Lyme doctor believes is more accurately “Lyme damage.”
High Blood Pressure
This past year, high blood pressure has been one of my primary struggles. I of course was prescribed blood pressure medication to control it. I was told it is important for me to take it because high pressures have already caused my heart to thicken.
Upon taking this medicine, my blood pressure plummeted. I’m talking like in the toilet, plummeting so low I can barely function. I am a walking contradiction, first one way and then the other.
Low Blood Pressure
What is a girl to do? This week my pressures have been running so low, that I am at the risk of fainting. One minute they will be normal, within seconds they will plummet extremely low. I get shaky and weak. My head feels fuzzy and I have to lay down.
Recently, the room got hazy and I just knew that I was seconds away from a dead faint. Thankfully after a cup full of hot tea and a rest, the haze lifted and my pressure returned to a more manageable low.
The connection between Lyme Disease and Blood Pressure
I was so worried that I contacted my Lyme doctor. He immediately told me that my Lyme disease is interfering with my aldosterone production. Aldosterone helps regulate sodium and potassium levels in the body. It also helps to regulate blood pressure. It is super important.
Apparently low aldosterone levels are a marker of adrenal fatigue which is common in Lyme patients. The recommendation is that I add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to 8 ounces of water three times a day. It has not been long enough for me to see if this will actually help, but I am hopeful.
Until then here I am on the couch, waiting for a reprieve.
How about you? Have you experienced heart problems related to Lyme disease?
To read more about my journey with Lyme disease you can read here:
A Day in My Life With Lyme Disease and A Window Into The Isolation of Lyme Disease and Chronic Illness