Johns Hopkins cardiologist and cardiac sarcoidosis expert Nisha Gilotra, M.D., explains how sarcoidosis can affect the heart and outlines treatment options for this condition.
What is cardiac sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition that can affect multiple organs. In cardiac sarcoidosis, tiny collections of immune cells form granulomas in the heart tissue and can interfere with normal functioning.
What are the symptoms of cardiac sarcoidosis?
Symptoms of cardiac sarcoidosis include:
- Chest pain
- Fainting (syncope)
- Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in legs from fluid excess
Symptoms of cardiac sarcoidosis can be life-threatening.
Call 911 or go to the ER: If you have heart problems such as chest pains, shortness of breath or sudden numbness, get help immediately.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
If you have a new or existing heart problem, it's vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
What causes cardiac sarcoidosis?
The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown, but researchers believe it results from an abnormal response of the body’s immune system. There may also be environmental and genetic predispositions.
How is cardiac sarcoidosis diagnosed?
Cardiac sarcoidosis can be difficult to diagnose and requires thorough testing, which may include the following:
Cardiology at Johns Hopkins
Our world-renowned cardiologists at Johns Hopkins provide treatment, prevention and management for all kinds of heart conditions in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area.
How is cardiac sarcoidosis treated?
Medications usually include immunosuppression such as steroids and cardiac-specific medication if you have arrhythmias or heart failure. Additionally, patients may require the following cardiac procedures:
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
- Catheter ablation
- Heart transplant/left ventricular assist device
Am I at risk for developing cardiac sarcoidosis?
Cardiac sarcoidosis can develop in all ethnicities and ages, but there are certain things that may put some people at higher risk. For example, sarcoidosis is more common in patients ages 20–60 and in those of African American or Northern European ethnicity.
Cardiac Sarcoidosis Treatment at Johns Hopkins
The Johns Hopkins Cardiac Sarcoidosis Program specializes in early, accurate diagnosis and providing treatment tailored to each patient's lifestyle.