by Dr. Bill Rawls
There are times when your body gives you warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored. Experiencing symptoms of Lyme Carditis — including irregular heartbeats, persistent chest pain, or shortness of breath upon exertion — is one of those times.
Lyme Carditis is a potentially life-threatening manifestation of Lyme disease that requires immediate attention from your doctor. In this video, Dr. Bill Rawls discusses Lyme carditis and provides helpful information for getting the treatment you need. Learn more about Lyme carditis here.
Note: If you suspect you have Lyme carditis — heart involvement with Lyme disease — don’t second-guess yourself. See your doctor as soon as possible.
Question: What is the best treatment for Lyme carditis?
Hello, I’m Dr. Bill Rawls. Question: What is the best treatment for Lyme carditis?
This is one that hits close to home, because when I had Lyme disease, that was one of my most pronounced symptoms.
Symptoms that come with it:
- Heart beating irregularly, skipped beats. My heart was beating about every second to third beat.
- Something called heart block, where your heart drops down to a rate of about 50 or 60, and even with exercise you can’t bring it up. So there’s a lot of exercise intolerance.
- Chest pain, just chest discomfort
- Failure to thrive, not being able to do the things that you want to do
Basically, the heart muscle is being invaded by microbes and is inflamed. I think most everyone with chronic Lyme disease gets a little bit of this, because when the microbes enter the body, they infect white blood cells, and they’re distributed throughout all tissues in the body.
What the microbes want is collagen. High-collagen areas are the brain, joints, muscles, and especially heart muscle. It is something that’s pretty darn common.
In a significant degree, it’s not something to mess around with. If you’re having significant cardiac symptoms, and here I’m talking about not just a skipped beat every now and then, but an irregularity or chest pain or your heart rate just beating at a really low rate, you need to see a doctor, you need to be evaluated.
One of the first things they’re going to do is an EKG. They did that on me, and they showed that I wasn’t having acute loss of oxygen or hypoxia to my heart, but it was happening chronically. My heart muscle wasn’t getting what it needed, because the whole heart was irritated.
That can lead to a variety of tests that can include a cardiac catheterization, which I did have. And there, they’re looking at two things. They’re looking at the ability of the heart to beat. Is the muscle swollen? Also, is the heart getting blood flow through the coronary vessels?
In my case, my heart was not significantly enlarged, and my coronary vessels were clear. I didn’t have any plaque formation. In other words, I didn’t have atherosclerosis going along with the infection.
Classically, the treatment for that is antibiotic therapy. If you’ve got significant heart involvement, that is an indication to do antibiotic therapy. You can do it either orally or intravenously, depending on your doctor’s choice. There are various options for both, and that often will help resolve the symptoms, but not always.
It didn’t, in my case. The antibiotics didn’t help that much. I continued having symptoms, and it wasn’t until I embraced herbal therapy and really took a high concentration of a variety of herbs with antimicrobial properties, that, over a several-year period, my heart gradually came back to normal. But it took time. It took several years.
I finally got full capacity back. I may still have some scarring in the heart muscle. It’s hard to know, but at this point, I have full capacity to do whatever I want.
First off, you need to see your doctor; you need to be evaluated if you’ve got significant cardiac symptoms. Do everything they tell you to do. There probably will be drugs like beta-blockers to help normalize the rhythm, and if antibiotics are recommended, I would suggest taking them.
If you think you have Lyme disease and you haven’t been formally diagnosed, keep pursuing that option, because they’re not going to give you antibiotics until they define that you absolutely have Lyme disease. Keep pushing at it, and sometimes that’s what it takes to get the therapy that you need.
But if antibiotics don’t get you where you need — and doing course after course after course of antibiotics tends not to work because you end up destroying the normal flora in your body and disrupting your immune system functions, which are essential for getting well — if the antibiotics aren’t getting you there, or in addition to antibiotics, do the herbal therapy. Do intense herbal therapy.
There are so many great herbs that help normalize cardiac function. Many of the ones that we use for chronic Lyme disease are really nice, like andrographis, reishi mushrooms; all of these have some really helpful properties.
I took an herb called hawthorn, about 1200 milligrams a day, that helped balance cardiac function. I was also taking about 200 to 400 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 at that point, because Coenzyme Q10 has been found to be beneficial for heart failure.
Those are some basic things to do in addition to following the recommendations of your physician if you have been diagnosed with Lyme carditis.