Getting to the Heart of the Issue – Lyme Carditis: Why Early Diagnosis is Critical

by Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

 

Recently, we’ve started to hear more about Lyme carditis as one potentially lethal manifestation of Lyme disease.  What exactly is it, why does it happen, and how does it cause disease?

What is Lyme Carditis?

First of all, a little Latin.  When you see the suffix “-itis”, it denotes inflammation – often caused by an infection.  So, carditis literally means inflammation of the heart.

When a Borrelia infection enters the body, we know from animal studies that it disseminates quickly.  It tries to find the tissues where it is most comfortable, and often that includes the heart.  Borrelia can infect all parts of the heart – the myocardium, the pericardium, and the endocardium, the cardiac muscle, the valves, and even the aorta itself.  The immune system senses the presence of the spirochete bacteria and induces inflammation, the first prong of the immune system’s response.

The Challenges of Lyme Disease Reporting: Critical Consequences for California

Wendy AdamsLyme disease is a nationally notifiable disease, recognized and tracked by the federal government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for surveillance purposes. Surveillance data provides important information for assessing public health risks and allocating research dollars. Per the CDC, “The goal of Lyme disease surveillance is not to capture every case, but to systematically gather and analyze public health data in a way that enables public health officials to look for trends and take actions to reduce disease and improve public health.” However, these statistics have important implications for individual patients as well.

In this post, Bay Area Lyme Research Grant Director and Advisory Board Member Wendy Adams discusses some important changes to the CDC definitions of Lyme disease and some concerning implications for patients in the state of California.

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In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta published an updated Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) 2017 Case Definition. Lyme disease case definitions have been published since 1995, and the previous definition was published in 2011. The CDC actually is not responsible for this definition; instead it is the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) that is responsible for Lyme disease surveillance.  Each state has its own State Epidemiologist (see info about CA here). Despite being a federal agency, the CDC can offer input on these definitions but the CSTE is not obligated to accept those suggestions.

The case definition for Lyme disease is only intended to be used to determine cases for surveillance purposes and not to represent the full incidence of Lyme in a given area.  However, this subtlety is often confusing for doctors who see these low case numbers as proof that they do not need to consider a Lyme diagnosis in CA.  The low numbers also are convenient for insurance companies who inappropriately use this narrow definition as diagnostic criteria to deny coverage for patients whose cases don’t meet the definition.

It’s All In Your Head. …Or is it? A Physician’s Perspective

It’s All In Your Head. …Or is it?
A Physician’s Perspective

Guest post: Dr. Elena Frid, MD

This week, we feature a guest post from Dr. Elena Frid, a board-certified NYC neurologist and specialist in Lyme disease and other vector-borne diseases. Dr. Frid has been recognized by her peers and patients for her innovative diagnostic methods and treatment regiments for a wide array of complex neuro-Lyme manifestations which often mimic other illnesses including multiple sclerosis (MS), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), various learning disabilities, Autism, Arthritis, Lupus, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinsons, anxiety/depression, intractable headaches, dizziness, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) behavior, ticks and many more. Here, she shares her perspective on the complexities of treating these complex illnesses.

Over the years, I have seen numerous patients who complain of many neurologic and psychiatric conditions. Often, when a patient complains of more than one or two problems, many physicians can get overwhelmed. It is difficult to treat a patient who seems to have a multitude of problems that, at first glance, may not appear to be related. Part of the issue is that medicine is moving in the direction of treating symptoms, and not the underlying cause of the problem.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights Growth of Scientific Lyme Community in 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Highlights Growth of Scientific Lyme Community in 2016

Foundation demonstrates recruitment of new scientific talent through innovative programs

SILICON VALLEY, Calif., November 28, 2016—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading public nonprofit funder of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the organization granted $1.75 million in 2016 for Lyme research and education. Over the year, the Foundation continued to demonstrate success in bringing new scientific talent to the fight against tick-borne diseases. The organization highlights the recipients of the 2016 grant cycle, outlines the benefits of the Foundation’s contributions to Lyme Innovation, and announces their national Lyme Disease Biobank.

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Increases Annual ‘Emerging Leader Award’ Grants to $350,000 for Lyme Disease Research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation Increases Annual ‘Emerging Leader Award’ Grants to $350,000 for Lyme Disease Research

2017 additional award invites applications from Associate Professors through Full Professors

Silicon Valley, California, October 3, 2016 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation, supporter of research aimed at making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, announced today that it is beginning to accept applications for a new $250,000 grant award that has been added to its existing “Emerging Leader Award” portfolio of yearly funding.  Made available to researchers through the generosity of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and the Laurel Foundation, the portfolio also includes the $100,000 “Emerging Leader Award” which has previously been granted to researchers from Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, NC State and Louisiana State University.

California Strains of Lyme Bacteria May Survive Antibiotic Treatment, According to New Study

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Media Contact:
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

California Strains of Lyme Bacteria May Survive Antibiotic Treatment, According to New Study

This new study funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation identifies 20 FDA-approved compounds that are more effective in inhibiting persistent Lyme bacteria than standard treatment

Silicon Valley, CA, April 6, 2016—A laboratory study published today, funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, is the first study to demonstrate that strains of Lyme bacteria present in California ticks are able to form persister bacteria, which do not respond well to treatment.  The study is also the first to identify FDA-approved therapies that may be more effective in inhibiting these specific strains of persister bacteria in the lab than doxycycline, the most commonly prescribed treatment for Lyme disease. The study was conducted by Stanford School of Medicine researchers and published in the Open Access publication Drug Design, Development and Therapy. View full study here: http://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=26319

LymeAid Brings Celebrities and Scientists Together To Accelerate Medical Breathroughs for Lyme Disease

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Media Contact:
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com

Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid Brings Celebrities and Scientists Together to Help Accelerate Medical Breakthroughs for Lyme Disease

David and Yolanda Foster, Daryl Hall, Huey Lewis, Jane Seymour, and Elet Hall were among supporters to help combat the fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA — On Sunday, May 17, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, the leading national nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research, hosted more than 400 celebrities, philanthropists, and noteworthy scientists at the third annual LymeAid® gala. The benefit dinner and concert raised approximately $600,000, of which 100% will go directly to fund research for Lyme disease.  More than 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with this potentially debilitating disease each year.