Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can sometimes affect the heart. One complication of Lyme disease is Lyme carditis, which may sometimes mimic high blood pressure. Treatment for Lyme disease can also cause a person to experience changes in blood pressure.
A further complication of Lyme carditis is heart block, which can cause heart rate irregularities and a slower-than- usual heartbeat.
This article explores the link between Lyme disease and high blood pressure. It also discusses other connections between Lyme disease and heart health, alongside the symptoms, treatment, and outlook.
There is no scientific evidence that Lyme disease itself can cause high or low blood pressure. However, Lyme disease can affect the heart in ways that mimic high blood pressure. Moreover, treatment for Lyme disease sometimes causes changes in blood pressure.
High blood pressure itself is
Lyme carditis can also cause chest pain and shortness of breath.
Jarisch Herxheimer reaction (JHR)
JHR is a reaction to antibiotic treatment for certain bacterial infections. These infections include Lyme disease.
Lyme carditis and JHR are different ways B. burgdorferi bacteria can affect the heart.
Both conditions can cause several different symptoms. These sometimes include changes in heart rate.
Research shows that heart block is the
During heart block, an individual’s heart starts beating unusually. For instance, heart block can cause an irregular beating. It can also cause bradycardia — when the heart beats too slowly.
There are many different symptoms of JHR. These include:
JHR can also cause an increase in heart rate.
A doctor needs to prescribe antibiotics to treat Lyme disease.
According to the
The severity of Lyme carditis is also relevant to treatment. In milder cases of Lyme carditis, doctors recommend oral antibiotics.
The table below summarises antibiotic regiments for mild Lyme carditis:
|doxycycline||adults||100 mg, twice daily|
|children||4.4 mg/kg, divided into 2 doses|
|amoxicillin||adults||500 mg, 3 times per day|
|children||50 mg/kg, divided into 3 doses|
|cefuroxime||adults||500 mg, twice daily|
|children||30 mg/kg, divided into 3 doses|
In severe cases of Lyme carditis, doctors recommend 1 dose of intravenous ceftriaxone.
For adults, the recommendation is 2 grams (g) of ceftriaxone. For children, the recommendation is 50–75 milligrams of ceftriaxone per kilogram of body weight. The daily dose cannot exceed 2 g.
Some people with Lyme carditis also require a temporary pacemaker.
When JHR occurs, doctors should pause antibiotic treatment until the complication resolves.
Doctors do not always treat JHR. However,
The outlook for Lyme disease is generally good. Research suggests that around
Many people recover from Lyme carditis. However, the
Scientists believe that JHR typically resolves on its own within
In some cases, JHR can cause a life threatening drop in blood pressure. However, this is quite rare.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can cause many different symptoms.
There is no scientific evidence that Lyme disease can cause high blood pressure. However, it can cause Lyme carditis, which can share similar symptoms with high blood pressure, such as chest pain and shortness of breath.
During treatment, JHR can cause changes in blood pressure. Although these often disappear on their own, they can sometimes be dangerous.