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Nat Rev Cardiol. 2012 Oct;9(10):576-89. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2012.109. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Diagnosis and management of Chagas disease and cardiomyopathy.

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  • 1Faculdade de Medicina e Hospital das Clínicas da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Avenida Professor Alfredo Balena 190, Santa Efigênia, 30130-100 Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


Chagas cardiomyopathy is the most severe and life-threatening manifestation of human Chagas disease--a 'neglected' tropical disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. The disease is endemic in all continental Latin American countries, but has become a worldwide problem because of migration of infected individuals to developed countries, mainly in Europe and North America. Chagas cardiomyopathy results from the combined effects of persistent parasitism, parasite-driven tissue inflammation, microvascular and neurogenic dysfunction, and autoimmune responses triggered by the infection. Clinical presentation varies widely according to the extent of myocardial damage, and manifests mainly as three basic syndromes that can coexist in an individual patient: heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and thromboembolism. NYHA functional class, left ventricular systolic function, and nonsustained ventricular tachycardia are important prognostic markers of the risk of death. Management of Chagas cardiomyopathy focuses on the treatment of the three main syndromes. The use of β-blockers in patients with Chagas disease and heart failure is safe, well tolerated, and should be encouraged. Most specialists and international institutions now recommend specific antitrypanosomal treatment of patients with chronic Chagas disease, even in the absence of evidence obtained from randomized clinical trials. Further research on the management of patients with Chagas cardiomyopathy is necessary.

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