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BMC Infect Dis. 2019 May 16;19(1):428. doi: 10.1186/s12879-019-4025-0.

First case report of inducible heart block in Lyme disease and an update of Lyme carditis.

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St Luke's University Health Network, Warren Campus, 185 Roseberry Street, Phillipsburg, NJ, 08865, USA.
St Luke's University Health Network, Warren Campus, 185 Roseberry Street, Phillipsburg, NJ, 08865, USA.



Lyme disease (LD), is the most common vector-borne illness in the US and Europe, with predominantly cutaneous, articular, cardiac and neuro-psychiatric manifestations. LD affects all layers of the heart and every part of the conducting system. Carditis is a less common manifestation of LD. Heart block (HB) as the initial and sole manifestation of LD is rare. Inducible HB has never been reported in LD. We report a case of heart block (HB) inducible with exercise and reversible with rest.


A 37-year-old male presented to the emergency department after experiencing two episodes of syncope while at work. He presented, with a heart rate of 57 bpm, and the ECG showed sinus bradycardia with first degree AV block. The PR interval was 480 ms (NL 120-200 ms). Physical exam was unremarkable. The cardiologist's initial impression was vaso-vagal attack. He developed high degree AV block during a stress test for the initial work up, which resolved on cessation of exercise. A similar episode while walking in the hallway, resolved at rest. The high degree AV block appeared inducible with exercise and reversible with rest. His Lyme serology was strongly positive. He was treated with ceftriaxone and doxycycline. After completing treatment, the patient had a normal ECG and returned to work without limitations, doing manual labor.


Manifestations of Lyme carditis (LC) vary from asymptomatic and symptomatic electrocardiographic changes and heart block (HB) reversible with treatment, to sudden death. HB as the sole and initial presentation of LC is rare. There have been no reports of inducible HB in LD. Here we present a case of inducible and reversible high degree HB in a case of LC and an update of literature. Exercise and stress testing should be avoided in suspected cases of LC until resolution of carditis. Lyme carditis should be suspected in individuals with cardiac manifestations in an endemic area, particularly in the younger patients with no other etiology evident.


Borrelia burgdorferi; Heart block; Lyme Carditis; Lyme disease; Tick(s)

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