My Lyme Disease-Heart Disease Story

Having read the Boston Globe December 13th article on linkage between heart disease and possible death from Lyme Disease, I wanted to share my story. Living in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, I have a regimen of active nature hiking. (1)

In an annual check-up in 2011 the nurse found my pulse was very low, so I was given a heart monitor to track my pulse over 24 hours. Upon turning it in, it was reported that my heartbeat was down to 36 beats per minute.   As this is a seriously low rate, I was told to immediately check with a cardiologist.

When I visited a local cardiologist, I was informed I needed a pacemaker. My heart has always been strong, and I was completely confused and troubled as to why this crisis was now happening. I asked my cardiologist why this had occurred. He responded, “I don’t know.” I pushed and pushed him to help me understand, until he said, “well, maybe, it might be Lyme Disease.” Upon testing, it was indeed found I had an active infection to the disease.

While I never had a telltale rash from contracting Lyme, I had experienced serious joint pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath. I found it hard to walk up a short set of stairs. As I was 65, I first believed this was due to my “just getting older.”

Upon testing positive for Lyme and I found I had contracted the disease within the short window when medicines work to send the virus into remission, I was blasted with antibodies that worked. Over time, the heart symptoms disappeared and my last check-up with the cardiologist revealed I was not using my pacemaker at all. So it seemed, thankfully, I no longer needed it.

The troubling parts of my story is that the cardiologist would not had tested for Lyme without my pushing, he later never filed with the state the report of a positive test. It was only after I consulted a second cardiologist did I learn how Lyme can directly affect the natural pulse-spark, the solenoid, that fires the heart muscle and how Lyme sometimes can lead to heart failure or death.

My story is offered for all who exhibit symptoms of similar problems, such as shortness of breath, anxiety, unexplained exhaustion or heart palpitations to consider being your own advocate on finding the cause. Ask directly your partner about your sleep rhythms. Upon finding out about this Lyme symptom, my wife told me she had worried about my sleep, as, it seemed. “I stopped breathing for a few seconds.” In retrospect, it appears that I was having episodes during which my heart momentarily stopped, and thus I did not breathe.

Every month, I give my old Lab anti-tick medicine so the ticks die when sucking his blood. It seems, as Doctor Plotkin states, time to develop a human vaccine.

1. Three heart cases, deaths due to Lyme disease by Beth Daley, The Boston Globe, December 13, 2013

2. Heart stopping tick. Karmacharya P1, Aryal MR. World J Cardiol. 2013 May 26;5(5):148-50. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v5.i5.148. Free Full Text.

Michael Bedford
North Adams, Massachusetts

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About David Elpern

The Online Journal of Community and Person-Centered Dermatology (OJCPCD) is a free, full text, open-access, online publication that addresses all aspects of skin disease that concern patients, their families, and practitioners. ​It was founded in 2012 by Dr. David J. Elpern, M.D. in Williamstown, MA. with technical help from Inez Tan.

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