Health officials in Minnesota are warning about Lyme-infected tick bites that attack the heart and cause sudden cardiac death. The state recorded the first fatal case of what is called Lyme carditis last year, and another man recently reported the illness, Fox 9 reported.
Steve Stolz told the news site that he noticed his heart was beating at a slower pace while walking up a hill. He went to the emergency room where doctors determined a tick bite disturbed the electrical system of his heart.
“Sixty-five percent of patients with Lyme carditis are men and typically younger, ages 15 to 40,” Dr. Alex Campbell of the Minneapolis Heart Institute, told Fox 9. “Nobody understands why, but that’s what we see.”
The bacteria from the bite burrows into the heart muscle, which causes the electrical signals that keep the heart beating to short circuit. This can cause the heart to slow to a stop or develop a potentially fatal fast rhythm, Fox 9 reported.
“The heart will stop pumping blood and you pass out and that’s a sudden death,” Campbell told Fox 9.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one percent of patients with Lyme disease will develop Lyme carditis. The condition can be treated with antibiotics or a temporary pace maker.