SCMR Seeks to Bring Awareness to Sarcoidosis
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Sarcoidosis is a systemic inflammatory disease that typically effects the lungs and lymph nodes and that can affect the heart, leading to possible arrhythmias and eventually heart failure. To date, sarcoidosis has no known cause. SCMR is promoting awareness of the disease this month, that is also recognized as Sarcoidosis Awareness Month. While electrocardiograms, echocardiography, and endomyocardial biopsy are standard diagnostic tests for sarcoidosis, cardiac MRI has the advantage of noninvasively assessing the entire myocardium for evidence of the disease.
“The ability to noninvasively assess changes in the heart tissue while at the same time assessing overall cardiac function is a major advantage in the diagnosis and care of cardiac sarcoidosis,” said Dr. Jennifer Jordan, fellow SCMR member and Committee Member. “We now have many MRI-conditional devices that allow patients who have cardiac sarcoidosis and an implanted device to undergo a cardiac MRI for either clinical care or research.”
Sarcoidosis is a disease characterized by the formation of tiny clumps of inflammatory cells in one or more organs of the body. When the immune system goes into overdrive and too many of these clumps form, they can interfere with an organ’s structure and function, especially the heart. CMR - or heart MRI - is able to confirm cardiac involvement, assess degree of inflammatory activity and assess response to treatment, and follow left ventricular function. While electrocardiograms, echocardiography and endomyocardial biopsy are standard diagnostic tests for sarcoidosis, cardiac MRI has the advantage of non-invasively assessing the entire myocardium for evidence of the disease.
Disease presentation and severity varies widely among patients with the most common symptoms being swollen lymph nodes, skin sores and lumps in the organs. In some cases, the disease goes away on its own where in others, the disease may not progress clinically, but individuals will still suffer from some symptoms that challenge their quality of life. The rest of patients—up to a third of people diagnosed with the disease—will require long-term treatment. Sarcoidosis is considered chronic in people whose disease remains active for more than 2-5 years; in this population sarcoidosis can be debilitating and life-threatening.