Intended for healthcare professionals


Undiagnosed Chagas disease is causing sudden cardiac deaths, warns American Heart Association

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 28 August 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3658
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Chagas disease, a chronic parasitic infection that can damage the heart, is widespread in the US and is a frequent cause of sudden cardiac death but often goes undiagnosed by physicians, the American Heart Association has warned.

More than 300 000 people in the US each year are infected by the protozoan causing Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi, the association warned in a scientific statement in the journal Circulation.1 About a third of infected people eventually develop overt heart disease because of the damage done by the parasite. A further 10% develop chronic neurological or gastrointestinal complications.

The vector is the bloodsucking triatomine insect or kissing bug, a name given because of its tendency to bite the face, especially around the mouth. …

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