Cardiac Sarcoidosis (CS)

What is Cardiac Sarcoidosis?

Cardiac Sarcoidosis is a rare disease in which clumps of white blood cells (also called granulomas) form in the heart. These granulomas disrupt normal heart function and could lead to potential life-threatening conditions.

Although sarcoidosis most commonly affects the lungs, the heart is affected in about 20% of patients with sarcoidosis. The disease is more common in women than in men. It also affects more African Americans than Caucasians in the United States.

Cardiac Sarcoidosis Research at Michigan Medicine

Michigan Medicine is the leading site for the Cardiac Sarcoidosis Registry. This is the premier patient database that collects information on CS patients and uses it to further study the disease.

We have enrolled hundreds of patients and continue to make strides in understanding how to best treat this disease. To join the Cardiac Sarcoidosis Registry to help further CS research efforts, contact one of the CS Registry project managers below, or visit our Cardiac Sarcoidosis Registry web page for more information.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Cardiac Sarcoidosis

Symptoms of Cardiac Sarcoidosis include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Leg Swelling
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Heart beating too quickly, slowly, or irregularly

A definite diagnosis of Cardiac Sarcoidosis is made through endomyocardial biopsy. This is when a narrow wire is snaked into your heart and a small tissue sample is obtained. The tissue is then tested to see if cardiac sarcoidosis is present or not.

Without a positive tissue sample, the diagnosis of Cardiac Sarcoidosis is made with a variety of tests. Initial tests performed are electrocardiogram and echocardiogram.  These tests assess the heart’s electrical system and pumping ability. X-Rays are also used to look at the lungs, where sarcoidosis is most common.

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) are also used. These tests are able to make very accurate images of your heart that are helpful in identifying granulomas.   

Cardiac Sarcoidosis Treatments

With Michigan Medicine leading the charge on the Cardiac Sarcoidosis Registry, we are well equipped to treat this disease. Our Cardiology and Heart Surgery program has been ranked #1 in Michigan by U.S. News & World Report, and our cardiologists are working every day to better understand and treat patients with cardiac sarcoidosis. We have also published an article about Cardiac Sarcoidosis on the online journal Circulation.

Drug Therapy

Patients most often begin on immunosuppression therapy. Prednisone is most commonly used. Often, only this therapy is used and the disease course is halted without needing to take more action.

Patients may also be put on other drug therapies to control heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.

Device Implantation

Patients that have abnormal heart rhythms or rates could have a pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) placed. These devices are implanted surgically.

Heart Transplant

In rare cases of the disease, patients may be candidates for heart transplant.

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with us to be evaluated for cardiac sarcoidosis, call us at 888-287-1082 or visit our Make a Cardiovascular Appointment page, where you can find out more information about what to expect when you call us.

For more information about the Cardiac Sarcoidosis Registry, visit our Cardiac Sarcoidosis Registry page.