How is granulomatous dilated cardiomyopathy (sarcoidosis) diagnosed and treated?

Updated: Mar 02, 2021
  • Author: Vinh Q Nguyen, MD, FACC; Chief Editor: Gyanendra K Sharma, MD, FACC, FASE  more...
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Endomyocardial biopsy may be helpful in establishing the diagnosis, especially in sarcoidosis in which the myocardium may be involved. Involvement may be patchy, resulting in a negative biopsy finding. The diagnosis can also be made if some other tissue diagnosis is possible or available in conjunction with the appropriate clinical picture for heart failure. Cardiac involvement in sarcoidosis reportedly occurs in approximately 20% of cases.

Patients have signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis and CHF. Patients rarely present with CHF without evidence of systemic sarcoid. Bilateral mediastinal, paratracheal, and/or hilar lymphadenopathy may be evident.

Noncaseating granulomatous infiltration of the myocardium occurs as with other organs affected by this disease. Sarcoid granulomas can show a localized distribution within the myocardium. The granulomas particularly affect the conduction system of the heart, left ventricular free wall, septum, papillary muscles, and, infrequently, heart valves. Fibrosis and thinning of the myocardium occurs as a result of the infiltrative process affecting the normal function of the myocardium.

Diagnosis involves finding noncaseating granulomas from cardiac biopsy or other tissues. Often, patients present with conduction disturbances or ventricular arrhythmias. In fact, in patients with normal left ventricular function, these conduction disturbances may be the primary clinical feature.

Treatment of cardiac sarcoidosis with low-dose steroids may be beneficial, especially in patients with progressive disease, conduction defects, or ventricular arrhythmias. The true benefit is unknown because of the lack of placebo-controlled studies. This also holds true for the use of other immunosuppressive agents (eg, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate) in the treatment of cardiac sarcoidosis.

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