Doctoral dissertation studying Cardiac Sarcoidosis (CM) and Giant Cell Myocarditis (GCM)

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This Doctoral Dissertation from November 2015, studied Cardiac Sarcoidosis (CM) and Giant Cell Myocarditis (GCM) in Finland.
The researcher, Riina Kandolin, at the Division of Cardiology, Heart and Lung Center at Helsinki University Hospital, has found the detection rate of CS and GCM in Finland is increasing and the prognosis with contemporary diagnostic and therapeutic methods seems better than previously reported.

Please enjoy this Abstract on her work. For the complete Dissertation, please refer to full article

Cardiac sarcoidosis (CS) and giant cell myocarditis (GCM) are underdiagnosed inflammatory myocardial diseases. Sarcoidosis is a systemic disease characterized by granuloma formation and subsequent tissue scarring in various organs, most commonly in the lungs. In majority of cases, lung sarcoidosis is a self-limiting disease whereas cardiac involvement carries a poorer prognosis due to heart failure and malignant arrhythmias. GCM is a rare, frequently fatal myocardial disease designated by widespread myocardial inflammation and necrosis. Prior data concerning epidemiology, outcome with contemporary treatment and ICDs, and the effect of novel diagnostic methods is scarce and I set out to study these questions.

All cases with histologically confirmed CS and GCM in Finland between 1988 and 2014 were identified and analyzed. A marked increase in the detection rate of CS over the last 26 years was found. In the era of modern diagnostic imaging and increased awareness, the annual detection rate of CS is over 50 times higher than before.

CS most commonly manifests with atrioventricular block (AV-block). What is more, CS and GCM together explain 25% of initially idiopathic 2nd to 3rd degree AV-blocks in adults aged 18-55 years. Other principal manifestations of CS are heart failure and ventricular arrhythmias. Two thirds of patients with CS present without prior diagnosis of sarcoidosis, an entity called clinically isolated CS. The mean age of CS patients was 51 years and two thirds were female. The diagnosis was based on endomyocardial biopsy (EMB) in 50% of cases and on extracardiac biopsy combined with cardiac imaging findings (cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) or positron emission tomography (PET)) in 50% cases. Single EMB session had a sensitivity of approximately 30% in detecting CS, but repeated biopsies or taking histologic samples from mediastinal lymph nodes markedly improved the diagnostic yield.

In majority of cases, CS is a slowly progressive cardiomyopathy. With up-to-date diagnostic methods and treatment, 99% of patients were alive without cardiac death or transplantation at 1 year and 91% after 10 years from symptom onset.

The most common presentations in GCM patients were heart failure and AV-block. Moreover, ventricular arrhythmias were common with two third of patients experiencing sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation during the disease course. With current diagnostic methods and therapy with a combination of immunosuppressants, the transplant free survival was 69% at 1 year and 52% at 5 years.

In conclusion, the detection rate of CS and GCM in Finland is increasing and the prognosis with contemporary diagnostic and therapeutic methods seems better than previously reported.

(Please refer to the total dissertation posted, especially on pages 94-96 which refer to Clinical Implications and Future Directions and Conclusions.)