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Chagas heart disease: Treatment and prognosis

J Antonio Marin-Neto, MD, PhD, FACC
Marcus V Simões, MD
Andre Schmidt, MD, PhD
Anis Rassi, Jr, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA, FACP
Section Editors
William J McKenna, MD
Peter F Weller, MD, MACP
Leonard I Ganz, MD, FHRS, FACC
Deputy Editors
Susan B Yeon, MD, JD, FACC
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Chagas disease (CD) is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan parasite that can cause acute myopericarditis as well as chronic fibrosing myocarditis. Chagas myocarditis is the most common cause of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy in Latin America [1].

The treatment and prognosis of Chagas heart disease will be reviewed here. Other issues related to CD, including clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Chagas heart disease and noncardiac manifestations, are discussed separately. (See "Chagas heart disease: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis" and "Chagas disease: Pathology and pathogenesis" and "Chagas gastrointestinal disease" and "Chagas disease: Antitrypanosomal drug therapy".)


Overview of phases — The natural history of Chagas disease (CD) has been divided into acute and chronic phases. Cardiac involvement and prognosis in the acute phase of T. cruzi is discussed separately. (See "Chagas heart disease: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis".)

In the chronic phase, two well-defined forms of disease are distinguished: indeterminate (latent, pre-clinical) and determinate (clinical), which is subdivided into cardiac, digestive, and cardiodigestive forms. The indeterminate form has been defined as a form of chronic T. cruzi infection in which anti-T. cruzi antibodies are present but no signs or symptoms of Chagas cardiomyopathy or gastrointestinal involvement are identified. Various criteria have been proposed to define the indeterminate form, as discussed separately. (See "Chagas heart disease: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis", section on 'Definition'.)

About one-third to one-half of patients with the indeterminate form develop chronic cardiomyopathy after a latent period ranging from 5 to 30 years. Chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCC) is a cause of heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias and thromboembolism.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 04, 2016.
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