Cardiovascular Syphilis

Topic Overview

Cardiovascular syphilis refers to the infection of the heart and related blood vessels by the syphilis bacteria. This complication usually begins as an inflammation of the arteries. Destruction caused by cardiovascular syphilis can be life-threatening.

Complications of cardiovascular syphilis include:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, which may lead to chest pain (angina), heart attack, and possibly death.
  • Damage to heart valves that may lead to heart failure.
  • Aortic aneurysm. If a vessel becomes weak enough, it can rupture and cause death.

Antibiotic treatment cures the syphilis infection and stops the progress of cardiovascular syphilis. But the damage that has already occurred may not be reversed.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised October 8, 2013

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