Autoimmune Heart Disease - Mechanism and Aetiology

Mechanism and Aetiology

These are the typical mechanisms of autoimmunity. Autoantibodies or auto-toxic T-lymphocyte mediated tissue destruction. The process is aided by neutrophils, the complement system, tumor necrosis factor alpha, etc.

Aetiologically, these are most commonly seen in children with a history of sore throat caused by a streptococcal infection. This is similar to the post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Here, the anti-bacterial antibodies cross react with the heart antigens causing inflammation.

Inflammatory damage leads to the following:

  • Pericarditis: Here the pericardium gets inflamed. Acutely, it can cause pericardial effusion leading to cardiac tamponade and death. After healing, there may be fibrosis and adhesion of the pericardium with the heart leading to constriction of the heart and reduced cardiac function.
  • Myocarditis: Here the muscle bulk of the heart gets inflamed. Inflamed muscles have reduced functional capacity. This may be fatal, if left untreated as is in a case of pancarditis. On healing, there will be fibrosis and reduced functional capacity.
  • Endocarditis: Here the inner lining of the heart is inflamed, including the heart valves. This may cause a valve prolapse, adhesion of the adjacent cusps of these valves and occlusion of the flow tracts of blood through the heart causing diseases called valve stenosis.

Read more about this topic:  Autoimmune Heart Disease

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