Malaria May Impact the Heart More Than Previously Thought

Paper emphasizes cardiovascular morbidity, mortality in patients with malaria could be underestimated due to lack of diagnostic testing, underreporting

Contact: Dana Kauffman,, 202-375-6294

WASHINGTON (Feb 22, 2021) -

Developing early detection strategies and therapeutic options for cardiovascular complications from malaria can offer important clinical tools to health professionals treating patients with the disease, according to a state-of-the-art review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Malaria, considered a tropical disease, is prevalent in the regions of Asia, Oceania, South America, Central America and Africa, where the highest mortality occurs. Malaria is caused by specific parasites and if transmitted by infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, can result in life-threatening complications. In 2018, malaria accounted for around 400,000 deaths worldwide. Although cardiac involvement has not been included as a frequent cause of morbidity and mortality from malaria, cardiovascular complications may be unrecognized and underreported due to lack of diagnostic strategies or overlap with other fatal events. Cardiovascular complications from malaria include myocarditis, pericarditis, pericardial effusion, ischemic disease and heart failure.

As part of the “Neglected Tropical Diseases and Other Infectious Diseases Affecting the Heart” (the NET-Heart Project), authors of this paper looked to review the available evidence of cardiovascular involvement in neglected tropical diseases and other infectious diseases. Analyzing 28 literature documents, they found that myocarditis is the most common cardiovascular complication of malaria. Data showed that the effects of myocarditis are often reversible by treating it with general anti-malarial drugs. However, the authors find it important to note that anti-malarial treatment regimens can have fatal cardiac side effects.

According to the authors, studies demonstrated that late detection of malaria could be frequent and deadly. The authors highlight that early detection of cardiovascular complications from malaria is critical to improve patient outcomes. They suggest strategies such as cardiac monitoring through electrocardiograms, blood testing and understanding physical symptoms for effective treatment of malaria. 

For a copy of the full study, contact Dana Kauffman at

The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its 54,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC bestows credentials upon cardiovascular professionals who meet stringent qualifications and leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC Journals, operates national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. For more, visit

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology ranks among the top cardiovascular journals in the world for its scientific impact. JACC is the flagship for a family of journals—JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, JACC: Heart Failure, JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, JACC: Basic to Translational Science, JACC: Case Reports, JACC: CardioOncology and JACC: Asia—that prides themselves in publishing the top peer-reviewed research on all aspects of cardiovascular disease. Learn more at


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