Syphilis—Cardiovascular Manifestations of the Great Imitator

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Rates of syphilis are beginning to once again increase, with the World Health Organization estimating that in recent years there were 12 million new cases of syphilis each year; in 2002, syphilis was responsible for 0.3% of deaths globally. At-risk groups include young males (20–29 years), prisoners, and sex workers. Increased rates in young females have elevated the numbers of congenital cases. Review of the University of Adelaide Pathology Archive revealed four cases with significant pathology, which included cardiac gummas and aortic arch aneurysms. These cases demonstrate the cardiovascular characteristics of untreated syphilis in the tertiary stage. Cases with such advanced pathology will only occur where diagnoses have not been made, and/or standard antibiotic therapy has not been implemented in the early stage of disease.

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