In 2008, Congress declared April as National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month to bring more attention to this rare, multisystem disease. Two years later, we are slowly but surely making progress, both in public awareness and in research.
Sarcoidosis causes inflammation, called granuloma, in different areas of the body. Because it can appear anywhere from the lungs to the eyes to the heart, it can manifest in a variety of symptoms, including swollen lymph nodes, skin sores, and lumps in the lungs—or no symptoms at all. With treatment, many people recover, although it can take several years. Others may have a harder time and can suffer greater organ damage. Even when symptoms subside—called remission—sarcoidosis can return. In rare cases, sarcoidosis is fatal. Researchers don’t yet know what causes it.
The NHLBI continues to support research into the basic mechanisms of sarcoidosis as well as new and improved treatments. Current projects include the construction of a genetics resource for African-Americans, who are disproportionately affected by sarcoidosis, and the investigation of the role of bacteria in sarcoidosis.