Myocarditis

What is Myocarditis?

Myocarditis is the term used when inflammation is present in the middle layer of the heart wall. The most common cause is a viral infection related to an upper respiratory infection. It can also be the result of exposure to environmental toxins, autoimmune disorders, and harmful reactions to medications. Although the chances are relatively low (about ten to fifteen percent), myocarditis has been known to be a recurrent condition, and there is no way to prevent this from happening.

Fortunately, the disease is a rare one. Most often, it affects people who are otherwise perfectly healthy. Little is known as to the reasons for this, but there is no reason to believe that myocarditis is genetic or hereditary. Prognosis varies case by case, although chronic heart failure is a common long-term complication. Severe cases can lead to damage or weakening of the patient’s heart, and this in turn could lead to irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and even sudden death.

What are the Symptoms of Myocarditis?

Each case of myocarditis differs in severity. Many times there will be no symptoms and the condition is not detected until an ECG or blood test is done.

Symptoms include

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • General discomfort
  • Heart murmur
  • Fast breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling in extremities

How is Myocarditis Treated?

Many myocarditis infections will clear up on their own without medical treatment.

Treatments include

Simple diet changes that restrict the amount of sodium intake will alleviate symptoms while the condition runs its course.

Other cases may require some form of medication. This could involve ACE inhibitors for relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure, beta blockers for slowing heart rate, diuretics for increased urine production to rid the body of excess salt, and antiarrhythmic agents to control an irregular heartbeat.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017
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