Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle from any cause.
Inflammation can change the heart in many ways. It can make it weaker and affect the way it functions. Inflammation can cause certain areas of the heart muscle to die. Sometimes only a small area is affected, but serious cases may involve the entire heart.
In some cases, symptoms, such as fatigue or weakness, are very mild and not specific. Other symptoms and signs may include: sore throat, fever, or cough that begin several days to weeks before other symptoms startfatigue or dyspnea (shortness of breath)congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump the amount of blood that it receives, in this case because of a weakened heart musclechest painpalpitations, or an unusual awareness of the heartbeatrapid heartbeat, known as tachycardiaarrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeatsheart murmurs, or abnormal heart sounds
Other symptoms are generally related to the cause.
There are many causes of this condition, including: infections, usually viral, but occasionally of bacterial, fungal, or rickettsial originautoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which occur when a person's immune system attacks his or her own bodyradiation therapy, which may be given to treat cancer in the chestexposure to chemicals or drugs, such as cocaine or a medication used to treat cancer, called doxorubicinDrugs, such as certain chemotherapeutic agents, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and diuretics
Other causes are possible, and sometimes the cause is unknown.
Often nothing can prevent this condition. Avoiding exposure to drugs known to cause this condition, such as cocaine, may prevent some cases.
A healthcare provider may suspect this condition after taking a person's health history and doing a physical exam. The provider may order a variety of tests, including: ECG (a heart tracing)chest x-rayechocardiogram, an imaging test that uses ultrasound waves to look at blood flow and pressures within the heartblood cultures to check for infection in the bloodblood tests to look for heart muscle damage (troponim I)biopsy of the heart muscle, which involves taking a small piece of heart muscle for testing in the lab
Often this condition is silent, causing few or no symptoms, and goes away on its own. Most people recover completely. Rarely, a person may develop permanent congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, and damage to the heart muscle, known as cardiomyopathy.
There are no risks to others.
If an infection can be identified, antibiotics are sometimes helpful. If a biopsy of the heart muscle shows active inflammation, corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory medications maybe useful.
A variety of medications can be used to treat the complications of this condition, such as congestive heart failure and arrhythmias. In severe cases, a person may need a heart transplant to survive.
All medications have possible side effects. For instance, diuretics may cause allergic reactions, dehydration, and salt imbalances. Medications used to treat irregular heartbeats may cause other irregular heartbeats, stomach upset, or allergic reactions. A heart transplant is high risk surgery that can result in infections, bleeding, or death. However, for some persons, it is the only option for survival beyond a few days to weeks.
Most people fully recover from this condition. For some, however, heart function may get worse over time. The end result may be permanent heart muscle damage, such as dilated cardiomyopathy. In this condition, the heart muscle becomes thin and flabby, and is unable to pump blood effectively. Someone with this condition will need ongoing treatment and in extreme cases, a heart transplant.
Routine visits to a healthcare provider for monitoring of the heart's function are needed.
Merck Manual, 1999
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 1991
Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 1996