by Mary Calvagna, MS
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart’s muscular wall, the myocardium. Although rare, it can be devastating. Myocarditis can occur with no symptoms and remain undiagnosed.
Many cases of myocarditis have no identifiable cause. This is called idiopathic myocarditis. When a cause is identified, it falls into one of three categories: infectious, toxic, or immune-mediated.
Risk Factors TOP
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
There are no known risk factors for developing myocarditis.
The symptoms of myocarditis vary from person-to-person depending on the cause and the severity. Symptoms may appear slowly or come on suddenly.
If you have any of these symptoms you should contact your doctor right away.
Sudden, intense myocarditis can lead to congestive heart failure.
Some people have no symptoms (asymptomatic).
The diagnosis of myocarditis is often difficult. There is no specific test for it. Many other causes of heart problems must be ruled out. To do this, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
The universally recommended therapy for myocarditis is bedrest, no physical activity, and supplemental oxygen. Corticosteroids may be given to help inflammation. You will most likely be admitted to a hospital.
Specific treatment is directed at the underlying cause if possible. For instance:
If heart failure symptoms are present, medications are given to support the function of the heart. These include diuretics, ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers, and antiarrhythmic agents.
Additionally, a defibrillator, which helps maintain the normal rhythm of the heart, may be implanted into your chest. Severe cases may require a cardiac transplant.
Myocarditis is hard to prevent. To help reduce your chances of getting myocarditis, reduce your exposure to identified causes. Some examples include:
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
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Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 1/14/2014