Myocarditis is a rare inflammation of the heart muscle. Care is needed right away.
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In most children, myocarditis is caused by a viral infection. Other causes may be:
- Infections by bacteria, parasites, or fungus
- Problems with the immune system, such as systemic lupus erythematosus
- Taking certain medicines
- Exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals
Sometimes the cause is not known.
There are no known risk factors.
Some children may not have symptoms. This is common in babies and young children.
Those who do have problems may have:
- Weakness and lack of energy
- Muscle or joint pain
- Belly pain
- Swelling of the face, feet, or legs
- Urinating less than usual
- Problems breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the heart. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. There is no specific test for myocarditis.
A blood test or tissue biopsy will be done to look for signs of myocarditis.
Pictures may be taken of your child's heart. This can be done with:
The electrical activity of your child's heart may be measured. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (ECG) .
Emergency care will be needed. Any underlying cause will be treated.
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and promote healing. Activity will be limited. Medicines will be given, such as:
- Antibiotics or antiviral medicine to fight infection
- Medicine to suppress the immune system
- IV immunoglobulin to ease inflammation
Medicine may also be given to support heart function and remove extra fluid from the lungs or other body tissues.
There are no known guidelines to prevent myocarditis.
- Dasgupta S, Iannucci G, et al. Myocarditis in the pediatric population: A review. Congenit Heart Dis. 2019 Sep;14(5):868-877.
- Myocarditis. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/myocarditis-in-children.
- Myocarditis. Seattle Children's Hospital website. Available at: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/myocarditis. Accessed March 9, 2021.
- Myocarditis in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/myocarditis-in-infants-and-children.
- Kari Kuenn, MD
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