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Alternative Names Return to topInflammation - heart muscle
Definition Return to top
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.
See also: Pediatric myocarditis
Causes Return to top
Myocarditis is an uncommon disorder that is usually caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections that reach the heart.
When you have an infection, your immune system produces special cells that release chemicals to fight off disease. If the infection affects your heart, the disease-fighting cells enter the heart. However, the chemicals produced by an immune response can damage the heart muscle. As a result, the heart can become thick, swollen, and weak. This leads to symptoms of heart failure.
Other causes of myocarditis may include:
Symptoms Return to top
There may be no symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include:
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
Exams and Tests Return to top
A physical examination may reveal the following:
Tests used to diagnosis myocarditis include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment is aimed at the cause of the problem, and may involve:
If the heart muscle is very weak, your health care provider will prescribe medicines to treat heart failure. Abnormal heart rhythms may require the use of additional medications, a pacemaker, or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. If a blood clot is in the heart chamber, you will also receive blood thinning medicine.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
How well you do depends on the cause of the problem and your overall health. The outlook varies. Some people may recover completely. Others may have permanent heart failure.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of myocarditis, especially after a recent infection.
Seek immediate medical help if you have severe symptoms or have been diagnosed with myocarditis and have increased:
Prevention Return to top
Promptly treating conditions that cause myocarditis may reduce the risk.
References Return to top
Liu PP, Schultheiss HP. Myocarditis. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007;chap 66.Update Date: 5/15/2008 Updated by: Alan Berger, MD, Assistant Professor, Divisions of Cardiology and Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.