• LC&VA

What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. This can lead to problems with your hearts electrical system, which results in a reduced ability to pump blood and therefore causes an abnormal heart rhythm. Myocarditis will usually be caused by a viral infection; however, it can also be as a result of a reaction to a drug or an inflammatory condition that affects the whole body.


Symptoms

If you have a mild form of myocarditis it is likely that you will not experience any symptoms and may go unnoticed. In more severe cases it is common to experience symptoms such as:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm

  • Swelling of the legs, ankles or feet (water retention)

  • Chest pain

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Body aches and joint pain

  • Fever

Causes

Myocarditis can be caused by a number of different factors, however in most cases the cause will not be identified. Although there are a lot of factors that may lead to you developing myocarditis, the likelihood of actually getting it is very low. Here are some of the more common cases:

  • Virus - some people with the common cold may develop myocarditis

  • Bacteria - a number of different bacteria can cause myocarditis

  • Parasites - certain parasites can cause myocarditis, including some that are passed on by insects. People that are traveling in tropical countries may be at a higher risk

  • Fungi - some fungi’s such as mould and yeast can cause myocarditis, especially in people that have a weakened immune system.

  • Drugs - this can be both medical and illegal

  • Other disease - people with diseases such as lupus, may be at a higher risk of developing myocarditis.

It is important that if you display the symptoms for myocarditis, you seek medical advice to ensure that it can be treated before it causes any long-lasting heart problems, such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke or arrhythmia.

Treatment

In a lot of cases, myocarditis will resolve itself over time, as your immune system will work hard to fight the source of the issue. However, for people with a more severe case of myocarditis they may have to have it treated at the hospital. Some of the most common treatment methods that are used include:

  • Corticosteroid therapy- to reduce the inflammation

  • Cardiac medication

  • Antibiotic course

The treatment method that your doctor uses will depend on the cause of the inflammation.

Prevention

To reduce your risk of getting myocarditis, it may be a good idea to follow certain measures such as:

  • Avoiding people who have a viral infection or flu like illness

  • Having a good hygiene routine

  • Getting your vaccinations

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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Photo credit Giulio Mazzarini

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