Inflammation in the muscular layer of the heart or the myocardium is termed as myocarditis. It affects heart muscles, making them inflamed, which restricts the ability to pump blood effectively.
What is Myocarditis
Myocarditis is a condition that affects heart muscles. When the heart muscles develop inflammation, this can reduce your heart’s ability to pump and cause rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). It restricts the functionality of the heart muscle.
Usually, myocarditis can result from viral infection or medication side effects. Medications can cause inflammation and be responsible for myocarditis.
Treatment can vary depending on the causes, symptoms, and severity.
What are the Symptoms?
Early-stage myocarditis does not display any signs and symptoms. It can occur at any age. The symptoms of this condition may vary depending on the causes. The common symptoms are:
- Chest pain
- Rapid or abnormal heart rhythms
- Shortness of breath, even at rest or during activity
- Fluid retention in the legs, ankles and feet
Sometimes, symptoms may be similar to a heart attack. If you are having unexplained chest pain and shortness of breath, seek emergency medical help.
What are the Causes of Myocarditis?
Usually, the causes are hard to define. The causes can be any of the following:
- Viruses: Many viruses have an association with myocarditis. The most common out of them are hepatitis B & C, covid 19 virus , adenovirus (common cold), parvovirus, echoviruses (gastrointestinal infections), Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis), and rubella virus (German measles). People with HIV are also at risk of developing myocarditis.
- Bacteria: Bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus , the bacteria responsible for diphtheria or the tick-borne bacterium that leads to Lyme disease can further lead to myocarditis.
- Parasites: Trypanosoma cruzi and toxoplasma as well as some parasites that are transmitted by insects and can cause a condition called Chagas disease.
- Fungi: Molds, yeast infections, and fungi like aspergillus and histoplasma that are found in bird droppings can cause myocarditis in humans. Fungi mainly affect people with weak immune systems.
- Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune diseases such as lupus cause inflammation in the body.
- Medications or illegal drugs that might cause an allergic or toxic reaction. These include drugs used to treat cancer; antibiotics, such as penicillin and sulfonamide drugs; some anti-seizure medications; and some illegal substances, such as cocaine.
- Chemicals or radiation. Exposure to certain chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, and radiation can sometimes cause myocarditis.
When to See a Doctor?
Visit a doctor as soon as you experience the symptoms of myocarditis. In case of chest pain, aches, breathing difficulties, visit a doctor immediately .
If you have had a viral infection or other infections, pay attention if myocarditis symptoms develop .
Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals.
Is There Any Prevention?
To prevent myocarditis, you may consider some tips. It will avoid your contact with infections and save you from further complications.
- Avoid close contact with those who have infections
- Do not take medications unless the doctor has prescribed
- Follow a hygienic lifestyle.
What are the Treatment Options for Myocarditis?
People with mild myocarditis may only need rest and medication.
- Corticosteroids. Certain rare types of viral myocarditis, such as giant cell and eosinophilic myocarditis, may improve with corticosteroids or other medications to suppress your immune system.
- Heart medications. If myocarditis is causing heart failure or arrhythmias, you may be given medications for this and to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in your heart.
- Diuretics, beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs} may also be given .
- Medications to treat chronic conditions. If myocarditis is caused by a chronic illnesses, such as lupus, treatment is directed at the underlying disease.
Surgeries and procedures
If you have severe myocarditis, you will need aggressive treatment, which might include:
- IV medications to improve your heart’s ability to pump.
- Ventricular assist devices (VAD). A VAD is a device that helps pump blood from the lower chambers of your heart to the rest of your body.
- Intra-aortic balloon pump. An intra-aortic pump helps increase blood flow and decrease the strain on your heart.
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
- Heart transplant. If you have very severe myocarditis, your doctor might recommend urgent heart transplantation.
If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, joint pain, or rapid heart rhythms, visit a doctor and prevent complications by prompt treatment .
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does myocarditis occur in children?
Yes. Myocarditis can occur in children. They may have symptoms like fever, breathing difficulty, abnormal heart rhythms, rapid breathing, and fainting.
How is myocarditis diagnosed?
Myocarditis can affect your heart function. It means an early diagnosis of the disease that affects your heart is essential. It will save you from long-term heart damage.
Doctors use the following tests to diagnose:
- ECG – Electrocardiogram
- Chest X-ray
- Blood tests
- Cardiac catheterization and endomyocardial biopsy.
Do lifestyle changes help in managing myocarditis?
Yes, lifestyle changes can help in managing myocarditis. Doctors recommend reducing the workload and pressure on your heart. Apart from medical treatment, lifestyle changes play a vital role. Doctors advise physical activities depending on your body’s requirements.
People with lingering heart damage should limit their salt and fluid intake. They should not smoke or consume alcohol.