Definition of Myocarditis



Myocarditis Definition

Myocarditis is a serious condition where the mid layer of the heart wall, the myocardial muscle gets inflamed. The inflammation is most often caused by virus.

Myocarditis can also be a reaction of the immune system and it can occur even after the symptoms of infection are cleared. This condition can be mild and may not show any symptoms or it may sometimes be severe and lead to chest pain and can be fatal too.

Causes of Myocarditis

Sometimes, the exact cause of the infection may not be found. But the most common causes are virus, bacteria, protozoan, fungi, parasites, toxic or illegal drugs, allergies and immune reactions.

  • Viruses like Parvovirus B19, rubella, polio, hepC, herpes, HIV, adenovirus, varicella, mumps, measles, dengue, rabies can all cause myocardial infections.
  • The inflammation of the heart muscle can stay on even after other symptoms of your infection have gone.
  • This inflammation may also be caused by the immune system which reacts even after the virus or bacteria are gone.

Symptoms of Myocarditis

The symptoms of myocarditis vary from one case to another. Sometimes, it does not show any outward symptoms and resolves itself in a short time. In some cases, the inflammation may stay on for a much longer time than the virus itself causing further complications.

The common symptoms of myocarditis are,

  • chest pains,
  • palpitations,
  • feeling of weakness in the heart muscle,
  • elevated temperature,
  • heart failure,
  • even death.

If the inflammation is due to a viral infection, the patients will also display symptoms of any normal viral infection like fever, headache, rashes, fatigue and body pains.

Treatment of Myocarditis

Since myocarditis is most often caused by a viral infection, specific drugs or treatment is not recommended. The treatment is decided based on the severity of the condition.

Mild inflammation does not require special drugs. Bed rest is often the preferred treatment with additional medicines prescribed to provide relief. If the condition is moderate, it is better to take precautions to assist cardiac functions.

The last resort to treating the inflammation in highly severe cases is heart transplant.

Myocarditis Inflammation
Myocarditis Inflammation

Tests & Diagnosis of Myocarditis

Myocarditis is a condition when the myocardial muscle of the heart wall is inflamed. The inflammation can occur as a result of other reasons like a cardiac arrest or other injuries.

  • The condition is diagnosed by various methods including the study of ECG results and biopsy.
  • The ECG waves in case of myocarditis might show T wave inversions and saddle shaped ST segment elevations.
  • The C-reactive protein levels, Erythrocyte Sedimentaiton Rate or ESR levels also help in diagnosing the myocardial inflammation.
  • Cardiac MRI scans will also show the myocardial infections. Biopsy is performed in some cases only but it gives detailed diagnosis.
  • Tissue samples of myocardium and endocardium are taken and studied.

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