Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and myocardium. These muscle contracts and relax to maintain the blood flow in the entire body. When the myocardium is inflamed, its function to pump blood is affected and causes an abnormal heartbeat, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. In some extreme cases, it may cause blood clots that lead to stroke, heart attack, damage to the heart, and even death. Inflammation occurs at the wound or infection site; for example, when you cut your finger, the tissues around the cut arrive at the infection site to repair, causing rapid swelling and redness. Inflammation is commonly a sign of repair by the immune system, but sometimes it causes inflammation, leading to myocarditis.
Types of Myocarditis
There are following three types of myocarditis;
- Acute: It is usually caused by a viral infection that develops suddenly and resolves rapidly. Its onset is fast and rapid.
- Chronic: It takes longer to treat this condition as the symptoms can reappear. This disease usually occurs in autoimmune disorders, where your immune system attacks your healthy cells and tissues.
- Lymphocytic : This rare form of the disease can occur during acute myocarditis treatment. It appears when the white blood cells enter your heart muscle and cause inflammation.
Symptoms of Myocarditis
Usually, it doesn’t show any symptoms in the early stage, while later on, the following common symptoms which are observed;
- Chest pain
- Body fatigue
- Abnormal or rapid heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or fainting
Signs of infection are;
- Muscles aches
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath (both at rest or exertion)
- Leg swelling
- Joint pain
- A small amount of urine
Causes of Myocarditis
Myocarditis is commonly caused by the following;
- Virus: When a virus causes myocarditis, the symptoms appear after one or two weeks of infection. The body overreacts to the viral infection and causes inflammation which can stay at heart even after the disease.
Other causes of myocarditis disease are;
- Bacterial infections, such as sore throat, chest infection, and fungal infections
- Autoimmune diseases, such as the case of lupus
- Reaction to a harmful substance, such as toxins (carbon monoxide or cocaine)
- Reaction to certain medicines or vaccines (allergies)
- Intake of alcohol
- Reaction to lead
- Spider bites
- Wasps sting
- Radiotherapy or chemotherapy
Sometimes the cause of myocarditis is unknown and frustrating. It can affect anyone at any age but is more common in males and people under 50.
Diagnosis of Myocarditis
Myocarditis can be diagnosed by;
- Blood tests check the signs of infection or inflammation, including;
- Cardiac troponin indicates damage to the heart muscle.
- C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) detect an increase in body inflammation.
- CBC or complete blood count or blood culture to check the signs of infections.
- Tests for specific conditions like hepatitis C, HIV, or Lyme disease.
- Autoantibodies test, antibodies may target your heart muscle or may be present in autoimmune disease.
- BNP or B-type natriuretic protein, increase in BNP hormone indicating heart failure.
- An electrocardiogram measures the heart’s electrical activity and detects abnormal heartbeat and rhythm.
- An echocardiogram creates an ultrasonic image of the heart to see its structural or functional issues.
- Chest X-ray shows chest anatomy.
- A heart CT scan creates a cross-sectional and detailed image of a heart.
- Heart MRI detects signs of inflammation in the heart.
- Myocardial Biopsy examines heart inflammation in which a small heart muscle is taken during a heart catheterization.
Treatment of Myocarditis
There is no curative treatment for this disease. Your doctor can cure the disorder if diagnosed by following medication-based myocarditis symptoms;
- ACE Inhibitor: Lowers blood pressure and helps to remodel heart muscle.
- Beta-blockers: Improves arrhythmias and helps heart muscle remodeling.
- Diuretics: Helps to relieve fluid congestion in your body.
- Corticosteroids: Reduces inflammation in your body.
Furthermore, a pacemaker or ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) is used to cure the disorder in severe cases. If the heart function does not improve and causes heart failure, you are recommended for a heart transplant.
Recovery of Myocarditis
Myocarditis is self-resolving in most cases, while others are recovered several months after treatment. In rare cases, the condition can recur and cause symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.