Myocarditis is the inflammation or infection of the heart's muscle
In this condition, the heart muscle becomes weakened and cannot
pump blood out of the heart efficiently. As a result, blood pools
inside the heart and pressure inside the heart's chamber rises.
This causes the heart muscle to become even more strained and
weakened, and in a vicious cycle can lead to serious conditions
such as heart
The symptoms of myocarditis include:
- Rapid heart beat
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
Diagnosis of Myocarditis
Your doctor would do the following tests to diagnose myocarditis:
- Physical examination with a stethoscope
A distinct sound of ventricular gallop can be heard with a stethoscope.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
A change in the heart's electrical pattern can be seen.
Heart enlargement and reduced pumping power of the heart's muscle
- Blood test
Rise in the levels of immune system's antibodies corresponding
to an infection can be shown in a blood test.
Causes of Myocarditis
The following can result in inflammation of the heart muscle:
- Viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections
Coxsackie virus infection of the upper respiratory
tract often precedes its infection of the heart muscle. Other
microorganisms that can infect the heart include Rocky Mountain
spotted fever, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis parasites, and
- Toxins produced by diphteria bacteria
- Side effects from radiation treatment for
- Side effects of medications, such as lithium,
doxorubicin, and chloroquine
- Drug use, particularly cocaine use
In many cases, myocarditis is very treatable and many patients
with this condition spontaneously recover.
The treatments for myocarditis include:
Standard in myocarditis treatment, antibiotics are used to get
rid of the underlying bacterial infection.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory medications can
be prescribed to reduce the inflammation in the heart muscle
- Heart medications
To compensate for the weakened heart muscle, medications that
improve the heart's pumping force, help regulate heart rhythms,
reduce blood pressure, and reduce excess fluid to help the heart
pump easier are often prescribed.
Myocarditis due to side effects of doxorubicin medications and
myocarditis associated with AIDS are more difficult to treat.