Myocarditis refers to the intermediate layer of the heart. This disease can affect both the muscle cells in the heart, and the functional layout of the heart, which can lead to a reduction in the pumping function of the heart and irregular heartbeat.
If the disease affects the heart muscle, the heart pumping action is weakening, which it is not able to provide the rest of the body, sufficient quantities of blood. They may appear at the time also blood clots, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
The treatment of myocarditis depends, however, on its cause.
The symptoms of myocarditis
In mild cases, myocarditis may not have any noticeable symptoms. It can appear as an inconspicuous malaise or general symptoms of virus infection, and the patient does not realize that the reason is the myocarditis.
In severe cases, the symptoms of myocarditis may vary depending on the cause of the disease. Typical symptoms may include:
- pain in the chest,
- fast heart rate or rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias)
- shortness of breath value during a resting and physical activities,
- fluid retention in the body manifested as swollen legs, ankles, and feet,
- general fatigue,
- symptoms of viral infections – headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, fever, sore throat or diarrhea.
In children, myocarditis may have additional symptoms such as fever, fainting, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, abnormal heart rhythms, and arrhythmias.
If any distressing symptoms occur, you should immediately contact your doctor.
The exact cause of the disease depends on the individual case because it did not identify a reason for which there is inflammation of the heart muscle. One can distinguish causes such as:
- viruses – some viruses may contribute to the inflammation of myocarditis due to complications of the common cold or influenza,
- gastrointestinal infections, mononucleosis, measles, AIDS – diseases that can be a potential cause of the problem,
- bacteria – the bacteria can cause some problems with the heart muscle, can be mentioned here staphylococcus, streptococcus, the bacteria that cause diphtheria and tick-borne bacteria responsible for Lyme disease,
- parasites – herein can be referred Trypanosoma cruzi and Toxoplasma, which are transmitted by insects,
- fungus – some fungal infections can attack the heart muscle, causing inflammation.
The risk of occurrence of myocarditis increasing:
- use of medications and drugs that can cause an allergic reaction or toxic reactions – penicillin-type antibiotics, sulfa drugs, some anti-seizure medications, illegal substances such as cocaine,
- exposure to chemical or radiation – exposure to certain substances as carbon monoxide and radiation can cause inflammation of myocarditis,
- other disorders – lupus, Wegener’s granulomatosis, giant cell arteritis, and the like.
Inflammation of the heart brings with it serious complications, because first of all, can permanently damage the heart muscle. The consequence of myocardial damage can be:
- heart failure,
- heart attack or stroke,
- irregular heartbeat – arrhythmia,
- sudden death.
Diagnosis and treatment of myocarditis
To diagnose myocarditis, a doctor performs a physical examination, evaluates the medical history of the patient, and assesses any symptoms. The suspicion of myocarditis requires additional tests as:
- electrocardiogram (ECG)
- chest X-ray,
- magnetic resonance imaging,
- comprehensive blood tests,
- cardiac catheterization and biopsy.
In many cases, inflammation of the heart muscle disappears by itself or due to treatment that is focused on the cause of the disease.
In mild cases, your doctor will prescribe medications to help the body fight infection, and it is recommended to rest. If bacteria are causing the infection, antibiotic therapy is needed.
Some rare types of viral myocarditis are treated with corticosteroids or other drugs having the task of suppressing the immune system. In some cases in which the disease results from a chronic illness, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, treatment is focused on this particular condition.
Often, hospitalization becomes necessary, that allows to regulate the heart rate and reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the heart. Are used many medical therapies, including ECMO. However, if the problem is severe, it may be necessary to make a heart transplantation.
An important part of the treatment of myocarditis are a lifestyle change, a significant amount of rest, which will reduce the burden on the heart, as well as adequate nutrition.