About the disease
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the heart. This middle layer is known as myocardium. Most common cause of myocarditis develops is viral infection. If not treated on time, it can lead to problems with electrical system of the heart. It can affect the heart muscle cells as well. In severe cases, it can affect the way heart pumps the blood. That's why it is so important to treat this condition on time. In untreated cases myocarditis, can lead to arrhythmia, the irregular heart rhythms. Myocarditis can also lead to heart attack or in severe cases even to stroke if the clot formed because of the inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall. The most common manifestation of myocarditis is chest pain. If a person notices that he/she has acute chest pain and abnormal heart rhythm, this is a medical emergency and a person needs to call ambulance immediately. If the pain in the chest is numb and recurrent, a person need to go to the cardiologist for a checkup to prevent problems which can arise with untreated myocarditis.
Although the exact cause of myocarditis has not been identified yet, viral viruses are believed to be the main contributors to this condition. Such virus as Coxsackievirus B is associated with many myocarditis cases. Bacterial and fungal infections can contribute to the development of myocarditis. Certain parasites can cause myocarditis as well. Certain drugs can contribute to development of myocarditis, if taken in big amounts. Such drugs include some antibiotics and also illegal drugs.
- Chest pain
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Shortness of breath
- Headache in some cases
- Swelling in the arms and legs if heart does not pump blood normally and if there is water retention present
- During a general examination, a doctor will inquire about the previous heart problems and also infections, which could be causing chest pain. A doctor will ask about the family history of a patient as well.
- Imaging tests, such as ECG, X-ray of the chest and MRI/CT scan are used to examine the myocardium and determine if it is inflamed. It can also determine if there are other problems with the heart which could have been causing similar symptoms.
- Echocardiography is used to measure the electrical activity of the heart and determine if the heart rhythm is normal. This test can rule out other possible causes of chest pain as well.
- Conservative treatment uses special medicines to relieve the heart pain and also normalize the heartbeat of a person. If the cause of myocarditis was infection, it is treated as well. Special drugs can relax the heart muscles and alleviate the inflammation as well. Diuretics are prescribed if there is fluid retention.
- Drainage is surgery used if there is a buildup of excess fluid in the myocardium which needs to be removed to normalize the function of the heart.