Myocarditis, Adult

ExitCare ImageMyocarditis is a swelling (inflammation) of the heart muscle (myocardium). When the heart becomes inflamed, it cannot pump as well. Severe cases of myocarditis can cause heart failure.

CAUSES

It is usually caused by a viral infection, although other causes are possible.

SYMPTOMS

Mild cases of myocarditis may not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Chest pain.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Fast or abnormal heart rhythms.

  • Fatigue.

  • Fluid retention or swelling in the feet or legs.

  • Fever.

  • Body aches.

  • Fainting.

DIAGNOSIS

Myocarditis can be hard to diagnose because it can mimic other diseases. Myocarditis may be suspected if the above symptoms have appeared after a recent infection. A physical exam and other tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Some of these tests are:

  • Blood tests to check for signs of infection or heart damage.

  • Electrocardiography that shows your heart's electrical patterns and rhythms.

  • A chest X-ray exam to look at your heart and lungs.

  • Echocardiography or other imaging tests to look at how well your heart is working.

  • Your health care provider also may recommend a heart (cardiac) catheterization. In this test, a flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel then threaded into the heart. A special instrument can then remove tiny samples of heart muscle tissue (biopsy). The samples are sent to a lab for analysis.

TREATMENT

Treatment of myocarditis is aimed at treating the underlying cause and may involve:

  • Heart medicine such as beta blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These help strengthen the heart and help it beat more regularly.

  • Diuretic medicine. Extra fluid in the body can make the heart work harder. Diuretic medicine can help get rid of the extra fluid.

  • Steroid medicine. In some cases of myocarditis, steroid medicine is used to reduce swelling.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these discharge instructions.

  • Will monitor your condition.

  • Will seek immediate medical care if necessary.