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Alternative namesInflammation - heart muscle; Cardiomyopathy
DefinitionMyocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Myocarditis is an uncommon disorder caused by viral infections such as coxsackie virus, adenovirus, and echovirus. It may also occur during or after various viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections (such as polio , influenza , or rubella ).
The condition may be caused by exposure to chemicals or allergic reactions to certain medications and it can be associated with autoimmune diseases.
Total absence of symptoms is common
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
Signs and testsA physical examination may detect a rapid heartbeat ( tachycardia ) or abnormal heart beats, abnormal heart sounds (murmurs, extra heart sounds), fluid in the lungs and fluid in the skin of the legs. In addition, other signs suggestive of an infection may be present: fever, rashes, red throat, itchy eyes, swollen joints.
Tests used in the diagnosis of myocarditis include:
Treatment includes evaluation and treatment of underlying cause. This may require use of antibiotics, reduced level of activity, and low-salt diet. Steroids and other medications may be used to reduce inflammation. Diuretics (medicine to promote removal of body water via the urine) are also given.
If the heart muscle is very weak, standard medicines to treat heart failure are also used. Abnormal heart rhythm may require the use of additional medications, a pacemaker or even a defibrillator. If a blood clot is present in the heart chamber, blood thinning medicine is given as well.
Expectations (prognosis)Myocarditis is very variable and the prognosis depends on the cause and the individual patient. Some may recover completely, while others may have permanent heart failure.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms of myocarditis occur, especially after a recent infection.
If you have myocarditis, call your health care provider (or get to the emergency room if symptoms are severe) if you experience increased swelling , chest pain , difficulty breathing , or other new symptoms.
PreventionPrompt treatment of causative disorders may reduce the risk of myocarditis.
Update Date: 7/28/2002Steven Kang, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT