Inflammation of the heart muscle can affect the hearts electrical system. This can reduce the heart's ability to pump blood or may cause an abnormal heart rhythm known as an arrhythmia.
This condition is most often caused by a viral infection but can result from numerous sources. The most common viruses associated with myocarditis are adenovirus, hepatitis B and C parvovirus, and the herpes simplex virus.
Other causes include bacteria like staphylococcus, streptococcus, and borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. Another potential cause is parasites, such as trypanosoma cruzi and toxoplasma. These parasites are sometimes transmitted by insects. Fungi can also cause myocarditis as can exposure to medications, chemicals, illegal drugs, or radiation.
Males are about twice as likely to develop myocarditis as females. Additionally, it is most common in people in their early teens through their 30’s.
Symptoms of myocarditis include chest pain, arrhythmias, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, fatigue, and more. In children, symptoms also include fever, fainting, and rapid breathing. Because many of the symptoms are common to other conditions, and because myocarditis is rare, it may take time to reach a diagnosis.
If left untreated, severe myocarditis can cause heart failure, heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death. Each of these can be fatal, so those with symptoms should seek medical attention.
Tips for avoiding myocarditis include avoiding persons with a viral or flu-like illness until they recover, following good hygiene like regular hand washing, minimizing your exposure to ticks, and staying up to date on your vaccinations.
In order to diagnose myocarditis, imaging tests are generally used. These may include an electrocardiogram, x-ray, or MRI. Blood tests are also typically performed. Rarely, an endomyocardial biopsy will be conducted.
Treatment for myocarditis will likely include an anti-inflammatory medication. Patients are also often prescribed beta-blockers or other heart medications. In addition to medications, patients are often advised to rest, restrict fluids, avoid sodium, and consume a heart-healthy diet.
The above video, from Osmosis, goes into detail about myocarditis causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.