What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the myocardium, which is the heart muscle. It is usually caused by some underlying illness. However it can also be caused by injury, radiation therapy or a toxic reaction to drugs.

Myocarditis can affect people of all ages.

What illnesses or diseases cause myocarditis?

The diseases associated with myocarditis include almost every infectious, viral, bacterial and parasitic disease known. Everything from influenza to measles, to gonorrhoea can cause myocarditis.

What are the symptoms of myocarditis?

Symptoms can depend on the underlying cause. However they may include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Palpitations (an awareness of the heartbeat).
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).
  • Swelling.
  • Chest pain.

Can myocarditis be prevented?

Sometimes. You can prevent some of the underlying causes, thereby preventing myocarditis. For example as measles can lead to myocarditis, ensure you are properly immunised against it.

Does myocarditis always have to be medically treated?

No. Because most people with this condition show no symptoms, they don't realise they have it and therefore don't get treatment for it.

In many of these cases, the myocarditis will clear up on its own.

What are the possible complications of myocarditis?

Myocarditis can cause acute pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart), blood clots, stroke, permanent heart muscle damage and arrhythmias (irregular heart beat). In some cases, these arrhythmias can be fatal if left untreated.

In some rare cases, a person may even develop heart failure.

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