Myocarditis causes, symptoms, and treatment

Myocarditis is a rare but serious disease involving inflammation of the heart muscle, or myocardium. Myocarditis can cause damage to the heart muscle and may affect the heart’s electrical system, which can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood and cause rapid or abnormal heart rhythms

What causes myocarditis?

Most cases of myocarditis are caused by a viral infection, and it often impacts otherwise healthy people. In some cases, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, or reactions to a drug can result in myocarditis. 

What are the symptoms?

People in the early stages of myocarditis may not have any symptoms or they may have mild symptoms, such as mild chest pain or shortness of breath. In more serious cases, symptoms may include: 

  • Chest pain or pressure

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Arrhythmias (rapid or abnormal heart rhythms)

  • Swelling in the feet, legs, or ankles

What treatment options are available?

For many patients with myocarditis, the condition improves on its own or through treatment with medication to help the heart function normally. Rest is critical for a full recovery from myocarditis so that the body can adequately fight the infection. 

For patients with more severe myocarditis, medications to treat heart failure may be prescribed. When myocarditis causes severe abnormal heart rhythms, blood thinning medications may be prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots.

While some people with myocarditis recover in a few months, others may have irreversible damage to the heart muscle that requires ongoing treatment with medication or a heart transplant in the most severe cases. 

If you have symptoms of myocarditis, contact the Oklahoma Heart Hospital today to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.