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Myocarditis


Definition:

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.

The condition is called pediatric myocarditis when it occurs in children.

Alternative Names:

Inflammation - heart muscle

Exams and Tests:

A physical exam may show no abnormalities, or may reveal the following:

  • Abnormal heartbeat or heart sounds (murmurs, extra heart sounds)
  • Fever
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Swelling (edema) in the legs or abdomen

Tests used to diagnosis myocarditis include:

Treatment:

Treatment is aimed at the cause of the problem, and may involve:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce swelling
  • Diuretics to remove excess water from the body
  • Low-salt diet
  • Reduced activity

If the heart muscle is weak, your health care provider will prescribe medicines to treat heart failure. Abnormal heart rhythms may require the use of other medicines. You may also need a device such as a pacemaker, or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to correct an irregular heartbeat. If a blood clot is in the heart chamber, you will also receive blood thinning medicine.

Rarely, a heart transplant may be needed if the heart muscle has become very weak or you have other health problems.

Outlook (Prognosis):

Your outcome can vary, depending on the cause of the problem and your overall health. Some people may recover completely. Others may have lasting heart failure.

Possible Complications:

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of myocarditis, especially after a recent infection.

Seek medical help right away if:

Prevention:

Treat conditions that cause myocarditis promptly to reduce the risk.

References:

Liu P, Baughman KL. Myocarditis. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 70.

McKenna W. Diseases of the myocardium and endocardium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 60.


Review Date: 5/13/2014
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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