Inflammatory Heart Disease, Myocarditis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prevention
Health Education

Inflammatory Heart Disease (Myocarditis)

Dr.Sameer Dani profile Authored by Dr.Sameer Dani on 6 Mar 2014 - 15:33.

Inflammatory heart disease or Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium), caused mostly due to various infections and some immune diseases. Myocardium is the middle layer covering the heart. Significant inflammation makes the heart weak and affects the ability to pump blood, leading to insufficient blood supply to various parts of the body. In severe cases, this may even lead to formation of clots resulting in stroke.


The significant causes of myocarditis are:

  • Viral infections: Viruses causing myocarditis include:
  • Coxsackie B viruses
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Herpes virus
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Parvovirus
  • · Bacteria: Diverse range ofbacteria may cause myocarditis, such as:
  • ​Chlamydia
  •  Mycoplasma
  • Streptococcal bacteria
  • Staphylococcal bacteria
  • Treponema
  • Borrelia
  •  Parasites include :Trypanosomacruzi and toxoplasma
  • ​ Fungi: Some fungal infections may also cause myocarditis. These include:
  • Aspergillus
  • Histoplasma

 Other causes:

  • Some diseases like connective tissue disorders and rare inflammatory conditions.
  • Some medications causing allergic reaction. Ex. Penicillin, sulfonamide drugs and cocaine.
  • Spider bites
  • Wasp stings, or snakebites
  • Radiation therapy

Milder form of myocarditis may not reveal significant symptoms, but moderate to severe cases (adult) present with the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the chest
  • Headache
  • Body and joint pains
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling in legs, ankles, neckor feet
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased urine output

Symptoms revealed in pediatric patients may be quite different as follows:

  • High body temperature
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Discoloration of the skin

When to call a doctor?

Consult your doctor immediately if you feel pain in the chest, even if you are too young to be suspected of myocarditis.


Prolonged myocarditis may permanently damage the heart muscle causing the following complications:

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Unexpected sudden death

Diagnosis of myocarditis involves physical examination, and certain laboratory and imaging tests.

  • Physical examination- To assess for an abnormal heartbeat, leg swelling and other symptoms.
  • Blood tests - To rule out infection, antibodies and blood cell counts
  • X-ray: To produce and examine an image of your affected heart and other chest organs
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) or Holter monitor: To produce and examine a recording of electrical activity of your heart
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound)- To produce an image of the heart and its structures so that defect and swelling can be seen
  • In rare cases magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and  heart muscle biopsies  can be performed to confirm the diagnosis

Following factors may increase the risk of developing Myocarditis:

  • Frequent movement in the crowd increases the chances of infection.
  • Unhygienic surrounding and unhealthy habits.
  • Not seeking medical care in the early stage of infection.

In most cases, mild Myocarditis may recover on its own, only severe cases need treatment to recover.Treatment of Myocarditis aims at finding the underlying cause. Treatment options include:

  • Medicines:
  • Certain antibiotics to encounter infections
  • Corticosteroids or other medications to suppress the immune system response
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: Relaxes the blood vessels in your heart and regulates easy blood flow
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): Relaxes the blood vessels in your heart and regulates easy blood flow
  • Beta blockers:Prevents heart failure and controls irregular heart rhythms
  • Diuretics: Relieves sodium and fluid retention
  • Intravenous (IV) medications to improve pumping function of heart in severe cases.
  • Surgery:
  • Implantation of temporary artificial heart to maintain normal functioning of heart.
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump - It’s a surgical procedure to inserta balloon into the aorta, which helps to increase the blood flow and decreases the workload.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): It is the procedure of increasing the oxygen content of blood using device.
  • Heart transplant in very severe cases
  • Home remedies
  • Take adequate rest
  • Avoid workload and emotional stress
  • Consume low-salt diet
  • Restrict the amount of fluid intake
  • Avoid or stop smoking

Following preventive measures can be practiced to reduce the risk of getting Myocarditis:

  • Avoiding exposure to infection or infectious person
  • Maintaining good hygiene to prevent spread of illness
  • Avoiding illegal drug abuse
  • Preventing from HIV in all possible ways
  • Avoiding exposure to ticks
  • Following recommended immunization schedule and its doses


*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.