Myocarditis occurs when your heart muscles (myocardium) become inflamed. Your symptoms may appear rapidly or gradually, and they could be mild or severe. Without treatment, myocarditis may cause permanent heart damage.
If you need help with myocarditis symptoms, you can depend on receiving compassionate and expert care from Laura Fernandes, MD, FACC, at Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute. Dr. Fernandes has years of experience getting to the source of your symptoms, identifying myocarditis, and providing personalized treatment.
Discover why myocarditis develops
An infection or underlying health condition can cause heart muscle inflammation. Sometimes, we can’t identify the cause.
Viral infections are one of the top culprits. When a virus causes myocarditis, the condition often develops rapidly, causing sudden, acute symptoms.
While heart conditions are often associated with increasing age, viral myocarditis may affect healthy young adults.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for COVID-19 can cause myocarditis. You can also develop heart muscle inflammation if you’re infected with viruses that cause the common cold, hepatitis B and C, rubella, herpes, and gastrointestinal infections.
Fungi, parasites, and common bacteria like staph and strep can also lead to a heart muscle infection.
Myocarditis arising from a health condition or medication typically develops gradually. Problems leading to myocarditis include:
- Certain medications (antibiotics, blood thinners, diuretics, antiseizure meds, and others)
- Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors
- Autoimmune conditions (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, giant cell arteritis, and others)
Without treatment, myocarditis can progress to cause serious heart conditions, including irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), pericarditis (inflamed sac surrounding the heart), and heart failure.
Learn your risk for myocarditis
Your risk of developing myocarditis increases if you have any of the following:
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic infections
- Eating disorders
- Poor dental health
- End-stage kidney disease
- Family history of heart conditions
- Heavy alcohol use
Your chances for myocarditis also increase if you undergo cancer treatment or take the medications listed above.
Identify myocarditis symptoms
Inflamed heart muscles have a hard time contracting and pumping blood through your heart and out to your body, causing symptoms such as:
- Chest pain and discomfort
- Racing, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of your legs, ankles, and feet
You could also have flu-like symptoms, including body aches, joint pain, fever, sore throat, and headache.
If you have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or your symptoms rapidly worsen, you could be having a heart attack. Call 911 immediately to get emergency medical attention.
Seek medical care
We specialize in diagnosing heart conditions like myocarditis, providing rapid and convenient access to essential tests in the office, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and echocardiograms. We may also run blood tests and other diagnostics like a cardiac MRI, if necessary.
After diagnosing myocarditis, we create a customized treatment plan to restore your heart health and prevent future complications. However, your long-term health depends on the severity of the infection and inflammation.
Most people fully recover from a mild case of myocarditis. If the inflammation causes permanent muscle damage, you’ll need to keep taking medications and have regular checkups to monitor your health.
The type of medication you need depends on variables like whether fluids build up, an arrhythmia develops, or you have an autoimmune disease.
We may recommend an interventional (minimally invasive) procedure to implant a pacemaker, a cardioverter defibrillator, or a device that helps your heart pump blood. In the most severe cases, you may need heart surgery or a heart transplant.
Call Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute immediately or request an appointment online if you need help with symptoms of myocarditis.