Understanding Myocarditis

The word myocardium means “heart muscle.” Myocarditis is an inflammation of the myocardium or muscle tissue of the heart. It is often a complication of various infectious diseases, such as polio, influenza, rubella or rheumatic fever. It may be brought on by exposure to radiation and certain chemicals and drugs.

Symptoms of myocarditis may include:

  • fever,
  • chest pain,
  • joint pain,
  • shortness of breath
  • and rapid heartbeat.

Diagnosing myocarditis may require an electrocardiogram, x-ray and sometimes a heart tissue biopsy.

Treatment of myocarditis depends on the underlying cause. Rest, dietary management such as salt restriction and medications to control heart rhythm may be necessary. Hospitalization is sometimes required. In severe cases where myocarditis can result in heart failure and death, a heart transplant may be the only option.

Consult your healthcare provider any time you experience chest pain or heart irregularities, especially if there is fever and fatigue. If you are recovering from myocarditis, avoid vigorous exercise and follow your cardiologist’s recommendations about diet and medication. Although recovery is a slow process requiring patience, your chances of complete recovery are good in most cases.

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