Myocarditis or inflammatory cardiomyopathy is inflammation of the heart muscle. This life-threatening condition may progress slowly or quickly and can result in cardiac arrest because inflammation limits the heart's ability to pump blood sufficiently. Research shows that myocarditis is the most common cardiac pathological finding in HIV patients, present in 50 percent or more of patients. Recognizing the symptoms is key to receiving a diagnosis and treatment.
Most cases of myocarditis occur in otherwise healthy adults, and rapid progression of the condition marks many cases. There are many potential causes of myocarditis including:
Often, myocarditis has no symptoms at all. If it is a mild case, a person may even recover from the inflammatory condition without ever knowing they had it.
In symptomatic cases, the most common signs and symptoms include:
As soon as a person experiences chest pain and shortness of breath, a visit to an emergency care center is in order. After getting a full report on your symptoms and history, your doctor may order the following tests:
If an underlying infection causes myocarditis, the patient will most likely first be treated for that infection. Many times, myocarditis resolves once the underlying infection is cleared. If myocarditis is severe or chronic, the patient may be given medication used to treat heart failure. They will most likely be told to rest for up to six months and will be instructed to stay on a low-sodium diet. A patient may be given medication to reduce the heart’s workload, and medication to reduce edema and swelling. In severe cases, patients may be treated with IV medications, vascular assist devices, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or even a heart transplant. Patients who have developed arrhythmia may need a pacemaker.
Myocarditis can recur, and in some cases may lead to a permanently enlarged heart. Unfortunately, because myocarditis is rare, there are no known lifestyle changes. Or medical treatments to prevent it.
Patients with acute myocarditis who rapidly recover have a very good outlook. Patients with recurring or chronic myocarditis with damage to the heart tissue are less likely to recover fully, and the prognosis declines as the damage increases. These patients may need to continue taking heart medication indefinitely or have an implanted pacemaker.
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