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Myocarditis

What is Myocarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation or degeneration of the heart muscle. Myocarditis may be a complication during or after various viral, bacterial, or parasitic infectious diseases, such as polio, influenza, rubella, or rheumatic fever. Myocarditis is often caused by various diseases such as syphilis, goiter, endocarditis, or hypertension, however, myocarditis may appear as a primary disease in adults or as a degenerative disease of old age.

Myocarditis may be associated with dilation (enlargement due to weakness of the heart muscle) or with hypertrophy (overgrowth of the muscle tissue). Individuals who smoke cigarettes have a higher mortality and risk of myocardial infarction than individuals who do not smoke.

In some cases of myocarditis may progress to congestive heart failure, requiring hospitalization, heart failure medications, or cardiac transplantation.

Cause of Myocarditis

Myocarditis is a caused by inflammation of the muscle of the heart. Although a variety of medical conditions can cause myocarditis, the most common cause is infection by viruses. Enteroviruses are recognized as the most common cause of myocarditis. Over many years, a chronic enterovirus heart infection and the bodys response to that infection in the heart can lead to irreversible heart muscle damage and heart failure.

Symptoms of Myocarditis

Patients with acute myocarditis and chronic myocarditis experience different symptoms. In acute myocarditis, individuals may experience fever, chest pains, a sensation of skipped heart beat (palpitations), dyspnea and fatigue. In patients with chronic myocarditis, fatigue, a sensation of skipped heart beats, shortness of breath and chest pains may be experienced.

Treatment of Myocarditis

There is no specific treatment for myocarditis. Since myocarditis may be chronic and may be present over many years, the treatment is usually based on the patients symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations).

Some cases of myocarditis may progress to congestive heart failure, requiring hospitalization, heart failure medications, or cardiac transplantation.

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