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What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium). The inflammation of the heart muscle causes degeneration or death of heart muscle cells. Myocarditis has many different causes and can result in a range of outcomes from mild (presenting briefly and resolving) to rapidly progressing fatal disease. Myocarditis is differentiated from pericarditis because pericarditis is inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart and does not involve heart muscle like myocarditis. However, it is not unusual to have a patient present with both pericarditis and myocarditis.

There are many different types of myocarditis and a wide range of possible agents that can trigger the disease. Examples include:

  • Viral: Coxsackie B virus, enterovirus, adenovirus, influenza, and many others
  • Bacterial: Streptococci, meningococci, clostridia, Corynebacterium, mycobacteria, and many others
  • Fungal and parasites: Candida, aspergillosis, Cryptococcus, schistosomes, filaria, malaria, toxoplasma, and many others
  • Lymphocytic: Heart muscle infiltrated with lymphocytes
  • Eosinophilic: Heart muscle infiltrated with eosinophils
  • Autoimmune: Caused by autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
  • Fulminant: Inflammatory process in the heart muscle that leads to acute severe heart failure
  • Idiopathic: Inflammatory process in the heart muscle with no known cause
  • Acute: Symptoms appear rapidly and usually decrease after week or two
  • Chronic: Slow appearance of symptoms that last greater than two weeks
Return to Myocarditis

See what others are saying

Comment from: Charlie, 0-2 Male (Caregiver) Published: January 06

My son died of acute myocarditis in 1989 when he was 3 months old. His symptoms were fits and vomiting. He died 2 days after being admitted to hospital after he developed respiratory failure. In those days there was no cure for this acute type he had. I wasn't told of the cause of the virus. He was the 7th person in the world to die of this as well according to the hospital. The Berlin heart is now a treatment while awaiting transplant. He was fit and well one minute and dead 2 days later. No warning signs other than above listed ones.

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Comment from: Gary, 25-34 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 15

My healthy son was 30 years old when he started having a headache on a Friday morning. He went to work that day but came home mid afternoon and said he was very tired and still had a headache. He rested over the week end to try to get ready for work on Monday but when he did not leave for work early on Monday my wife went down to check on him and found that he had passed away during the night. It was found that he had myocarditis and the only signs were headache and tiredness for about 3 days before he passed away.

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Comment from: 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: October 08

I am a healthy and active 19 year old in college and I was just standing in my kitchen with my roommate just talking then suddenly I had a sharp pain in my chest and was dripping sweat within seconds and couldn't stand and tried holding off on going to the hospital, and once I vomited we decided to go to the emergency room. The doctors at first said it was anxiety or stress related, but I knew it wasn't it because I was calm when the initial incident happened. Once they got my blood tests back, they said I had an elevated heart attack enzyme and was taken to the ICU. I got out of the hospital within two days and was on bed rest for the next week, on heart medications, and I cannot do any rigorous actives for the next 3 weeks until my follow up. This is definitely one of the most random things that has happened to me.

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