Inflammation of the myocardium or heart muscle is known as myocarditis in medical parlance. Myocarditis usually causes deterioration of the cardiac muscle ultimately resulting in the death of the muscle cells. Myocarditis generally results from a range of bodily infections including bacterial, fungal, and viral.
The white blood cells in order to safeguard the body from the aforementioned types of contagions often cause soreness or inflammation on the cardiac muscle affecting its ability to contract or expand. Efficient contraction and expansion of the heart’s muscular covering is essential for the smooth pumping in and out of the blood from the arteries.
Myocarditis when it is acute can cause the blood to clot eventually leading to heart attacks or brain strokes, and grave heart damage. The young and the old are susceptible to be affected by inflammation of the heart, and more often than not, it progresses without exhibiting signs or symptoms.
Myocarditis, very much like a cut or laceration on any part of the body, usually heals on its own enabling you to recuperate thoroughly. Sometimes myocarditis is confused with pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium) because of the somewhat similar symptoms, causes, and effects but the two conditions are different.
Causes of Myocarditis
There are different types or forms of myocarditis and the naming or terminology of the same depends upon the agent or carrier that is responsible for its causation. Following are some of the most common myocarditis types:-
- Lymphocytic myocarditis–
- Eosinophilic myocarditis–
- Automimmune myocarditis–
- Idiopathic myocarditis–
- Chronic myocarditis–
- Acute myocarditis–
- Parasitic/Fungal-Parasites and fungi including Cryptococcus, malaria, filarial, and schistosomes, and so on
- Bacterial-Some common types of bacteria like mycobacteria, clostridium, meningococci, and streptococcus might be responsible for causing myocarditis.
- Viral-Viruses that cause common cold, mononucleosis, measles and other infections often find their way to the heart causing myocarditis.
More often than not, this heart condition is not very severe and therefore its symptoms or signs are hardly tangible. The symptoms associated with myocarditis are often similar to other types of diseases or disorders that can be misleading and thereby making it difficult to diagnose myocarditis. The symptom that is very closely linked with the condition is angina or chest pain. The other signs that one usually correlates with myocarditis are indicative of the infection or contagion that triggered the condition:-
- Congestion of liver
- Shortness of breath
- Pains in the joints
- Arrhythmia or irregular
When youngsters and children suffer from the condition, the signs are not so specific:-
- Chronic cough
- Pain in the abdomen
- Lack of appetite
As it has been mentioned above, myocarditis generally subsides automatically generally without treatment. Even if you suffer from a severe type of the disease that lasts for weeks, you can expect the healing process to complete its course sooner or later thus safeguarding you from a heart failure and subsequent attack. However, prolonged exposure can weaken the muscles of the heart and damage the same but such a scenario is nevertheless a rarity.
Diagnosing and establishing that you’ve myocarditis can be a harrowing and challenging task firstly because symptoms are not always palpable. Then again, the usual signs are very much identical to other types of diseases. It is because of the cumbersome and perplexing nature of the condition that physicians and cardiologists resort to conducting a battery of tests to be doubly sure that their patients have heart inflammation.
Myocarditis is on the whole evaluated and determined by attempting to diagnose or examine irritations or twitches of the muscle of the heart. Blood tests are carried out to find out CPK levels of heart muscle enzymes and if the levels are elevated then it is a sign that the patient is suffering from myocarditis. Irregular or uneven heart beats picked up via ECG could also be suggestive of the condition. Heart scan exam (nuclear) can expose uneven areas of heart muscle and is quite helpful in diagnosing the condition. Other kinds of diagnostic exams include echocardiogram, MRI, and chest X-rays.
Adversities arising out of Myocarditis
Myocarditis in very rare instances can cause acute damage to the principal blood circulating and filtration organ of the body-the heart. The manner in which the immune system in your body deals with pathogenic viruses, bacteria and fungus can bring about inflammation that ultimately inflicts heavy damage to the heart. In order to dissuade the pathogens from entering your heart and affecting the muscular layer, the white blood cells go up to the heart to confront the pathogens and often end up causing damage to the cells of the muscles. Damaged heart cells can finally lead to failure of the heart.
However, the eventuality or possibility of your suffering a heart attack from myocarditis is a far cry. Myocarditis, in extreme cases can be a causative factor for cardiomegaly or anomalous expansion of heart, and abrupt death.
Treatment and Management
In majority of the cases, myocarditis subsides automatically without the patients having to opt for treatment. Though sometimes, the patients may remain indisposed for an extensive period where they’ve to resort to treatment that usually entails taking appropriate medicines and/or getting hospitalized. Establishing the exact underlying or fundamental cause of the inflammatory condition goes a long way in speeding up treatment and subsequent recovery. Physicians recommend patients to take one or more of the following medications so as to alleviate the symptoms as well as enable the heart to function more smoothly:-
- ACE Inhibitors
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Vasodilators (for letting the blood vessels dilate facilitating the smooth flow of blood)
Apart from the abovementioned medications, doctors advise their patients to take as much rest as possible and stick to a diet low in salt. Defibrillators or pacemakers are required when the inflammation is grave. There’s not much you can do to thwart the occurrence of myocarditis other than following a disciplined life, staying clean, and taking proper vaccinations to negate the risks of viral or bacterial infections.
Once your myocarditis heals up, chances of the same recurring are somewhat between 10-15%. On the other hand, your heart suffering serious damages in the long run is also a remote possibility.