Understanding Myocarditis

Myocarditis is a serious type of heart disease that requires close monitoring by cardiologists. Thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with this condition each year. Although myocarditis is relatively rare, it is important to be informed about the symptoms so you can see a heart doctor for evaluation if they appear. Here is what you need to know about this condition.


Myocarditis is a type of inflammation of the heart that leads to muscle damage. It is usually caused by a virus, such as a respiratory infection, or an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Occasionally, it is triggered by cocaine use, exposure to toxic metals, or venomous snake or spider bites. Most people who get myocarditis are otherwise healthy and don’t have other heart conditions. It can occur at any age and is a leading cause of sudden death in young patients.


The first and most common symptom of myocarditis is shortness of breath, usually after exertion. Typically, the shortness of breath will progress until you have difficulty breathing while lying down at night. Leg swelling, fatigue, heart palpitations, and chest pain may also occur, as can unconsciousness and lightheadedness. Some patients have severe symptoms while others experience few, if any, signs of the disease. If myocarditis is caused by an infection, symptoms usually occur seven to 14 days after the initial infection.


If you are diagnosed with myocarditis through an ECG, x-ray, MRI, or heart biopsy, your heart doctor will treat you with medications, and in some cases, implantable devices such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. Most people recover from myocarditis with no long-term side effects, but some patients experience chronic heart disease and require ongoing treatment and even a heart transplant.

If you experience heart disease symptoms, make an appointment for a consultation at Cardiac Solutions. Our cardiologists near Phoenix treat a range of conditions and can help you manage your heart health. For more information about our services and cardiologists, please call (623) 876-8816.

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