Myocarditis

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Overview of Myocarditis

Myocarditis is characterized as inflammation of the heart tissues. The inflammation lead to damage and destruction of heart tissue and its activity is compromised. In US, thousands of people are diagnosed with myocarditis, every year. It is a fatal disease and can cause sudden death. Heart pumps the blood and ensure adequate and constant supply of blood throughout the body. Defect or inflammation of the heart tissues lead to serious consequences as oxygen supply to the organs is halted. About 20% of cases of immediate or sudden death have been found to be linked with myocarditis.

Causes and Risk factors of Myocarditis

There are different causes of myocarditis. They include

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Drug side effects
  • Environmental toxins, heavy metals (iron, copper etc.)
  • Viral infection, especially of upper respiratory tract
  • Bacterial infection
  • Cancer

Certain autoimmune disorders (Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid arthritis Kawasaki disease, Sarcoidosis) attack the tissues of the heart and lead to irreversible damage of heart muscles. The heart becomes weak over time and blood pumping ability of heart is weakened. Lyme disease (bacterial infection caused by tick bite) and Scarlet fever (Streptococcus infection) has also been associated with damage and inflammation of heart tissues. Certain viruses including adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, herpesvirus, have been found to cause myocarditis. Bacterial infection caused by H. influenzae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Vibrio cholera can lead to damage of heart. The notorious fungus, Aspergillus can infest the tissues of the heart and cause myocarditis.

Signs and Symptoms of Myocarditis

The symptoms of myocarditis are severe and include difficulty breathing, especially upon exertion or exercise, palpitations, swelling in feet, legs or ankles, weakness, headache, pain in joints, abnormal or irregular heartbeat, pain and discomfort in chest, fatigue, blueness of peripheral parts including hands and feet due to lack of adequate blood supply, unconsciousness, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, anxiety and malaise.