Myocarditis is the inflammation of the myocardium, which is the heart muscle. It is not caused by lifestyle factors and there are no medical prevention methods.

Most people suffering with myocarditis recover without complications, but in rare cases when inflammation is severe, damage to the heart may occur.

CausesMyocarditis is typically caused by:

  • A viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
  • A chest infection
  • An auto-immune disease
  • In some cases, an unknown cause

SymptomsThose with myocarditis typically start experiencing symptoms one or two weeks after the initial viral illness.

These symptoms may include:

  • Stabbing pains and/or chest tightness which may spread across the body
  • Shortness of breath when lightly exercising or walking
  • Difficulty breathing when resting
  • Flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, tiredness and fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • An irregular heart rhythm

Diagnosis Tests are not always performed as a diagnosis may never be made and symptoms may resolve on their own.

If symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend:

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) to check for an abnormal heart rhythm, if you have experienced palpitations
  • An echocardiogram (echo) if your doctor is concerned there may be heart muscle damage
  • Blood tests to check for infection.

TreatmentIn prolonged cases, myocarditis can affect the heart muscle and tissue, which means it may lead to heart failure. Treatment involves close monitoring and medication, including anti-inflammatory medicines and, depending on your condition, antibiotics.

If the damage is very severe you could be considered for a heart transplant.