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Myocarditis

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of myocarditis. If symptoms follow an infection, myocarditis is more likely. Seek immediate medical care if your symptoms are severe. Also seek immediate care if symptoms of chest pain, trouble breathing, or swelling have gotten worse following a diagnosis of myocarditis.

Treatment for Myocarditis

If you have myocarditis, your doctor will treat its underlying cause. He or she will also try to take the extra load off your heart and take steps to prevent or control complications.

Treatment typically includes medications to help the heart function better. Examples include ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.

Your doctor will also likely suggest rest or reduced activity for at least six months and a low-salt diet to prevent fluid buildup.

You may be hospitalized if you have complications of myocarditis, such as a blood clot or weakened heart. If abnormal heart rhythms are severe, you may need other medications, a pacemaker, or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

Your outlook depends on the cause of your myocarditis, your overall health, and whether you develop complications. You may recover completely. Or you may develop a chronic, lasting condition. Regardless, follow-up care can monitor you for any ongoing heart problems. It's also important to know that myocarditis can recur, although this is not common.

Possible Complications of Myocarditis

If left untreated, myocarditis may lead to symptoms of heart failure, in which your heart has trouble pumping blood as it should. In rare cases, it leads to other problems, such as cardiomyopathy and pericarditis. Cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle weakens or the structure of the heart muscle changes. Pericarditis causes inflammation of the sac covering the heart (called the pericardium).

Myocarditis, along with cardiomopathy, are leading causes of heart transplants in the U.S.  In very rare cases, myocarditis can lead to sudden death.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on July 14, 2014

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