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Heart Disease Health Center

Myocarditis

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Signs and Symptoms of Myocarditis continued...

If you have symptoms like these, your doctor will do a physical exam to check for an abnormal or rapid heartbeat, fluid in your lungs, or leg swelling.

To confirm a diagnosis of myocarditis and spot underlying causes, your doctor may order one or more tests such as:

  • Blood tests to check for infection, antibodies, or blood cell counts
  • A chest X-ray to produce an image of your heart, lungs, and other chest structures
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) to produce a recording of your heart's electrical activity
  • A heart ultrasound (echocardiogram) to make an image of your heart and its structures

Less often, doctors order cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or heart muscle biopsies to help confirm a diagnosis.

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.

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