Myocarditis is the third leading cause of sudden death in young adults. Sudden death is the unexpected death of a person due to the cessation of heart function suddenly. It happens due to persistent abnormal electrical activity of the heart that impairs the functioning of the heart leading to heart attacks and heart failure. Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the heart whose symptoms resembles that of flu. It is although not a serious disease but in some cases, it causes permanent damage to the heart. This results in sudden death from heart failure.

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Can Myocarditis Cause Sudden Death?

Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of heart muscles that develop following an infection. It affects the function of the heart by disrupting the normal electrical conductivity in the heart. It may render permanent damage to the heart. It occurs at any age. Males are more affected by this disease.

Myocarditis develops due to many reasons. In some cases, the exact cause is yet to be discovered. The known cause for this disease is an infection in the body. It can be viral, fungal, bacterial or others. These organisms travel to the heart and cause inflammation of the middle layer of the heart muscle which is known as Myocarditis. It may impair the flow of electrical impulse in the heart leading to other heart problems.(2)

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Some allergic reactions to certain medicines like penicillin, diuretics, and others can also cause inflammation in the heart muscles. Exposure to industrial chemicals or radiation or illegal drugs may induce the heat to inflame. Autoimmune reactions in the body can also trigger such inflammation.

Myocarditis remains undetected as most patients cannot recognize its symptoms. Mild Myocarditis many times goes on its own without rendering any damage to the heart and medical care. The people who experience the symptoms of Myocarditis represent flu-like symptoms such as rise in body temperature (fever), body pain, muscular pain, coughing, fatigue, and shortness of breath. In severe and neglected cases, Myocarditis may cause sudden death due to cardiac arrest or cardiac failure.

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Sudden death means a sudden and unexpected loss of life. It occurs to the sudden failure of the heart to perform its basic function. About 70 % of sudden death occurs due to heart diseases particularly coronary heart disease.(1)

Myocarditis is one of the main causes of sudden death in young people. It is often reported that young athletes die suddenly during physical activities or athletic training. They may have inherited heart disease or a recent history of infection. The risk of sudden death in Myocarditis is high during exercises or after 30 minutes of strenuous exercises. This risk is quite low in those who have a habit of regular exercises. In people with inherited heart disease, exercises of any time can increase the risk of sudden death in them if they develop Myocarditis.

Caffeine also elevates the risk of sudden death in the patients of Myocarditis. However, there is no research study that can prove this fact. There is also no way to detect sudden death in Myocarditis as it is insidious. If the people who are at high risk can be benefited from the tests such as stress test or ECG monitoring at regular intervals and they can be given specific medical care if such health problems are detected.(1)

Management of high cholesterol, hypertension, avoidance of smoking and alcohol with a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activities can reduce the risk of sudden death. It also decreases the risk of other heart problems that can cause sudden death.

Conclusion

Myocarditis resembles flu-like symptoms and often the patient does not realize that they may have this disease and perform strenuous activities. Most of them have sudden death due to Myocarditis. It happens during strenuous physical activities due to heart failures or heart attacks. Myocarditis is the leading cause of sudden death in young adults that cannot be avoided.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: May 22, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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