Myocarditis is a term used for the inflammation or swelling of the myocardium, which is a heart muscle. Myocarditis interferes with your heart’s electrical system. This may be responsible for reduction in the heart’s ability to pump the blood and also cause serious arrhythmias.
Can You Die From Myocarditis?
A mild form of myocarditis is generally not dangerous. However, moderate to severe cases can lead to certain complications, which can prove to be dangerous and even fatal. In some of the cases, myocarditis can result in a permanent damage to the heart. This may need a lifelong medical attention. Sudden death can occur as a result of dangerous arrhythmias caused by myocarditis. These arrhythmias need treatment on an emergent basis and can prove fatal otherwise. The good news is that a condition like myocarditis is quite rare.(1)
Other complications of myocarditis-
- If myocarditis is left untreated, it can damage the muscles of your heart to an extent that it cannot pump blood normally and effectively.
- When gone to serious levels, there may be a cardiac failure, which may need a heart transplant or a ventricular assist device.
Cardiac Arrest Or Stroke-
- If the heart muscle gets weak and cannot pump the blood effectively out of the heart, the blood that gets accumulated in your heart can result in formation of clots
- If these clots block your arteries, you may get a heart attack.
- If these clots or even one of them, travels to your brain through the arteries and gets lodged there, you may get a stroke
Impairment of your heart muscle can lead to significantly dangerous arrhythmias
- These serious arrhythmias can lead your heart to stop beating.
- This may prove to be dangerously fatal and can result in a sudden cardiac death(2)
Symptoms Of Myocarditis
Mild or early stages of myocarditis may or may not exhibit any symptoms. The symptoms are usually mild in early or beginning stages of myocarditis. In severe cases of myocarditis, signs and symptoms vary in severity and it largely depends upon the underlying cause of myocarditis
General signs and symptoms of myocarditis are-
- Pain in the chest
- arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms
- Difficulty in breathing or dyspnoea during physical activity or at rest, depending upon the severity of the disease
- Water retention resulting in a swelling of legs, ankles and feet
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue
- Other symptoms of viral infection like body ache, joint pain, fever etc.
In children, signs and symptoms may include-
- Dizziness or fainting
- Difficulty in breathing
- Abnormally fast breathing
- Arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms(2)
Causes Of Myocarditis
Most times, the cause of myocarditis is not known. There are many probable causes, but myocarditis is a fairly rare occurrence. Probable causes may include-
- Many viruses may cause myocarditis. These may include viruses causing flu, hepatitis B and C, herpes simplex virus etc.
- Myocarditis is also commonly seen in people with HIV and AIDS
Bacteria like staphylococcus, streptococcus and the bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease are a few examples from a wide range of bacteria that can cause myocarditis
Many parasites like toxoplasma etc. can be responsible for causing myocarditis
- Fungal infections like candida, molds, histoplasma etc. can also cause myocarditis sometimes
- This is often the case in people who have a weak or compromised immune system(2)
Mild forms of myocarditis often get better on their own or with some treatment. Lifelong implications of the disease are generally not seen in most cases. However, in some moderate to severe cases, the disease may cause some serious damage to the heart and prolonged or lifelong treatment and monitoring may be needed. Sudden death in myocarditis may occur due to dangerous arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms. However, though the probable causes of myocarditis are many, a condition like myocarditis is quite rare in occurrence.