Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of heart muscles. It affects the ability of the heart to perform its normal function like pumping of the blood and others. It can occur at any age. It usually develops after an infection that travels to the heart. The infectious agents can be bacteria, virus, parasites, or fungi. There are other causes too that can trigger inflammatory changes or allergic reactions in the heart. If the risk factors of the disease are evaluated and prevented in time, then there is a possibility to prevent this disease too.
Who Is At Risk For Myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease that involves heart muscles. It affects the electrical system of the heart and function of the muscle. This impacts the pumping action of the heart and the heart is unable to pump blood. It causes abnormal heart rhythms.
Myocarditis can affect anyone at any age. It develops when infection travels from other parts of the body to the heart. It is usually caused by a virus. But there can be other reasons. It is best to prevent infections and treat them quickly to stop the chances of developing myocarditis.
Weak Immune System-individuals who have a weak immune system are at greater risk to develop myocarditis.
Illegal Drugs- illegal drugs such as cocaine may sometimes trigger inflammation of myocardium (middle layer of the heart muscle)
Medications- the medicines that are used to treat cancer, antibiotics, (penicillin, sulfonamide), diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide) or drugs prescribed for epilepsy are one of the risk factors of myocarditis. It may cause allergic or inflammatory reactions in the heart muscles leading to myocarditis.
Chemicals Or Radiations- frequent exposure to radiation or certain chemicals like carbon monoxide, lead or arsenic are risk factors that may cause inflammatory changes in the heart muscles.
Other Diseases- the people who have a disease like giant cell arteritis, lupus, Wegener’s granulomatosis, Takayasu’s arteritis are more at risk to develop myocarditis. (1)
History Of Myocarditis- those who have a history of myocarditis is more at risk to develop this disease again.
The exact cause of the emergence of myocarditis is not fully understood. The causative organism such as virus, bacteria, or others may travel to the heart that may cause infection of the heart muscles. The potential causes for myocarditis are-
Virus- herpes simplex virus (the virus that spread common cold), hepatitis B and C, Epstein-Barr virus, and German measles may cause myocarditis. The patients of HIV commonly develop this disease.
Bacteria-bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, diphtheria bacterium or tick-borne bacterium may cause myocarditis.
Parasites- parasites such as trypanosome, toxoplasma that cause Chagas disease, can travel to the heart and may cause myocarditis.
Fungi-the people who have a weak immune system may catch fungal infections such as molds, yeast infections that may cause myocarditis in some cases. (1)
The symptoms of myocarditis do not appear in most of the cases and patients do not realize that he has myocarditis. The symptoms that appear are-
- An abnormal heartbeat that may lead to fainting in rare cases.
- Shortness of breath increased more during exercises or at night during rest
- Pain in the neck or shoulders which is sharp or stabbing in nature
- Pain in the joints
- Swelling in the joints, legs or neck veins
- Decreased output of urine
Signs of infections such as-
- Muscular pain
- Soreness in the throat
- Pain in the head
If you have such symptoms, you should visit your physician and get the symptoms corrected to avoid future complications. (2)
Myocarditis is the inflammatory disease of the middle layer of heart muscles. The individuals who have weak immunity, or exposed to certain drugs or illegal drugs discussed above, exposed to certain chemicals or radiation and others mentioned above are more at risk to catch myocarditis.