What Is The Difference Between Myocarditis And Pericarditis?
Myocarditis and Pericarditis both are disorders related to the heart; the major difference in both is that myocarditis is related to inflammation in the muscles of the heart while pericarditis refers to the inflammation in the layers outside the heart muscles. However because there is an inflammation in both the cases, the body’s immune system responds to both in somewhat similar ways and tries to get rid of the inflammation and infection. Another difference between the two is that while pericarditis is less severe and may have fewer symptoms, the myocarditis is more severe and may have severe symptoms.
The site of infection in both is different so there are some anatomical differences in myocarditis and pericarditis. To know more about the differences we need to know about both the infections and their anatomy more deeply.(1)
Anatomy Of Myocarditis And Pericarditis
When there is an inflammation in the heart muscles, the condition is known as Myocarditis. In case of myocarditis the body’s immune system reacts and tries to get rid of the inflammation or infection in response to some other attack. When the body suffers from disease like rheumatoid arthritis or any other infectious disease, the immunity’s response to the inflammation is abnormally exaggerated. In case of pericarditis the site of infection is different. The inflammation is at the lining of the heart muscles, while the response of the body’s immune system is somewhat similar.
In both the cases the body’s immune system is activated and sends WBCs, like lymphocytes and macrophages to fight with the infection. When the WBCs are trying to kill the infectious cells like bacteria, fungi or virus they might also attack the heart cells, because the infection is present in the heart muscles in case of myocarditis and in heart lining cells in case of pericarditis. Toxins are released during this attack which interrupts the function of heart muscles and also the heart lining. Because of these toxins, the heart muscles are weakened and are unable to pump blood properly. Eventually the heart muscles start acting like antigens which triggers the immune response even more causing gradual damage to the heart cells.(1)
Causes And Symptoms Of Myocarditis And Pericarditis
The auto-immune and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, dermatomyositis, Kawasaki disease etc are responsible for causing infections like myocarditis and pericarditis. These may also occur due to bacterial, fungal or viral infection of the heart. The main indication in both the cases is the inflammation. The severity of the case depends on the severity of inflammation and the exact cause of the inflammation. Like for instance there are some viruses which cause only mild infection and the inflammation occur in the lining of the heart muscles i.e. pericarditis.
Pericarditis causes some fluid to collect around the lining of the heart and the patient feels a sharp chest pain, especially when lying down. Some the fluid accumulation is too much due to which the heart muscles are also affected and heart beats go irregular. This happens when the infection is bacterial rather than viral.
When the infection occurs inside the heart muscles, the condition is myocarditis. The heart muscles deteriorate even more when the body’s immune system starts attacking the virus. This also damages the heart muscles and so they become extremely weak. The heart is unable to pump blood effectively.
The severity of this case depends on the extent of heart muscles which have been damaged. Scars are formed when the extent of damage is large. This scar does not contribute in the heart pumping. Death may occur in some cases due to congestive heart failure.(1)
The major difference between myocarditis and pericarditis is that while myocarditis refers to inflammation in the muscles of the heart, pericarditis refers to the inflammation in the layers outside the heart muscles. The pericarditis may be less severe with less severe symptoms; the myocarditis may be more severe with more severe symptoms.