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What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the myocardium, the thick muscular layer making up the major portion of your heart. The condition can result in vague chest pain, an abnormal heartbeat, congestive heart failure and other signs and symptoms. The myocardium is the muscular wall of the heart, or the heart muscle. It contracts to pump blood out of the heart and then

relaxes as the heart refills with returning blood. The myocardium's smooth outer membrane is called the epicardium. Its inner lining is called the endocardium.

When this uncommon condition is severe enough, the pumping action of your heart weakens and your heart is unable to supply the rest of your body with enough oxygen-rich blood. Clots can form as well, potentially leading to a stroke or heart attack.

Myocarditis may develop as a complication of an infectious disease, usually caused by a virus. It can occur in people of all ages and is diagnosed more often in men than in women. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Many cases are attributed to ‘auto-immunity’, a condition in which the body reacts against itself. This is similar to what can happen in some cases of thyroid disorders and a variety of other diseases. Auto-immune myocarditis may be triggered by a virus infection such as the Coxsackie B virus. There is often a two week delay between contracting the initial virus and inflammation of the heart muscle.

More information on myocarditis

What is myocarditis? - Myocarditis is an inflammation of the myocardium, the thick muscular layer making up the major portion of your heart.
What causes myocarditis? - Myocarditis can be caused by a variety of conditions such as a virus, sarcoidosis, and immune diseases, pregnancy, and others.
What're the symptoms of myocarditis? - The symptoms of myocarditis depend on the cause and severity. Myocarditis is often associated with pericarditis.
How is myocarditis diagnosed? - Myocarditis can best be diagnosed by examining a small piece of heart muscle under a microscope.
What's the treatment of myocarditis? - Treatment of myocarditis depends on the cause and severity. Current treatment of myocarditis mainly involves alleviating heart failure.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005