Myocarditis

  • Definition

    Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.

    See also: Pediatric myocarditis


    Alternative Names

    Inflammation - heart muscle


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Myocarditis is an uncommon disorder that is usually caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections that reach the heart.

    Viral infections:

    • Coxsackie
    • Cytomegalovirus
    • Hepatitis C
    • Herpes
    • HIV
    • Parvovirus

    Bacterial infections:

    • Chlamydia
    • Mycoplasma
    • Streptococcus
    • Treponema

    Fungal infections:

    • Aspergillus
    • Candida
    • Coccidioides
    • Cryptococcus
    • Histoplasma

    When you have an infection, your immune system produces special cells that release chemicals to fight off disease. If the infection affects your heart, the disease-fighting cells enter the heart. However, the chemicals produced by an immune response can damage the heart muscle. As a result, the heart can become thick, swollen, and weak. This leads to symptoms of heart failure.

    Other causes of myocarditis may include:

    • Allergic reactions to certain medications or toxins (alcohol, cocaine, certain chemotherapy drugs, heavy metals, and catecholamines)
    • Being around certain chemicals
    • Certain diseases that cause inflammation throughout the body (rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis)