What is myocarditis?


What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the myocardium (middle muscular layer of the heart). Often it is due to viral infection, though it is not a common condition. Inflammation can be so mild as to be hardly noticeable or very severe (fulminant myocarditis) so that the pumping function of the heart is deranged and the individual requires mechanical support for blood circulation. In between there are cases of varying severity. Myocarditis can occur secondary to other major diseases like dengue virus infection or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

What are the symptoms of myocarditis?

Mild forms of myocarditis may be asymptomatic and symptoms may be just due to an underlying disease like dengue. Viral myocarditis usually has preceding prodromal symptoms like a general feeling of being unwell, fever, fatigue or headache. Symptoms actually due to the involvement of the heart could be breathlessness, fatigue, giddiness, palpitation (undue awareness of one’s own heartbeat) or chest discomfort. In severe cases, features of heart failure like severe breathlessness, swelling of feet due to fluid collection beneath the skin (edema) or fall in blood pressure (hypotension) may occur. Such a situation needs treatment in an intensive care setting.