Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout
About Your Diagnosis
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. It is caused by an inflammatory response to an injury or infection. It may be caused by radiation or side effects of some medications. Most commonly it is caused by a virus, even the virus that causes the common cold. Chest pain, difficulty breathing, fever or chills, inability to exercise, or feeling fatigued and run down much of the time are some of the early symptoms of myocarditis. The chest pain is from fluid collection in the lining of the heart. Some patients have a rash or joint pain (arthritis) related to rheumatic fever (from previous streptococcal infection) or other infection that can cause the myocarditis. Abnormal rhythms in the electrical activity of the heart (arrhythmias) may result from irritation of the heart muscle. This may cause a rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
or lead to heart failure (the heart does not pump blood efficiently). Myocarditis is detected through findings at a physical examination or on an EKG. Laboratory tests may be performed to help find the cause. Biopsy of the heart muscle sometimes is needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Rarely are additional tests needed. Symptoms generally clear up with rest and time. Avoid strenuous exercise until the condition has completely cleared. Exercise increases the work of the heart, and this may cause the inflammatory reaction to worsen rapidly and may cause dangerous heart rhythm disturbances.

Management of chest pain and arrhythmias is most important. If heart failure occurs, treatment of this disorder is needed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to manage the inflammation and ease the chest pain. In more severe instances, steroid-containing medications or immunosuppressive drugs are used. These medications can cause severe stomach and intestinal irritation and may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
These drugs must be taken with food. They are to be avoided by patients with a history of ulcers or reactions to these medicines. Aspirin is used to manage fevers and joint pain. Antibiotics are given for acute rheumatic fever or other infections.
The DOs
•Take your medications as prescribed to manage symptoms and infections.

The DON’Ts
•Avoid exercise until your ECG is normal and you have clearance from your doctor.

When to Call Your Doctor
•If you cannot tolerate your medicines or have a reaction to them.
•If you have new or worsening chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting
•If you notice blood in your vomit or stools.