Myocarditis

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the myocardium. The heart has three layers of tissue: the outer layer (epicardium), the muscular middle layer (myocardium), and the inner layer (endocardium).

The myocardium is responsible for the actual contraction and relaxation of the heart in order to pump blood throughout the body.

There are several causes of myocarditis, including infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal), diphtheria, rheumatic fever, drug or chemical poisoning, and tuberculosis.

Myocarditis Symptoms

Symptoms of myocarditis include: 

  • Abnormal heart rhythms, which can lead to fainting, joint pain, or swelling of the legs due to fluid
  • Scar tissue leading to congestive heart failure
  • Symptoms of cold or flu, including fever, chest ache, and fatigue
  • Trouble breathing

Diagnosis of Myocarditis

Myocarditis is hard to diagnose, but it can be detected. Your UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor may perform several tests to detect the condition.

The tests could include:

Biopsy of the heart muscle
To see if the heart is infected (rare)
Blood test
To see signs of inflammation and to test for antibodies against the heart muscle
Chest X-ray
To check for signs of heart failure through fluid buildup in the lungs, called pulmonary edema
Echocardiography
To see the size and cycles of the heart (weak heart muscle, enlarged heart, or fluid around heart)
Electrocardiograph
To determine the size and function of the atria and ventricles by assessing the heart rhythm
Stethoscope
To hear rapid heartbeat (called tachycardia)

Myocarditis Treatment

Treatments for myocarditis include:

  • Analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infection
  • Diuretics to remove fluid from the lungs and legs
  • Low salt diet

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a myocarditis expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.