How is Myocarditis Diagnosed?
Early diagnosis of myocarditis may prevent long-term damage to the heart. There are multiple tests and procedures available to confirm a diagnosis, including:
- Blood Tests - conducted to check for indicators of heart damage as a result of a heart attack, infection, or inflammation. This may include cardiac enzyme tests to detect proteins associated with heart damage, and antibody tests to search for signs of infection.
- Electrocardiogram - to detect and monitor the electrical signals generated by the heart. Sensors are attached to the skin so that doctors can see the pattern of your heartbeat to determine if there are any irregularities such as an arrhythmia, which is commonly associated with myocarditis.
- Chest X-ray - allows doctors to view the size and shape of the heart and lungs as well as any buildup of fluid that may affect heart function
- Echocardiogram - uses high frequency sound waves to view a moving image of your heart to evaluate its structure, blood flow, fluid buildup or other irregularities associated with myocarditis
- Heart MRI - creates a detailed image of the heart by generating a magnetic field and radio waves to determine if there are any signs of heart inflammation or damage
- Cardiac catheterization and biopsy - using a catheter, dye is pumped through the body to generate a clear image, or to collect a small sample for analysis in a lab
These tests and methods can be used to confirm a diagnosis of myocarditis, as well as various other heart-related conditions.
How is Myocarditis Treated?
With treatment, myocarditis will usually go away quickly. There are various medications that can help treat this condition and its symptoms, as well as surgical options and other procedures for more severe cases.
- Corticosteroids - used to decrease inflammation and suppress your immune system, this medication closely resembles the hormone, cortisol
- Heart Medications - such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBS), diuretics, and beta blockers may be prescribed for arrhythmias or heart failure to help reduce stress being placed on the heart
- Other Medications - for underlying or chronic, or related conditions caused by infection or other factors
- Intravenous Medications - such as immunoglobulin to reduce inflammation and assist your heart’s ability to pump blood
Procedures and Surgical Treatments
- IABP - also known as an intra-aortic balloon pump. A doctor feeds a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into a blood vessel and guides it to the heart. A small balloon at the end of the catheter is inserted into the aorta (the main artery that carries blood out of the heart), which inflates and deflates as the heart contracts, to increasing blood flow and reduce stress being placed on the heart.
- ECMO - also known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, this involves pumping blood to a heart-lung machine to remove carbon dioxide from the blood and return oxygenated blood back into the body. This can be used to assist your heart and lungs in delivering oxygen to your tissues.
- VAD - a ventricular assist device, assists a weak or failing heart by pumping blood from the lower chambers of the heart to the rest of the body. This can be used to reduce the strain on the heart while a patient awaits other treatments or procedures, including a heart transplant.
- Heart Transplant - this option is often reserved for individuals with severe case that have caused serious heart damage and other treatment methods were ineffective.
Myocarditis is not permanent and it will go away with treatment. However, severe cases of myocarditis may cause permanent damage to the heart muscle, resulting in complications such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke, heart arrhythmias, or sudden cardiac death. Long-term medications may be prescribed to either treat these conditions or reduce your risk.
Myocarditis usually goes away quickly with treatment. There are cases of chronic myocarditis in which treatment takes longer than usual or symptoms reappear after treatment. Autoimmune disorders can cause chronic myocarditis, as the body’s immune cells continue to attack healthy tissue, leading to chronic inflammation.
Myocarditis usually lasts less than a month. It often resolves itself or goes away quickly with treatment. Recovery time can last weeks or months after treatment, and doctors may recommend to avoid strenuous exercise and activity to give the heart tissue time to heal.
In many cases, myocarditis does not cause any symptoms, but some people with myocarditis experience general feelings of illness, such as headaches, sore throat, fever, body aches, or fatigue. Other people feel tightness, discomfort, or pain in their chest, or a rapid or fluttering heartbeat. Learn more about myocarditis symptoms.
Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Myocarditis Treatment
At NewYork-Presbyterian, our experienced team of heart care specialists provide comprehensive care for myocarditis and its symptoms. We offer the latest diagnostic testing and approaches to treatment. Schedule an appointment today to learn about our approach to myocarditis care and to avoid complications. NewYork-Presbyterian also offers heart inflammation treatment and care services for pericarditis and endocarditis.