How is Heart Inflammation Diagnosed?


It’s important to recognize the symptoms of heart inflammation, as early diagnosis is critical in preventing long-term heart damage. Tests used to diagnose heart inflammation may include:

  • Heart imaging tests - A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate a precise picture of the heart. This image allows the doctor to observe the heart's size, shape, and structure. A cardiac MRI can help reveal the signs of heart muscle inflammation.
  • PET/CT scans (positron emission tomography and computed tomography) - Another type of heart imaging test that can provide detailed images of the heart and its structures. PET/CT scans can locate and show the areas affected by heart inflammation.
  • Endomyocardial biopsy - An invasive procedure used to retrieve a small amount of heart muscle tissue. This test is routinely used to determine whether a donor's heart will be rejected after transplantation. Additionally, an endomyocardial biopsy can be used as a diagnostic tool for detecting heart inflammation.
  • Heart valve tissue testing - In cases where the heart valve of a patient can be restored, the surgeon may repair a hole in the valve by grafting tissue to mend it. They may also remove or reshape excess tissue blocking the valve's ability to completely open and close. Separating fused valve flaps can increase blood flow, as well.
  • Pericardiocentesis - This procedure removes the fluid accumulated in the sac (pericardium) surrounding the heart. A small catheter and needle are inserted into the pericardium, draining the excess fluid.

How is Heart Inflammation Treated?


A cardiologist must know what has caused the inflammation before they can prescribe medication or suggest procedures for treatment. Typically, doctors look to prescribe antibiotics, heart medications, corticosteroids, or anti-inflammatory medications as their first course of treatment for heart inflammation. However, in cases of severe heart inflammation, doctors may decide that a surgical approach, such as heart rhythm devices, should be used. 

Surgical options

  • Pacemakers & defibrillators - These devices are surgically implanted under the skin in the chest to detect and manage heart rhythm problems when medication has not been successful.
  • Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) - NewYork-Presbyterian's cutting-edge techniques are designed to provide people with advanced heart failure support. Left ventricle assist devices help the heart pump blood throughout the body. Our surgeons perform the most surgeries involving LVADs in the country, with some of the highest survival rates.
  • Heart transplantation - When other heart inflammation treatments have not been successful in treating heart failure, being a candidate for a heart transplant may be a viable option for you. NewYork-Presbyterian's Heart Failure & Transplantation Program has expanded the criteria by which donor heart's acceptance is governed. This has significantly decreased our area's waiting time for heart transplant recipients. Less waiting time means better survival rates and more positive outcomes for our patients.


  • Doctors will first look towards medications that improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce fluid retention around the heart. Doctors may prescribe medication to decrease inflammation and improve pain. Possible medications include colchicine, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.



Patients describe heart inflammation as a feeling of pressure or pain in their chest. Some say they feel short of breath, have heart palpitations, or have a fluttering sensation in their heart. People can faint and lose consciousness.

Heart inflammation can be mistaken for a heart attack. If you are experiencing chest pain, don't wait--call 911 immediately. Time is of the essence when it comes to surviving a heart attack. Only a doctor can diagnose heart inflammation. After examining the heart imaging results and other necessary tests, your doctor can diagnose which type of heart inflammation, if any, is present.

Heart inflammation usually occurs because of another viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. Therefore, symptoms may not be noticed for a while. In the case of myocarditis, most issues resolve within six weeks. A patient's health before the infection significantly affects their recovery time.

Doctors will often prescribe medication to treat heart inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen are usually recommended to alleviate pain associated with pericarditis. Other inflammatory-reducing drugs, such as colchicine or corticosteroids, may also be added. Antibiotics and other heart medications may also be used to treat heart inflammation.

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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Heart Inflammation Treatment

NewYork-Presbyterian is here to help you through any heart health concerns. Our staff is among the top heart specialists in the country, and we treat the most high-risk cases of heart-related ailments. if you're experiencing heart inflammation, reach out to a medical professional today.