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What is myocarditis?

It describes inflammation of the heart muscle. The most common cause of myocarditis is viral infection. It can occur suddenly or slowly over weeks.


What are the symptoms?

A couple of weeks after a viral infection, symptoms of chest pain, breathlessness, fatigue, palpitations or fainting should be considered as warning signs of underlying myocarditis. Sometimes, patients may be diagnosed incidentally during investigations for other reasons.


What are its causes?

Viral infection is the most common cause. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, myocarditis was detected in relation to infection. The viral infection rarely causes inflammation of the heart, more commonly, the body’s own immune system overreacts in fighting the virus and causes damage to the body itself.


How is myocarditis diagnosed?

A good history and tests such as ECG, echocardiography and cardiac MRI provide a reasonably good diagnosis of myocarditis.


How is it treated?

Myocarditis is treated with bed rest, anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes needs medications to aid the heart muscle (inotropes). With severe myocarditis, there could be sudden cardiac death or severe scarring of the heart muscle and would need to follow up with heart failure team.

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