What is Myocarditis?

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Myocarditis is a rare ailment caused by a virus or an immune response that is self-directed in persons who have autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis where their immune system tends to attack the body. In some cases, autoimmune conditions can affect the heart leading to myocarditis. Some uncommon cases are associated with various infections, adverse reactions by drugs, toxic injuries as well as cancer. Majority of myocarditis cases do not have symptoms and are identified through blood tests sense heart injury or through electrocardiogram. Since myocarditis is a rare condition, there is no known way to treat or diagnose the disease though research is ongoing.

Causes of Myocarditis

Myocarditis may be caused by various viruses. However, most ailments are associated with infections in the upper respiratory tract. In rare cases, contagious ailments such as the Lyme disease can cause myocarditis. Rarely does this disease result from exposure to poisonous agents such as toxins from metals, spider or snake bites or through use of cocaine. In most situations, myocarditis is not infectious and there is no risk of infecting family members that is known.

Signs of Myocarditis

The major signs of myocarditis include shortness of breath due to exertion or exercise. In most cases this develops between seven and fourteen days of exposure to the virus. It may develop to patients experiencing shortness of breath particularly at night requiring them to sit up in order to breath. Other major signs include heart palpitations, fatigue, chest pressure or pain. Patients also experience swelling of legs. In rare cases myocarditis my lead to abrupt loss of consciousness due to irregular heart rhythms. Patients can experience all or some symptoms such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and abrupt loss of consciousness. However, a patient may fail to show any of these symptoms making it hard to diagnose myocarditis.

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