A heart muscle inflammation or myocarditis is a disease of the heart. This inflammation of the heart muscle can be both chronic and acute. A heart attack can have severe physical consequences without treatment and should therefore be treated by the doctor.

What is a heart muscle inflammation?

While heart muscle inflammation is often a serious condition, it is not so easy to diagnose, because in many cases, no or only nonspecific symptoms occur.
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In myocarditis, also known as myocarditis in the medical term, inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium occurs. If the pericardium is also affected, however, the physicians speak of perimyocarditis. However, when diagnosing it is often difficult to separate the two diseases.

The heart muscle inflammation leads to the disturbance of the contraction ability of the heart. This leads to a drop in physical performance or even heart failure. This inflammation is also known, in some cases, as the cause of sudden cardiac death.


Heart muscle inflammation is most commonly caused by viruses in Western countries. The best known here is an infection with the coxsackie B virus. This often occurs as a cause of colds and meningitis. An untreated influenza infection or gastrointestinal influenza can also lead to myocarditis.

Especially if the illness is not properly cured and the person expires too early physically, such as in endurance sports. A bacterial disease can also lead to heart muscle inflammation. Here are the most common diseases diphtheria, scarlet fever and Lyme disease. This is a tick-borne disease.

In rare cases, the heart muscle may also become infected after infection with fungi, parasites or unicellular organisms, such as toxoplasmosis. Heart muscle inflammation due to autoimmune disease, radiotherapy or the use of drugs or drugs is less common, but quite possible.

Symptoms, complaints & signs

While heart muscle inflammation is often a serious condition, it is not so easy to diagnose, because in many cases, no or only nonspecific symptoms occur. These nonspecific complaints may also indicate other illnesses. So many sufferers complain about general performance weakness and fatigue.

However, when exhaustion conditions increase and at the same time respiratory distress occurs with the least effort, this is considered a serious warning sign of possible myocarditis. These symptoms are often accompanied by loss of appetite, weight loss, headache and body aches. In some people, direct heart symptoms such as palpitations, tightness of the chest (angina pectoris) or even heart stumbling are common.

Cardiac arrhythmias such as tachycardia or uncoordinated heartbeat often increase. Increasingly reduces the physical performance. Even young people then have more difficulties in climbing stairs and all other activities. In severe cases, cardiac insufficiency is the result of water retention in the body, severe respiratory distress and visible stasis of the jugular veins.

However, the serious cases of heart muscle inflammation are rare. Sometimes even mild or no complaints occur. In other cases, however, even after a trivial influenza infection to an acute myocarditis, which develop very quickly and can lead to severe heart failure within a short time. Sometimes saving the life of the affected patient is only possible with a heart transplant.


The course of myocarditis or myocarditis can be very different.

There are problematic courses of the heart muscle inflammation with only very weak symptoms, but also severe cases. These can even end in death. At the beginning, the person concerned first notes a general weakness, which is also noticeable in daily activities.

This can cause a rapid fatigue, as well as weight loss. Also, body aches occasionally appear as a symptom of heart muscle inflammation.

Furthermore, it can lead to so-called heart stuttering, palpitations or chest pain. Depending on the severity of the illness, even simple physical activities may cause shortness of breath or even shortness of breath.

If the function of the heart is already limited by the heart muscle inflammation, accumulations of water in the legs or the lungs form. Even a chronic course is possible. This enlarges the heart muscle, but loses its ability to contract.


Heart muscle inflammation is a very serious disease, which in the worst case can lead to the death of the patient. Inflammation reduces life expectancy if not treated promptly. Patients suffer from severe heart complaints. As a rule, pain in the area of ​​the heart occurs and the heart beats faster than usual.

Similarly, the person feels weak and is no longer resilient in the ordinary way. Ordinary and simple activities can be tiring for the patient. It comes to a weight loss and continue to body aches. As the heart muscle inflammation progresses, respiratory distress occurs, which in most patients also leads directly to a panic attack. The quality of life of the patient is extremely limited by the heart muscle inflammation. Without treatment, spontaneous cardiac death can also occur.

The general condition of the patient worsens and it is not uncommon for people to have trouble concentrating or thinking. The heart muscle inflammation can be treated with the help of antibiotics, whereby no special complications occur. However, it can not be predicted whether the heart is irreversibly damaged by the heart muscle inflammation and whether this may reduce the life expectancy of the patient.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since the symptoms of heart muscle inflammation are quite unspecific, a diagnosis is difficult. Myocarditis may go unnoticed for a long time, but that does not mean that it is harmless. Heart failure, shortness of breath and similar symptoms should be investigated as soon as possible.

One of the main symptoms, the feverish infection, is not yet an urgent problem. However, if there is a heart condition of some kind (weakness despite rest, respiratory problems, tachycardia, etc.), there is a suspicion of myocarditis. A doctor should be consulted urgently. The first point of contact is the family doctor, who then, if necessary, referred to a cardiologist.

Especially people who already have heart failure should quickly go to the doctor if their senses change. The same applies to people who engage in excessive sport. This can be fatal in combination with myocarditis.

A quick trip to the doctor and a quick treatment are always in the interest of the person concerned. Otherwise, an infection can be delayed or widened. Consequential damage to the heart is even worse, the longer the heart muscle inflammation remains untreated.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of heart muscle inflammation is usually medicated. If there is an infection by bacteria, this is treated by the use of antibiotics. If the heart muscle inflammation was caused by viruses, these can not be treated by medication. In these cases, only the concomitant symptoms are treated. For this purpose, painkillers are administered and possible cardiac arrhythmias treated by the administration of special drugs.

If the heart muscle inflammation has already led to a heart failure, this is fought out of a mixture of diuretic drugs, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers. In a large outpour this is dotted, that is, the liquid is sucked off. If an autoimmune disease is the cause of heart muscle inflammation, it is also treated by the administration of cortisone. This should suppress the body's defenses.

If the inflammation has already led to a strong and permanent damage to the heart, there is the last alternative, the heart transplantation. To prevent heart muscle inflammation, you should take special care in case of fever. Even with a simple cold, no sport should be practiced.

Outlook & Forecast

If the patient adheres to the medical requirements, he has a good prognosis for heart muscle inflammation. With a consistent sparing, a healthy life style and the avoidance of stress it comes with most affected persons to a good illness course and a cure. The heart muscle inflammation heals completely and usually without further sequelae.

Over-exertion should be avoided during the healing process, otherwise complications and a life-threatening condition can occur. In about 15% of sufferers, a chronic course of myocarditis develops. The functioning of the heart is permanently limited and the resilience is reduced. This affects the health and prognosis of the patient. A change of the everyday procedures is necessary, so that no deterioration of the heart function develops. Many sufferers need to restructure and restrict occupational and sporting activities.

The overall performance of the patient decreases and the susceptibility to disease increases. Many patients report respiratory distress and receive a lifetime medication. If severe cardiac arrhythmias occur, myocarditis can lead to a fatal outcome. A sudden cardiac death is the result of irregularities. Basically, patients with heart muscle inflammation have to undergo regular check-ups for life. The heart activity is checked, so that in case of discrepancies can be reacted immediately.


With the right aftercare, most heart muscle inflammation heal easily and allow those affected a symptom-free life. Of course, the patient has to contribute to this as well. In addition to regular check-ups at the attending physician and strict adherence to the drug setting, the person affected must also observe a three to six-month rest period. During this period, physical activity or other strenuous activities are completely prohibited.

The cause of myocarditis is often trapped infections, in which the affected persons have not spared. Even after complete healing, patients will have to maintain absolute bed rest for future colds or gastrointestinal infections. This does not only apply to high fever, but to even mild symptoms such as runny nose or cough.

Only then can an overload of the heart and a spreading of the infection on the heart muscle be effectively prevented. Since both fatty nutrition and smoking are among the typical risk factors for heart disease, a change in diet and abstinence from smoking is inevitable. If the patient is prone to obesity, reducing weight helps relieve the cardiovascular system.

Everyday life should be reshaped so that stress is avoided. As a balance, yoga, meditation or hobbies can be helpful. Psychotherapy may help to better manage the remaining stress, to find the perfect balance and to relieve the body.

You can do that yourself

A myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) is a very serious illness, which must not be treated by yourself, otherwise serious complications threaten.

Whether and what the patient himself can contribute to his healing depends on the cause of myocarditis. If the disease is due to an infection with bacteria or viruses, which is often the case, then the patient can accelerate his recovery by strengthening his body's defenses. Helpful is a predominantly herbal, vitamin and fiber-rich diet. Meat and sausages, ready meals, sweets, white flour products and luxury foods such as alcohol and cigarettes are counterproductive. In Naturopathy red Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is used to strengthen the immune system. However, such over-the-counter medicines should not be taken in case of myocarditis without consulting the attending physician.

Regardless of the cause of myocarditis, physical care is always required. The medical orders in this point, however, must be followed. The same applies to sports activities, even if these, such as regular walks, are basically healthy. These activities also usually have to be abandoned during a heart muscle inflammation.

An over-exertion during convalescence can lead to a relapse, which is associated with a permanent damage to the heart. The patient should therefore necessarily spare themselves to the required extent.

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