What is Myocarditis?

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle. This inflammation may affect the heart’s electrical system and cause the muscle to enlarge, which may weaken the heart and force it to work harder to circulate blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. Ultimately, this may lead to heart failure. According to the Myocarditis Foundation, the disease affects thousands of adults and children in the United States and around the world each year.

Viral infections are the leading cause of myocarditis. Common viral infections that can lead to myocarditis include: COVID-19, hepatitis B and C, parvovirus, and even the common cold. Cancers, bacterial infections, and parasites can also cause myocarditis. 

While myocarditis can be difficult to diagnose, there are a number of symptoms related to the disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms of myocarditis include:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Shortness of breath, at rest or during physical activity
  • Fluid retention with swelling of your legs, ankles, and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Other signs and symptoms of a viral infection, such as a headache, body aches, joint pain, fever, a sore throat, or diarrhea


Symptoms of myocarditis in children may differ from adult symptoms. Common symptoms in children include: 

  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythms


Myocarditis is usually diagnosed through an electrocardiogram, chest x-ray, or an echocardiogram. If a diagnosis of myocarditis is confirmed, your physician will discuss a treatment plan with you. 


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