Inflammation of the heart lining or the heart should never be overlooked, as it can be a warning sign of some major problem. Read on to know more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this condition.
Inflammation is nothing but the body’s response to an infection or unavoidable injury. Many scientific studies also suggest that inflammation is an important step in the process of fatty acid depositions in the arteries (also called atherosclerosis). During systemic inflammation, levels of a phase protein called ‘C reactive protein’ or CRP get heightened, which could also be a warning sign of a possible cardiovascular disease or heart attack.
Heart inflammation can be experienced, as a prime symptom in itself, by people who suffer a high risk of several severe diseases. It is also called myocarditis. Most of the time, the inflammation can also be a supposedly ‘normal response’ of the body’s immune system, which is also called an autoimmune disease (a condition where the immune system causes harm to its own healthy tissues).
In most cases, various types of arthritis can also cause heart inflammation along with the inflammation of the other body organs. Several other causes are abnormal variations of the heartbeat (either fast or slow), dyspnea which is characterized by shortness of breath, left side heart failure that causes accumulation of fluids in the lungs (also called pulmonary edema), several viral or bacterial infections like tuberculosis; tetanus; and gonorrhea, heart diseases, parasitic infections like Chagas disease, heart surgery, radiation and radiation therapy that is given for cancer, and several medications that are taken to treat other medical conditions. Mentioned below are a few more causes:
- Systemic lupus
- Rheumatic fever
- Enterovirus antenatal infection
- Congenital Toxoplasmosis
- Shoulder tendinitis or bursitis
- Lyme disease
The above mentioned causes can also be its symptoms, like shoulder pain, joint pain, redness, swelling, joint stiffness, problems with joint functions, weakness of the heart, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitation, neck muscle pain, lower back pain, etc. Very rarely, these symptoms are accompanied with several other symptoms, like fatigue, acute rheumatic fever, chills, loss of appetite, loss and lack of energy, tiredness, muscle stiffness, etc. As mentioned earlier, the causes bursitis or shoulder pain and arthritis can also be the symptoms of heart inflammation.
Treatment and Diagnosis
The first diagnostic step is the self-observation of the above-mentioned symptoms. This self-observation can later be followed by visiting a doctor. He/she will study your medical history along with prescribing several physical tests, blood tests, echocardiography, etc. Some detailed tests can also be performed to diagnose the causes of myocarditis, like cardiac catheterization, angiography, endomyocardial biopsy, etc.
It is a fact that inflammation of the heart is a serious medical condition, and the degree of its seriousness would only decide the appropriate treatment method. If it’s due to some viral or bacterial infections, then mere rest and relaxation is all that is needed, along with the antibiotics to evade the infections. As the severity of the causes increases, several medications like diuretics to reduce fluid retention, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, digitalis to stimulate the heartbeat, and low-dose beta-blockers may be suggested by the health care provider. Only in the severe most cases, heart transplantation can be opted for as the final option.
Prognosis and Prevention
Again, prognosis of this condition depends upon its severity. Heart inflammation that is caused by some mild infectious diseases and medical conditions have great prognosis while prognosis of the serious cases varies greatly. It can either lead to complete healing or cause congestive heart failure leading to death. It is a fact that this is an unpredictable disease; however, there are several preventive measures that can be taken to avoid it.
Protect yourself from contracting any sort of infection and avoid alcohol abuse or limit alcohol consumption to negligible limits (less than 2 drinks a day or less than that as well). Take proper immunizations for the autoimmune disorders and diseases, like tetanus, rubella, measles, polio, diphtheria, etc. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle along with following a suitable exercise routine and balanced diet, one can avoid this problem of the heart completely. Do not ever neglect any of the symptoms you observe and follow it by a proper medical intervention. Stay fit!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.