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Myocarditis means there is inflammation within the heart muscle. Myocarditis in children usually occurs after a viral infection, but rarely can be caused by bacteria, parasites or fungus. Myocarditis affects the hearts ability to pump and the heart’s electrical system, making the patient at risk for arrhythmias.
With the right medical treatment, most children with myocarditis recover completely within a few months. Some children will need continuing care with a cardiologist.
The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the experience and skills to diagnose and provide care for myocarditis in children.
Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services conveniently located throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
In older children, symptoms also can include cough; nausea; abdominal or chest pain; swelling in the legs, feet and face; and excessive tiredness.
Severe myocarditis can permanently damage the heart muscle. It can cause heart failure where the heart can’t pump blood effectively. In severe cases, people with myocarditis may need a ventricular assist device or a heart transplant because of their severe heart failure.
Since myocarditis-affected hearts are not pumping blood effectively, the blood can pool in the heart, increasing the risk for blood clots. These clots can dislodge and have many life-threatening side effects, including strokes or a pulmonary embolism.
Because myocarditis affects the heart’s electrical system, arrhythmias or very fast heart rates may occur. These rhythms can further worsen the function of the heart making it pump less effectively. Some serious arrhythmias can make a patient’s heart stop beating which can be fatal if not immediately treated.
At Norton Children’s Heart Institute, your child’s pediatric cardiologist likely will run a number of tests and gather details about your child’s symptoms.
Tests may include:
There is no one cure for myocarditis. Treatment focuses on the underlying cause, if found, and managing symptoms. The inflammation often goes away on its own over time. Treatment typically focuses on helping the heart work better as it heals and may include: