Causes And Treatment For Arrhythmias (Abnormal Heart Rhythm)
An abnormal heart rhythm, also known as arrhythmia, is a condition where the heart is beating irregularly. There are a variety of heart conditions that can cause arrhythmias, and which form of arrhythmia you experience depends on where in the heart it is found. Although not all of them are dangerous, it is still important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing an irregular heartbeat.
Myocarditis occurs when the heart muscle becomes inflamed, which can affect your heart’s electrical system. This can cause irregular heart rhythms known as arrhythmias, which can include a rapid or abnormal heartbeat. Many factors can lead to an inflamed heart, although it is most commonly due to your body’s response to infections.
Types Of Myocarditis
There are several different kinds of myocarditis, and which one you are experiencing depends on the cause and the length of symptoms. Acute myocarditis is a form of the illness that has developed relatively recently, and sometimes suddenly. It is usually caused by a viral infection and the symptoms can resolve themselves as rapidly as they appeared.
Chronic myocarditis is when it takes longer than usual to treat the disease or when symptoms reappear periodically after the first experience of the condition. This typically occurs due to inflammatory conditions that are more general than infections, such as autoimmune disorders where your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissue in your body.
Lymphocytic myocarditis is a rare form of the condition that can result in severe symptoms that require hospital treatment. It occurs when white blood cells enter and cause inflammation of the heart muscle. This type of the disease can also occur after a virus.
Causes Of Myocarditis
Myocarditis is a rare condition, but when it does occur, it is typically due to an infection in the body. This is because when you have an infection, your body will produce cells to fight the virus. These cells release chemicals, and if any of the cells enter your heart, some chemicals they release can inflame your heart muscle.
Infections from viruses such as the common cold, influenza, or COVID-19 are common causes of myocarditis. The disease can also be caused by bacteria, fungus, or parasites. In some cases, the disease occurs because of autoimmune disorders such as lupus or sarcoidosis. Environmental or toxic exposures, such as drug use, can also lead to inflammation.
Symptoms Of Myocarditis
In the early stages of this disease, you may not experience any myocarditis symptoms at all. If symptoms do develop, they can include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, abnormal heartbeat, and signs of infection such as headache, fever, muscle aches, sore throat, leg swelling, diarrhea, and painful joints.
Testing For Myocarditis
Diagnosing myocarditis can be difficult due to symptoms that are attributed to a variety of medical conditions. To determine whether you are experiencing myocarditis, along with what the cause of the illness is, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. Then your doctor may conduct tests such as a chest X-ray, blood test, electrocardiogram (EKG), or an echocardiogram. In some cases, you may be given a cardiac MRI or biopsy.
Treatment For Myocarditis
Myocarditis treatment is unable to cure the condition, although identifying the underlying cause and treating it can be effective in managing symptoms. By treating the condition causing the inflammation, there is a likelihood it will resolve itself after.
Treatment for myocarditis can include prescription medications such as beta blockers to improve arrhythmias, ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure, diuretics to help decrease fluid buildup in the body, and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Your doctor will also likely recommend lifestyle changes including reduced physical activity, a low-salt diet, and fluid restriction.
In severe cases of myocarditis where the above treatment options don’t work, your doctor may implant a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). If this does not improve heart function and you still show signs of heart disease or heart failure, you may be evaluated for a heart transplant.
How CVG Can Help
CVG offers multiple services that can discover risk factors for myocarditis and signs of heart inflammation. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for various forms of myocarditis. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:
A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your heart rate and blood pressure.
An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.
A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.
We also offer cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat several heart issues. If any of these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions such as atrial fibrillation testing and catheter ablation. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.