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The skilled cardiologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center diagnose and care for people with myocarditis, an infection of the middle layer of the heart’s muscular wall.

Combining expertise and experience with the latest science-based tools and treatments, our specialized heart doctors evaluate and treat myocarditis with medication and lifestyle change recommendations.

Specialized Treatment for Heart Inflammation

Myocarditis is a condition in which the myocardium – the muscular middle layer of the heart’s three layers of tissue – becomes inflamed. The myocardium is responsible for contracting to pump blood throughout the body and then relaxing as the heart refills with returning blood. 

UT Southwestern’s experienced cardiologists carefully diagnose and treat myocarditis. Our team of experts works closely with patients and their families to choose the most appropriate treatment to improve quality of life. 

Causes of Myocarditis

Myocarditis can be caused by conditions that include:

  • Infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal)
  • Diphtheria
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Tuberculosis
  • Drug or chemical poisoning 

Symptoms of Myocarditis

Symptoms of myocarditis include:

  • Symptoms similar to those of cold or flu, such as fever, chest ache, and fatigue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythms, which can lead to fainting, joint pain, or swelling of the legs due to fluid accumulation
  • Cardiac scar tissue, which can lead to congestive heart failure 

Myocarditis Diagnosis

UT Southwestern cardiologists might perform several tests to diagnose myocarditis, which can be difficult to detect. Common diagnostic tests include:

  • Blood test: To look for signs of inflammation and the presence of antibodies targeting the heart muscle
  • Chest X-ray: To look for fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema), which can indicate heart failure
  • Echocardiography (echo or cardiac ultrasound): To see the size and cycles of the heart and determine if the heart muscle is weak, the heart is enlarged, or fluid is present around the heart
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): To assess the heart rhythm to determine the size and function of the atria and ventricles (upper and lower chambers of the heart)
  • Stethoscope examination: To listen for a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Biopsy of heart muscle: A tissue sample to determine if the heart is infected (rare)

Myocarditis Treatments

Treatments for myocarditis include:

  • Analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infection
  • Diuretics to remove fluid from the lungs and legs
  • Low-salt diet to help prevent fluid buildup

Support Services

UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health. 

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease. 

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.