Heart inflammation happens after you have an injury or infection in your heart. This rare condition can be mild, serious or in between the two extremes. Mild cases don’t need treatment, and medication helps with all three types of heart inflammation. Recovery can take many weeks. If you have a bad case, you may need procedures or a medical device.
Heart inflammation is how your heart reacts when it’s hurt or infected. For some people, heart inflammation happens without warning. For others, it takes longer. Some people have bad symptoms, while others barely have any symptoms. The degree of inflammation can also vary between people depending on individual factors and causes.
You can separate heart inflammation into three different areas of your heart.
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All three types of heart inflammation are rare. People in any age group can get heart inflammation, but it’s more common in men. Certain medical issues put you at a higher risk of heart inflammation. These include:
Medical treatments can increase your risk of heart inflammation, too. These include:
Heart inflammation causes different problems depending on where it happens.
Common symptoms for all three types of heart inflammation include:
Other symptoms are more specific to the type of heart inflammation you have.
Endocarditis symptoms include:
Myocarditis symptoms include:
Pericarditis symptoms include:
When a virus is to blame for your heart inflammation, you can have symptoms from the virus first, such as:
Infections — usually from viruses or bacteria — cause most cases of heart inflammation. Other causes include:
Few young adults have reported getting myocarditis or pericarditis after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. However, most recovered well after treatment with medicine.
Yes, some complications of heart inflammation are serious and can be life-limiting. Without treatment, heart inflammation can cause:
However, if you have a mild case of pericarditis or myocarditis, it can go away on its own.
Your healthcare provider will use the following to decide if you have heart inflammation:
Your healthcare provider may do tests to help them:
Medications can help you fight infections and keep your immune system and heart from working too hard. If you have more serious complications, you may need procedures or medical devices.
Medicines for heart inflammation may vary depending on which part of your heart is inflamed. Medications you take may include:
Depending on which medicine you’re taking, side effects may include:
Your healthcare provider may need to drain extra fluid from your pericardium (pericardial effusion) or do surgery to remove damaged heart tissue. If myocarditis leads to heart failure, you may need a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or even a heart transplant. If myocarditis gives you abnormal heart rhythms that don’t get better with medicine, you may need a pacemaker.
Although you can’t change your age or the medical conditions you have that put you at risk for heart inflammation, there are a few things you can control, including:
If you’re at high risk for endocarditis, your healthcare provider can prescribe antibiotics. You take these before going to the dentist or having surgery. You’re high risk if you’ve had endocarditis before, had a valve replaced or have had a specific heart issue since birth.
You can get heart inflammation more than once, so be on the lookout for symptoms.
It can take several weeks or years to recover from some types of heart inflammation.
Endocarditis is fatal without treatment, but most people who get antibiotics survive endocarditis.
Pericarditis can be mild, life-threatening or somewhere in between. The prognosis is good when you get treatment quickly. You don’t even need treatment for a mild case.
Myocarditis may give some people no issues after treatment, while others continue to need medicine. Some people may need a heart transplant at some point.
Continue to take all the medicines your healthcare provider prescribed. Keep going to your follow-up appointments, which may include repeat blood tests or imaging.
Contact your healthcare provider if you get any new symptoms while you’re recovering.
Since chest pain is a common symptom of heart inflammation and heart attack, you may not know which one is happening. To be safe, call 911 if you’re having chest pains.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you think you have heart inflammation, don’t wait to get help. You’ll have the best outcome if you catch heart inflammation early. Once you see your healthcare provider, be sure to follow their instructions for taking medicines they prescribed. You’ll also need follow-up appointments throughout your recovery, which can take weeks. Remember the symptoms you had, as it’s possible to get heart inflammation again in the future.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/16/2022.
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