The myocardium is the muscular wall of the heart or the heart muscle. It contracts to pump blood out of the heart and then relaxes as the heart refills with returning blood. The myocardium’s smooth outer membrane is called the epicardium. Its inner lining is called the endocardium.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the myocardium. When the heart becomes inflamed, it is unable to pump as well because of damage to its cells and swelling (edema). The heart muscle may be damaged even more if the body’s immune system sends antibodies to try to fight whatever started the inflammation. Sometimes, these antibodies attack the tissues of the heart instead. If too many heart muscle cells are damaged, the heart muscle becomes weakened. In some cases, this process happens very quickly and results in heart failure or even sudden death.
More often, the heart attempts to heal itself. The heart muscle heals by changing the damaged or dead heart muscle cells into scar tissue. Scar tissue is not like heart muscle tissue because it does not contract and it cannot help the heart to pump. If enough scar tissue forms in the heart, it can lead to congestive heart failure or dilated cardiomyopathy.
Myocarditis is a rare condition. The inflammation of the heart muscle may be caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. Rheumatic Fever, drug or chemical poisoning or connective tissue diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
With a mild case of myocarditis, there may be no symptoms at all. You may have a fever, an achy feeling in your chest, and severe fatigue as if you have a bad cold or flu. Some people have an irregular heartbeat or trouble breathing. Usually, a mild case of myocarditis will go away without any lasting damage.
With any chest pain, please see your doctor.