Your heart is a unique organ in that it contains a singular type of muscle tissue. It’s not a muscle in the traditional sense, but is a muscular organ. This tissue, when infected, can become inflamed, which can compromise the function of your heart. This condition is called myocarditis, and it bears close monitoring.
Myocarditis became more widely recognized in recent years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus itself, as well as certain vaccinations for COVID-19, can cause inflammation in the heart muscle, though these outcomes aren’t all that common.
To help you better understand heart inflammation, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team of heart health experts here at Upper East Side Cardiology want to highlight myocarditis in this month’s blog post.
Behind the inflammation
In most cases, myocarditis occurs as a result of a viral infection. When your body fights off foreign invaders, your immune system creates an inflammatory response, which can affect the muscle tissues that make up your heart.
While viral infections are the primary driver of myocarditis, the condition can also develop because of an inflammatory autoimmune disorder, which initiates the same immune response in your body.
In cases of infection, myocarditis is resolved after your body successfully fights off the infection.
The concern with myocarditis is that, if it persists, it can weaken your heart muscle and lead to an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or heart failure.
Inflammation in your heart muscle due to COVID-19 is not common and typically occurs in those who develop serious illness. When it takes your immune system longer to fight off the infection, your chances for developing complications like myocarditis increase.
There were cases of myocarditis reported in those who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), especially in male adolescents and young adults. Thankfully, these were typically acute problems that responded well to medications that brought the inflammation down.
Since the outset of COVID-19, Dr. Bhusri has stayed abreast of heart-related issues due to COVID-19, and he understands how best to treat them.
The symptoms of myocarditis
To help you recognize myocarditis, here are some of the more common symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
These symptoms can also signal other cardiovascular issues, so it’s important that you come see us any time you experience any of the conditions we list above.
If it’s myocarditis, we can prescribe medications that bring down the inflammation and facilitate your heart’s ability to beat freely.
If you have more questions about inflammation in your heart, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side to schedule an appointment.