Myocarditis, pericarditis and endocarditis are all types of heart inflammation. However, the areas of the heart that they affect (and often their causes) are different.
Each of these types of inflammation affects a different layer of the heart.
- Myocarditis affects the heart muscle (myocardium).
- Pericarditis affects the pericardium: the outer layer of tissue that surrounds the heart like a sac.
- Endocarditis is inflammation of the inner layer that lines the heart chambers and valves, known as the endocardium.
Their causes can also differ from one another.
Myocarditis is usually caused by a viral infection. It can also be caused by a bacterial infection, fungus, rheumatic fever, autoimmune disease, or a reaction to medicines or vaccines. Myocarditis can cause long-term damage to the heart or even sudden cardiac arrest in severe cases, but most people recover without complications.
Pericarditis is also commonly caused by a viral infection. Although it can cause serious complications that can lead to death, the majority of patients recover within a few months. Proper treatment is important to avoid the thickening and scarring of the heart lining that occurs when pericarditis progresses to constrictive pericarditis.
Endocarditis is a little different. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, rather than a virus. Endocarditis is a life-threatening condition that can cause serious damage to the heart valves. It can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Myocarditis and pericarditis both typically involve chest pain. Pericarditis is usually a stabbing pain that should ease when sitting up and leaning forward. With myocarditis, you are more likely to have shortness of breath, light-headedness, an irregular heartbeat and flu-like symptoms. Endocarditis also involves flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, chills, headache, fatigue and joint pain.
If you have any symptoms that might be caused by heart problems, seek prompt medical attention. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 immediately.
The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.