Inflammatory Heart Disease

Inflammatory heart disease pertains to inflammation of the heart muscles because of an infection that develops from a bacteria or virus or from an internal peculiarity. This type of inflammation is often associated with episodes of rheumatic fever and kawasaki disease. The condition may be classified as either myocarditis, pericarditis or endocarditis.


Types of Inflammatory Heart Disease

Myocarditis

Myocarditis describes any inflammation that occurs within the heart muscle. It is induced by various infections which will include viruses like sarcoidosis, and distinct immune diseases. The most prevalent form of infection is the viral kind that assaults the heart muscle resulting in local inflammation. Once the infection subsides the immune response will still endure. Because of this, myocarditis will continue to plague the heart muscle long after the infection has ceased.

Symptoms

It is not unusual for the disease to be completely asymptomatic. Pain in the chest is the most likely sign of myocarditis. In astringent instances the disease may progress into degeneration of the heart muscle. It is then unfortunately able to trigger heart failure with the associated symptoms: shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, oedema or swelling of feet and ankles, fatigue among others.

Diagnosis

Myocarditis will be discovered by employing the usual methods of diagnostics. ECG or electrocardiogram will be used to detect deviations within the heartbeat. MRI or magnetic resonance imaging tests will be applied to reveal heart muscle peculiarities. Blood tests will be performed to search for any likely infection and also for the possible rise in level of heart muscle enzymes.

Prognosis

There is much uncertainty about the likelihood of recovery in the early phases of the disease. A fair portion of individuals achieve total recovery while some may eventually be inflicted with chronic heart failure due to extravagant damage to the heart muscles. Infrequently a person may be struck with fulminant heart failure which will necessitate a heart transplant. If the degeneration of the muscle is enormous a defibrillator may be implanted to better the heart’s ability to function.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis is a disease that causes inflammation of the pericardium. The pericardium is the fluid sac that envelopes the heart. It provides lubrication to the heart thus decreasing friction during activity and also firmly secures the heart to the surrounding walls within the cavity.

The cause of pericarditis may possibly be unexplained however there are some factors that may induce the disease. These will include:

  • Some tumours and cancers
  • Specific metabolic disorders potentially hypothyroidism and uremia (kidney failure)
  • Infection with a virus or bacteria
  • Prior impairment to the heart, for example heart attack, trauma and heart surgery
  • An underlying connective tissue disease such as sarcoidosis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • An unexpected reaction to a particular type of medication

Symptoms

The most defining symptom will be chest pain or angina pectoris that is generally expressed as a cutting, intense pain that migrates from the chest area to the shoulder blades, back and neck. It is also quite possible to experience pain near the diaphragm that extends to the back. When inhaling deeply the chest pain will become significantly worse. The pain is typically unbearable when lying flat but will be bettered by leaning forward.

If the inflammation occurs considerable close to the oesophagus it may cause pain when swallowing.

If the inflammation is prompted by an infection a slight fever may be observed.

Diagnosing Pericarditis

Diagnosis will begin with an assessment of the pain symtoms to distinguish it from pain associated with another condition. A pericardial friction rub may be detected using a stethoscope, this will be an obvious sign of inflammation. However it may not always be able to determine that there is inflammation because the rub may be inconstant.

To confirm the presence of the disease an ECG electrocardiogram, chest x-ray and ultrasound of the heart will be utilized.

A blood test may be undertaken to detect any other underlying conditions that may have triggered the development of pericarditis.

Treatments

The primay treatment is the administering of anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen is once such measure that may be used because of its anti-inflammatory properties. A narcotic pain medication may also be prescribed. Pericardiocentesis may be applicable as a from of progressive treatment. It will remove excessive fluid from the sac and or will detect the pathogen of origin that may have induced the condition.

Endocarditis

Endocarditis is induced by an infection of the endocardium or inner lining of the heart resulting in pronounced inflammation. It will present itself when pathogens from other regions of the body infect the bloodstream and affix to defective areas of the heart. If it is not treated speedily it may cause partial or complete damage to the heart valve or may develop into a life-threatening condition. It usually affects individuals who have an artificial heart valve in place or have suffered degeneration of a heart valve. Having a pre-existing heart defect also increases the odds of developing the condition. It does not normally affect healthy people.

Symptoms

Endocarditis may develop over a fairly long period of time or may manifest quite suddenly. Its progression will depend on the corresponding heart defect or infection

  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Joint and muscular pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Visible purple or red spots exhibited in the mouth on the skin or on the whites of the eyes
  • Heart murmurs (irregular sounds arising from the heart)
  • Constant coughing
  • Blood in the urine
  • Oedema or swelling of the feet and abdomen
  • Fatigue and unusual tiredness
  • Night sweats
  • Tenderness below the rib cage that is associated with the spleen
  • A pale complexion
  • Areas of red tender spots just below the skin of the fingers.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Though these symptoms may look similar to other non-threatening conditions it is still necessary to consult a medical practitioner when a few of these symptoms are observed especially if affected by another heart defect.

Groups most at risk

  • Individuals who currently have a artificial valve(s). Artificial valves are more susceptible to infection by pathogens most notably in the first year of implantation.
  • Having a congenital birth defect means the heart is more likely to be affected by infections.
  • Any previous injury to the heart will also increase overall susceptibility
  • Intravenous drug users are at a greater risk of developing the condition because of needle sharing. The bacteria that may incite this condition is commonly harboured in contaminated needles.

Diagnosis

  • Blood tests will be applicable. They will discover the source of bacterial infection.
  • An echocardiogram will be employed to properly assess the heart’s condition.
  • An ECG or electrocardiogram and x-ray will also be used to confirm diagnosis.
  • MRI magnetic resonance or CT computerized tomography imaging scan will be used if it is believed the infection may have traveled to other areas of the body.

Treatments

The main treatments are antibiotics in less intense cases and possible surgery where damage is significantly compromising.

For more information on heart disease and prevention please visit:

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