Heart inflammation is a serious condition where fluid accumulates in or near the heart. This can happen to the heart muscles themselves (myocarditis), to the membrane sac that encloses the heart (pericarditis), or to the inside layer of the heart (endocarditis). All three of these forms are serious conditions and need to be treated to avoid further long-term complications.
Inflammation of the heart can also happen as a result of many different diseases and conditions. The heart may become inflamed in response to a viral or bacterial infection.
Since inflammation is the body’s response to injury, any condition that causes damage to the heart can cause inflammation. Inflammation of the heart occurs in response to disease, trauma, injury, parasites, and exposure of dangerous chemicals.
What Conditions Cause Heart Inflammation?
To begin with, there are many different conditions that can cause heart inflammation. Different conditions can also attack different parts of the heart, causing swelling in the muscles, inner layers, or outer sac.
Many of the conditions that cause heart inflammation are infections. Viral or bacterial infections can lead to inflammation as the body tries to fight the infection off.
Some of the viral and bacterial infections that may cause heart inflammation include:
- Staph infections
- Chagas disease
Autoimmune diseases are also culprits of heart inflammation. These diseases are conditions where the body attacks its own healthy cells, leading to pain and further complications. Examples of autoimmune diseases include:
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Alopecia areata
But disease and infection aren’t the only things that can cause the heart to become inflamed. Heart inflammation can even occur in response to certain environmental toxins and chemicals. For example, people who are exposed to radiation may develop symptoms related to heart inflammation. This can also happen to people exposed to high amounts of copper, lead, or other heavy metals. Exposure to dangerous chemicals in the water, air (such as through pollution or chemical smoke), and food can also cause these health issues.
Some lifestyle choices can also lead to heart inflammation. Heavy alcohol use has the potential to damage heart muscles and valves, leading to inflammation. Similarly, drug use, particularly intravenous drug use or use of cocaine and amphetamines, can cause endocarditis. Not taking care of your teeth can also lead to the condition in the form of bacterial endocarditis.
What Are the Symptoms of Heart Inflammation?
Wendy is a 57-year-old woman who has led a fairly healthy life. She tries her best to exercise, eat a healthy diet, and drink a good amount of water. But one winter, Wendy catches the flu from her granddaughter. She hopes to get through it without any complications.
Soon, however, Wendy starts to have difficulty breathing. Her chest hurts and she is noticing unusual swelling around her body, especially in her ankles and feet. She feels exhausted. Wendy finally decides to go to the hospital. In the end, she is diagnosed with myocarditis as a complication of bacterial infection in her heart muscles.
Symptoms of heart inflammation can have different symptoms depending on which part of your heart is affected. It may either develop slowly or hit without warning.
Depending on the type of heart inflammation you have, symptoms may include:
- Body aches or chills
- Cough (sometimes coughing up blood)
- Pain in the chest or abdomen, muscles, or back
- Racing heart
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss
- Urination of blood
- Losing consciousness
- Edema (swelling), especially of legs, feet, and ankles
- Changes in the appearance of the skin; people may develop bumps that are red or purple in color, especially on their hands and feet.
What Are Potential Complications of Heart Inflammation?
Heart inflammation is extremely serious and must be treated promptly in order to avoid long-term complications. Some of the problems that can arise are long-term heart problems like heart conduction issues, arrhythmia, and other damage. Inflammation can also cause frequent fainting due to issues with blood flow.
If patients do not get treatment, heart inflammation can become deadly. As a result, this can lead to conditions like sepsis, blood clots, and problems in the lungs. Lung problems occur because of the close proximity with the heart. Retained fluid is one problem that may occur.
How is Inflammation of the Heart Treated?
Wendy’s doctors are concerned about treating her heart inflammation before she develops any significant complications. After performing an EKG and an ultrasound to confirm that she is experiencing heart inflammation, they start a treatment regimen.
Heart inflammation, if it is very mild, can resolve without intervention. But most of the times, medical treatment is necessary. In severe cases, patients may need to undergo surgery to help correct the inflammation and its effects.
Medications to treat heart inflammation vary in type depending on what kind of heart inflammation is present. Endocarditis, often caused by a bacterial infection, may require a round of antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading. Heart failure medications may be necessary if doctors are concerned about this as a complication. Blood thinners may also be necessary, especially if there is a risk of blood clots.
However, the largest part of treatment involves anti-inflammatory drugs. This may be different kinds of drugs. The main kind is corticosteroids, which are designed to fight the body’s natural inflammatory response. These may be taken orally in the form of a pill, via injection, or another way.
For some patients, skin patches for corticosteroid treatment may also be an option under the advice of their doctor. These skin patches deliver corticosteroids directly to the site of the infection — in this case, the heart. Therefore, these are an easy and non-invasive way to fight excessive inflammation at home.
AgeForce’s anti-inflammatory skin patches deliver corticosteroids into the body by direct application to the skin. Some patients report feeling the effects immediately and regaining the use of their body in a short period of time. If you are interested in finding out more about how AgeForce can help you, contact us today to start your anti-inflammation treatment.