Renowned Expertise Treating Inflammatory Heart Disease
With the highest quality of care for our patients with inflammatory heart disease, our heart specialists have the experience to treat the most complex issues. University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute provides the necessary treatment to fight the underlying infection, restore healthy heart rhythm and circulation, relieve symptoms and reduce long-term damage to the heart.
When irritants such as bacteria, a chemical or virus reach your heart muscle, you may experience inflammation of the heart or a heart infection. Such an infection can cause damage to or inflammation of the lining of the heart, valves, outer membrane or the heart muscle itself.
The symptoms you may face depend on the type of heart infection and can include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, fatigue, fainting, aching muscles, red spots under the fingernails and purple or red spots on the skin.
Types of Heart Infections
There are three primary types of heart infections including:
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s inner lining or valves. It must be treated immediately so that it doesn’t turn into a fatal condition. It typically occurs when germs travel through your bloodstream to your heart and attach to damaged heart tissue.
- Myocarditis: Myocarditis is a rare condition that is caused by a viral infection or autoimmune response and leads to inflammation and damage of the heart muscle.
- Pericarditis: Pericarditis is the inflammation of the fibrous sac surrounding the heart known as the pericardium. This heart infection can arise after a heart attack or heart surgery or because of an inflammatory autoimmune condition such as arthritis.
Numerous Cardiac Treatment Options for Heart Infections
The type of heart infection you have as well as its cause will dictate how our heart specialists determine treatment. Antibiotics, medications for heart failure, corticosteroids and drugs that reduce inflammation can usually treat minor inflammatory heart disease. However, if your case is more serious, we may recommend the following advanced treatments:
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): With this treatment, ECMO provides the needed circulatory support for healing. You’ll be connected to a machine that draws blood supply through a unique membrane. It will add oxygen, remove carbon dioxide and serve as an external heart so that your heart can rest and heal.
- Heart transplant: A heart transplant may be a viable treatment option if there has been severe damage to your heart that cannot be reversed.
- Medical devices: There are special medical devices such as an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator or advanced technology pacemaker that can be inserted into your heart and strengthen its function.
- Pericardiocentesis: This procedure uses a needle to remove excess fluid from the pericardium. It may be an option if you have severe pericarditis and an excessive amount of fluid buildup around your heart.
Preventing Inflammatory Heart Disease
There are certain lifestyle choices that can help you prevent inflammatory heart disease and the risks of heart damage associated with it. These lifestyle choices include:
- Following good hygiene
- Practicing safe sex
- Staying up-to-date on vaccines
- Treating chest infections such as pneumonia promptly
- Visiting the doctor on a regular basis to check for autoimmune conditions