Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle. This reduces the efficiency of the heart’s pumping function and disrupts the normal rhythm of the heart. The heart contains four chambers; two upper chambers called atria and two lower chambers called ventricles. The oxygen-poor blood enters the right side of the heart from the rest of the body, which is then pumped to the lungs to be oxygenated. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the left side of the heart and from there, pumped to the rest of the body. Myocarditis can be caused by:

  • Infections due to virus including influenza (flu) virus, Coxsackie virus which causes symptoms like flu, provirus which causes a rash, adenovirus which causes common cold

  • Allergic reaction to certain medications including antibiotics, and illegal drugs such as cocaine

  • Exposure to certain chemicals and radiations

  • Some diseases which causes inflammation

In children, myocarditis is usually caused by a viral infection. There are no known risk factors associated with this disease. Myocarditis can result in the formation of blood clots in the heart leading to a stroke or heart attack.​

Symptoms can be hard to detect initially. But in new-borns and infants, symptoms may appear suddenly. Children above the age of two experience fewer symptoms.

Symptoms in new-borns and infants include:​

  • Poor weight gain

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Fever

  • Low urine output

  • Pale pallor

  • Cool hands and feet

  • Rapid breathing

  • Rapid heart rate​

Symptoms in children over the age of two include:

  • Chest pain

  • Cough

  • Fatigue

  • Swelling in the legs, feet and face​​

Get immediate medical attention if you notice your child experiencing above mentioned symptoms. For best medical care, visit our doctors at the Children's Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan.​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Myocarditis can be difficult to diagnose owing to the symptoms that are similar to those present in other heart diseases. But our highly efficient doctors of the Children's Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital strive to make an accurate and prompt diagnosis for a successful treatment.  

Initially, the doctor may inquire about the symptoms in detail and conduct a physical examination of your child. Other tests may also be recommended for an accurate diagnosis. These include:

  • Echocardiogram in which sound waves, directed at the heart from a device (transducer) placed on the chest, are used to produce images of the heart. The doctor studies the images to detect any enlargement of the heart, inefficient pumping function, and blood clots inside the heart ​

  • ECG (Electrocardiogram) in which the electrical activity of the heart is recorded to detect any irregularity in the rhythm (arrhythmia) and structure

  • Chest X-ray to detect any enlargement of the heart and presence of fluid in the lungs

  • Cardiac catheterization in which a thin tube (catheter) is inserted in the arm or groin and threaded up to the inside of the heart. This is done to inject a dye in the heart to clearly visualize its structure. This procedure is performed if the non-invasive tests fail to provide adequate information 

  • Blood test to measure a complete blood count and certain enzymes indicating damage to the heart muscles, and to check the presence of infection, antibodies and virus​​

There is no cure for myocarditis. The treatment’s aim is to support the function of the heart until the inflammation subsides. Your child may be admitted to the hospital to monitor their condition, to administer necessary medications, and to keep them from engaging in strenuous activities. The Children's Hospital Services Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, houses internationally trained staff who would care for your child with utmost compassion and make them as comfortable as possible.

Treatment options include:

  • Medications including:​

    • Diuretics which assist your child’s kidneys in eliminating sodium and water, thus reducing blood pressure

    • Beta blockers which decreases the load on your child’s heart, encouraging it to beat slowly and with less force​

    • ACE (Angiotensin-converting Enzymes) inhibitors and Angiotensin II receptor blocker, which help the blood to flow easily by relaxing the blood vessels

  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), consisting of purified antibodies, that the body produces to combat infections, which helps to control the inflammation

  • ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) which provides oxygen to the body in severe heart failure​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.