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The Connection Between Covid-19, Myocarditis, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

When the heart muscle suffers cardiac inflammation, it is known as myocarditis. Myocarditis can have an impact on your heart’s electrical system when your heart muscle is inflamed. Myocarditis can cause arrhythmia, which is a fast or irregular heartbeat, and can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Myocarditis may lead to cardiomyopathy if the heart muscle becomes weakened and often depends on the medical history of the individual. Cardiomyopathy is when the heart’s ability to pump blood becomes progressively weakened. It can cause an abnormal heartbeat and, if not treated, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. SCA usually occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. SCA can happen to anyone at any time and is often fatal if not treated immediately. When someone experiences SCA, their blood flow stops and they lose consciousness. If not treated within minutes, SCA is a significant health issue in the United States and worldwide, affecting over 350,000 people each year in the US. Myocarditis can cause damage and failure to the heart as the heart muscle weakens over time, including sudden cardiac arrest. Without treatment, myocarditis has the potential to cause long-term cardiac damage from scar tissue and raise the risk of cardiac failure and other related health problems.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Myocarditis occurs when the myocardium is inflamed. The myocardium is the middle layer of the heart and is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. Treatment for myocarditis focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting the heart. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. If you think you or someone you know may have myocarditis, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is the name given to a cardiovascular disease that causes damage to the heart muscle. The heart’s ability to pump blood effectively becomes impaired due to cardiomyopathy. Some people’s heartbeats become abnormal. This causes irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Cardiomyopathy is caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • High blood pressure

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Viral infections

  • Certain medicines

  • Coronary artery disease

The link between COVID-19 & Myocarditis

A growing number of studies link the COVID-19 virus to heart damage after a longer period of time. COVID-19 is linked to a high rate of heart problems and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article titled: Association Between COVID-19 and Myocarditis Using Hospital-Based Administrative Data which states that Myocarditis occurs more frequently among COVID-19 patients and that there is a 16X higher risk of myocarditis among individuals with COVID-19.

Can COVID 19 Vaccination Cause Myocarditis?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article titled Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination. In this article, they state that cases of myocarditis have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) after the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations in male young adults and male adolescents, usually within a 1-week timeframe from vaccination and often after the second dose.

There is a Link Between Myocarditis & SCA

Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) is an umbrella term for a variety of cardiac problems, such as myocarditis, that can cause sudden cardiac arrest and death. It typically manifests or displays as an electrical malfunction of the heart.

There is a Link Between Myocarditis & SCA

Myocarditis is an acute inflammatory disease of the heart and can result in arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, or heart failure. Myocarditis can lead to cardiac arrest, even in young people, without producing any symptoms.

Difference Between Heart Attack and SCA

Many think that a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) are the same things, but they are very different. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is caused by a blockage that prevents blood flow to the heart. This blockage is usually caused by plaque buildup in the arteries. As a result, many describe a heart attack as a plumbing problem. SCA, on the other hand, is caused by an electrical problem in the heart that causes the heart to stop beating. While a heart attack is a “circulation” problem, SCA is a “rhythm” problem.

Difference Between Heart Attack and SCA

The majority of SCA cases are caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). When VF occurs, the heart’s electrical signals become chaotic and the ventricles start to quiver instead of pumping blood. If this occurs, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain or other vital organs.

SCA is a medical emergency and requires immediate CPR and defibrillation. Defibrillation is a process of restoring the heart’s normal rhythm with an electrical shock. This shock can be delivered by an automated external defibrillator (AED). An AED can be administered by a trained medical professional or by a bystander of a suspected SCA.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a lifesaving technique that can be used to maintain the circulation of blood in someone who has suffered SCA.

Treatment of Sudden Cardiac Arrest with an AED

Note that SCA does not discriminate and can occur without warning to any individual, even youth and professional athletes. It is estimated that 23,000 youth or young adults suffer from SCA each year and is growing.

AEDs Save Lives

The numbers are staggering just how many people could be saved from sudden cardiac arrest by receiving immediate CPR and defibrillation from an AED.

  • If an AED and CPR are administered to an SCA victim quickly after the collapse, the victim has a 90% chance of survival.

  • If an AED and CPR are not administered, the victim has a 10% chance of survival.

AEDs Save Lives

The numbers don’t lie, AEDs save lives and should be in all businesses and in every home. AEDs were developed to be used by a bystander even if they have no experience at all with an AED and CPR. One key metric used for FDA clearance for an AED is that the device can be safely operated even by a 5th grader.

What are the symptoms of myocarditis?

The symptoms of myocarditis can range from mild to severe. Depending on the cause of the illness, myocarditis symptoms and indicators differ from just simple chest pain. The following are examples of typical myocarditis symptoms and indications:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat (arrhythmias)

  • Fatigue

  • Headache, body aches, joint pain, fever, a sore throat, or diarrhea are all symptoms of a viral illness.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In more severe myocarditis cases, it can progress to heart failure or arrhythmia and even sudden death.

What are the causes of myocarditis?

There are many causes of myocarditis, including infections such as bacterial infections, gastrointestinal infections, Epstein Barr virus, autoimmune disorders, exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, medication side effects, and covid-19. In some cases, the cause is unknown. Regardless of the cause, it is important to seek treatment for myocarditis in order to reduce symptoms and minimize the risk of complications. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for your condition.

About Myocarditis

Myocarditis is a rare condition, although millions of individuals in the United States and across the world are believed to be affected each year. According to the Myocarditis Foundation, there were 3.1 million cases of myocarditis diagnosed in 2017 (Lancet, November 2018). The Myocarditis Foundation was established in 2005 to provide a reliable source for people suffering from myocarditis because many individuals – and even doctors – are unfamiliar with this illness.

What is Acute Myocarditis

Acute myocarditis is a form of acute myocardial infarction that occurs suddenly and affects a person’s heart muscle quickly. It’s usually caused by a viral infection, especially if the viral infection attacks the heart rapidly. Acute myocarditis can occur quickly and may go away just as fast. Chronic myocarditis is when treatment takes longer than usual to achieve or when symptoms return after having the disease.

Chronic Viral Myocarditis

This is a form of myocarditis that is caused by a persistent viral infection and can lead to heart damage and other complications if left untreated, so it’s important to seek medical attention when symptoms occur.

Chronic Viral Myocarditis

Treatment options may include medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. With the right treatment, Chronic Viral Myocarditis can be managed successfully and help prevent long-term complications.

What are the Clinical Classifications of Myocarditis?

Acute myocarditis may be classified in a variety of ways. Experts have recently proposed a three-tiered classification system for acute myocarditis, which increases the diagnosis and presentation certainty, as shown in the table below.

Subclinical Myocarditis

Subclinical myocarditis may be suspected by elevations in troponin (a biomarker of cardiac damage) or ECG, which assesses the heart’s electrical activity, after an acute viral illness, adverse medication reaction, or occasionally vaccination. It’s unclear whether these individuals have an increased chance of heart failure or arrhythmias. There is a need for further research to determine the long-term effects of subclinical myocarditis.

Definite Myocarditis

The heart tissue is examined for confirmed histological examination to determine whether certain myocarditis has been diagnosed. A cardiac sample may be inspected for the presence of particular inflammatory cells in the heart, which are generally absent.

Myocarditis resembling acute or chronic heart failure

Patients with myocarditis may have trouble breathing, fatigue, and an inability to exercise due to their enlarged hearts. These people generally have large hearts that become apparent approximately 2 weeks to a few months after upper respiratory or stomach infections (acute). Chronic myocarditis is an incurable disease of the heart’s chambers and structure. It may be due to a viral infection or heart muscle damage in some individuals.

Myocarditis resembling a heart attack

Chest pain caused by heart inflammation is a possible consequence of myocarditis. While the heart’s operation is generally unaffected, inflammatory cells may induce reversible coronary constriction as a result of the influx. Aching or discomfort in the upper back, which is relieved by leaning forward, suggests pericarditis or the pericardium being inflamed. Myocarditis of the heart muscle’s outside layers frequently accompanies pericarditis.

Myocarditis resembling a heart attack

Pediatric Myocarditis

Infections are the most frequent cause of myocarditis in children, with Coxsackievirus B being the most common pathogen. Most pediatric patients have a mild illness and make a complete recovery without long-term heart damage. A small number of children, however, may experience serious complications such as congestive heart failure or life-threatening arrhythmias. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to the best possible outcome for children with myocarditis.

Lymphocytic Myocarditis

Lymphocytic myocarditis is a type of chronic myocarditis that is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a viral infection. The condition can lead to serious complications, such as heart failure if left untreated. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.

Myocardial Inflammation

Myocardial inflammation refers to the presence of inflammatory cells in the heart muscle. This can be caused by a number of things, including viral infections, autoimmune diseases, and certain medications. Myocardial Inflammation can lead to serious complications like heart failure or arrhythmias, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you think you may have it. There

What Should You Do With Suspected Myocarditis

If you think you may have myocarditis, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Myocarditis can be a serious condition and early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome. If you have symptoms of myocarditis, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. Once you are in the hospital, your doctor will likely order tests, such as a blood test or an electrocardiogram (ECG), to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for myocarditis may include medications and, in some cases, hospitalization. Severe myocarditis is very serious and should be treated immediately.

Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Cardiac MRI is a non-invasive imaging modality that can be used to diagnose and assess myocarditis. Cardiac MRI can show inflammation in the heart muscle as well as changes in heart function. In some cases, cardiac MRI may be used to guide treatment for myocarditis. Treatment for myocarditis may include medications, such as steroids or immunosuppressants, and in some cases, hospitalization. Cardiac MRI can be used to monitor the response to treatment and to assess for complications of myocarditis.

Chronic Inflammatory Cardiomyopathy

Chronic inflammatory cardiomyopathy (CICM) is a rare form of heart disease. It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the heart muscle and may be associated with viral infections, autoimmune diseases, or unknown causes. CICM can lead to congestive heart failure and arrhythmias. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome. Treatment for CICM may include medications, such as steroids or immunosuppressants, and in some cases, hospitalization. Cardiac MRI can be used to monitor the response to treatment and to assess for complications of CICM.

What to Takeaway

Myocarditis is a life-threatening disease of the heart that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. If you experience any of the symptoms associated with myocarditis, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Treatment for myocarditis includes rest, medications to control your heart rate and blood pressure, and in some cases, surgery. An AED may also be necessary if someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest due to myocarditis. Knowing the signs and symptoms of this deadly disease, as well as knowing how to treat it, could save your life or the life of someone you love.

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