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What Is Myocarditis?

Myocarditis (pronounced my-oh-car-DIE-tis) is inflammation of the myocardium, the heart's muscle wall. This muscle contracts to pump blood out of the heart and then relaxes as the heart refills with blood.

Myocarditis can weaken your child’s heart muscle. If this becomes severe the heart cannot pump blood well to the rest of the body.

Blood clots can also form in the heart because blood is not moving through the heart well. Clots are dangerous because they can travel through the bloodstream to a small blood vessel and block the blood flow.

In some cases, myocarditis causes lasting damage to the heart muscle, known as cardiomyopathy.

Myocarditis in Children

In children, the most common cause of myocarditis is a viral infection, like influenza or the common cold. The virus itself can get into the heart and damage the muscle. Cells from the body’s immune system can also damage the heart muscle as they fight the infection.

Other causes include other kinds of infections, chemicals, radiation, allergic reaction to a medicine, and certain diseases that cause inflammation in the body.

Myocarditis at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has treated many children with myocarditis. Specifically, the heart failure service has extensive experience with the diagnosis and treatment these patients may require.

When you come to Children's, a team of people will take care of your child. Along with your child's cardiologist, you are connected with neonatologists, pulmonologists (lung doctors), cardiac intensivists, cardiac surgeons, respiratory therapists, nurses, child life specialists, social workers and others, if their expertise is needed. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)