Heart and Blood Conditions


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, such as 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. However, it is still quite rare for common childhood infections to lead to myocarditis. We cannot predict which person who is infected will go on to develop myocarditis.

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. We use state-of-the-art methods to diagnose myocarditis accurately and formulate the most appropriate treatment plan.

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.

Seattle Children's has been treating children since 1907. 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.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.