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Children: Many heart muscle infections are often not recognized in time

Children: Many heart muscle infections are often not recognized in time



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Inflammation of the heart muscle can be life-threatening. The pathogens can migrate to the heart by weakening the body. The consequences can be fatal.

By the age of 15, about every tenth child has undergone an inflammation of the heart. This is mild in 80 to 90 percent of cases and may not even be noticed. Around 3,500 children and adolescents in Germany fall ill so seriously each year that they have to be treated in hospital. Parents should therefore be aware of signs of an inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), the German Heart Foundation warns in a press release. It provides information about myocarditis in a new guidebook, which can be ordered free of charge by phone or e-mail.

Heart stumbling and racing heart
Myocarditis is often diagnosed much later in adults. In around 20 percent of cases, the diagnosis is only made after the autopsy of the deceased. Diagnosing cardiac muscle inflammation is relatively difficult, not least because of the unspecific symptoms. Clear key symptoms are not known. General malaise, fatigue, fever and shortness of breath are observed more often in the course of the disease, but are also associated with numerous other diseases. A small proportion of patients experience a stinging in the chest, heart pain, stumbling or rapid heartbeat, which at least provides reasonably reliable indications of heart problems.

Heart muscle inflammation occurs when the pathogens also affect the heart muscle in the event of a viral infection of the respiratory tract or digestive tract. This is the case for around 5 to 10 percent of all viral infections. Myocarditis is usually subclinical and heals completely without treatment. However, it can also lead to severe courses with cardiac insufficiency, shortness of breath and cardiac arrhythmia up to sudden cardiac death.

Myocarditis becomes chronic in about every third case. Then scar tissue forms in the heart muscle and this can lead to cardiac arrhythmias and a reduced pumping capacity. To avoid this, patients with an acute infection need to be physically gentle. Even after surviving myocarditis, exercise is taboo for at least six weeks. (at the)

The guide "Inflammation of the heart muscle - an often underestimated heart disease" can be requested from the German Heart Foundation by phone (069 - 955 128 400) or by e-mail ([email protected]). (pm)

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