Are you suffering from Myocarditis?
In recent months, our clinic has seen an increase in patients with a complaint of myocarditis. Presumably, this increase is being caused by COVID-19 infection or, in some cases, may be a vaccine side effect. In any case, we have seen some outstanding, and often rapid, clinical successes with our patients suffering from this scary and painful condition.
What is Myocarditis?
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It is usually triggered by an infection or a substance (such as a drug or vaccine) which then leads to an immune response and subsequent inflammation.
Some of the known causes include viral infection (including COVID-19), bacterial infection (including that which causes Lyme disease), parasites, pathogenic fungi, certain medications and some illegal drugs.
What are the symptoms of Myocarditis?
The most common symptom of myocarditis is chest pain. This pain can be strong at times and may even be stabbing or sharp in character. This is often the symptom that sends many people to the hospital, thinking they are experiencing a heart attack.
Shortness of breath is also a very common symptom and may occur both with exertion and at rest. Abnormalities in heart rate and rhythm are also quite commonly felt. This may be experienced as a rapid heart rate, feeling like the heart is fluttering or maybe like the heart is pounding extra hard. Some patients report that even lying down, it feels like their heart is pounding rapidly.
Additional symptoms may include: fatigue, dizziness, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), palpitations, edema (fluid retention), and rapid breathing. Clinically, we also find that anxiety and insomnia frequently accompany this condition.
Conventional medicine treatment of Myocarditis
Often, myocarditis appear similar in nature to myocardial infarction (heart attack). In this case, it is important to seek emergency medical treatment to rule this out as a potential cause of the chest pain.
Treatment of myocarditis with conventional medicine will vary depending on the symptoms. In mild cases, rest and some medications may be used until the condition resolves.
Corticosteroids may be used to suppress the immune system in order to decrease inflammation. These drugs can be very effective in doing this, though long term use can have damaging side effects such as: high blood pressure, mood swings, fluid retention in the legs, digestive problems, weight gain, elevated blood sugar, increased risk of infection, and suppression of adrenal gland hormone production.
Medications may also be given for the heart such as diuretics (to decrease fluid retention), beta blockers (which slow and regulate heart rhythm), blood thinning medications (to reduce risk of blood clots), or anti-hypertensive drugs. These drugs may also come with a risk of side effects, especially when used long term.
In more severe cases, aggressive treatments may be needed if there is damage to the heart or where heart failure is occurring. These include more invasive treatments or potentially surgical treatments.
Can Chinese Medicine help the heart?
One of the benefits of Chinese medicine is that is has a history of being used in health care for more than 3000 years. In this time, it has served as a primary means of treating diseases, both acute and chronic, and as such, there is a wealth of information on the treatment of many health issues, including cardiovascular disease.
In our clinic, we are most often treating chronic cases of myocarditis. Acute cases are generally handled by emergency medical care. As long as the acute cases resolve appropriately, Chinese medicine may not be needed. However, when myocarditis becomes chronic or is not being effectively resolved with conventional medicine, Chinese medicine may provide the solution.
When it comes to chronic health issues, often Chinese herbal medicine excels where other treatments have failed. When using Chinese herbal medicined, we will often use combinations of herbal medicines in large formulas which are designed to address both the cause and the symptoms of the condition.
This poly-herbal approach is the result of centuries of clinical data on how these herbs work in real disease scenarios. The herbs are frequently combined in pairs or sets which are used both to increase the efficacy of the treatment but also to decrease the risk of side effects. This is one of the reasons side effects are so uncommon in Chinese medicine.
Herbal formulas are designed based on the patient's presenting symptoms and constitutional makeup. Generally, we like to see results fairly quickly and in many cases, we have seen relief of pain and other symptoms sometimes in as little as 1-2 days. In other cases, it may take 1-2 weeks to see prominent changes in symptoms.