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Myocarditis: Care Instructions

Cross section of heart, with close-up of heart muscle that makes up the wall of the heart.

Overview

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. It may happen after an infection such as COVID-19, strep throat, or tuberculosis. It may also be caused by a reaction to a medicine or toxin. Some autoimmune diseases cause it too. Rarely, it occurs in older teens and young adults after they get certain COVID-19 vaccines.

Treatment depends on how severe the illness is. If you have other heart problems, your doctor will treat them at the same time. You may need to take medicine for your heart. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest, may be part of the treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Ask your doctor what level and type of activity is safe.
    • Do not play sports or do tiring exercise until your doctor says it's okay.
    • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Have a heart-healthy lifestyle.
    • Eat heart-healthy foods. This includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit sodium, alcohol, and sugar.
    • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
    • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
    • Manage other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
    • If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor.
  • Keep track of your weight daily, if your doctor asks you to. Weigh yourself every day at the same time of day, on the same scale, in the same amount of clothing.
  • Get all recommended vaccines. These help keep you healthy.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You cough up pink, foamy mucus.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or changed symptoms of heart failure, such as:
    • New or increased shortness of breath.
    • New or worse swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
    • Sudden weight gain, such as more than 1 to 1.3 kilograms (2 to 3 pounds) in a day or 2.3 kilograms (5 pounds) in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
    • Feeling dizzy or light-headed or like you may faint.
    • Feeling so tired or weak that you cannot do your usual activities.
  • You have a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.