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      Acute viral myocarditis

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          Acute myocarditis is one of the most challenging diagnosis in cardiology. At present, no diagnostic gold standard is generally accepted, due to the insensitivity of traditional diagnostic tests. This leads to the need for new diagnostic approaches, which resulted in the emergence of new molecular tests and a more detailed immunohistochemical analysis of endomyocardial biopsies. Recent findings using these new diagnostic tests resulted in increased interest in inflammatory cardiomyopathies and a better understanding of its pathophysiology, the recognition in overlap of virus-mediated damage, inflammation, and autoimmune dysregulation. Novel results also pointed towards a broader spectrum of viral genomes responsible for acute myocarditis, indicating a shift of enterovirus and adenovirus to parvovirus B19 and human herpes virus 6. The present review proposes a general diagnostic approach, focuses on the viral aetiology and associated autoimmune processes, and reviews treatment options for patients with acute viral myocarditis.

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            Cardiovascular magnetic resonance assessment of human myocarditis: a comparison to histology and molecular pathology.

            Myocarditis can occasionally lead to sudden death and may progress to dilated cardiomyopathy in up to 10% of patients. Because the initial onset is difficult to recognize clinically and the diagnostic tools available are unsatisfactory, new strategies to diagnose myocarditis are needed. Cardiovascular MR imaging (CMR) was performed in 32 patients who were diagnosed with myocarditis by clinical criteria. To determine whether CMR visualizes areas of active myocarditis, endomyocardial biopsy was taken from the region of contrast enhancement and submitted to histopathologic analysis. Follow-up was performed 3 month later. Contrast enhancement was present in 28 patients (88%) and was usually seen with one or several foci in the myocardium. Foci were most frequently located in the lateral free wall. In the 21 patients in whom biopsy was obtained from the region of contrast enhancement, histopathologic analysis revealed active myocarditis in 19 patients (parvovirus B19, n=12; human herpes virus type 6 [HHV 6], n=5). Conversely, in the remaining 11 patients, in whom biopsy could not be taken from the region of contrast enhancement, active myocarditis was found in one case only (HHV6). At follow-up, the area of contrast enhancement decreased from 9+/-11% to 3+/-4% of left ventricular mass as the left ventricular ejection fraction improved from 47+/-19% to 60+/-10%. Contrast enhancement is a frequent finding in the clinical setting of suspected myocarditis and is associated with active inflammation defined by histopathology. Myocarditis occurs predominantly in the lateral free wall. Contrast CMR is a valuable tool for the evaluation and monitoring of inflammatory heart disease.
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              Long-term outcome of fulminant myocarditis as compared with acute (nonfulminant) myocarditis.

              Lymphocytic myocarditis causes left ventricular dysfunction that may be persistent or reversible. There are no clinical criteria that predict which patients will recover ventricular function and which cases will progress to dilated cardiomyopathy. We hypothesized that patients with fulminant myocarditis may have a better long-term prognosis than those with acute (nonfulminant) myocarditis. We identified 147 patients considered to have myocarditis according to the findings on endomyocardial biopsy and the Dallas histopathological criteria. Fulminant myocarditis was diagnosed on the basis of clinical features at presentation, including the presence of severe hemodynamic compromise, rapid onset of symptoms, and fever. Patients with acute myocarditis did not have these features. The incidence of the end point of this study, death or heart transplantation, was ascertained by contact with the patient or the patient's family or by a search of the National Death Index. The average period of follow-up was 5.6 years. A total of 15 patients met the criteria for fulminant myocarditis, and 132 met the criteria for acute myocarditis. Among the patients with fulminant myocarditis, 93 percent were alive without having received a heart transplant 11 years after biopsy (95 percent confidence interval, 59 to 99 percent), as compared with only 45 percent of those with acute myocarditis (95 percent confidence interval, 30 to 58 percent; P=0.05 by the log-rank test). Fulminant myocarditis was an independent predictor of survival after adjustments were made for age, histopathological findings, and hemodynamic variables. The rate of transplantation-free survival did not differ significantly between the patients considered to have borderline myocarditis and those considered to have active myocarditis according to the Dallas histopathological criteria. Fulminant myocarditis is a distinct clinical entity with an excellent long-term prognosis. Aggressive hemodynamic support is warranted for patients with this condition.

                Author and article information

                Eur Heart J
                European Heart Journal
                Oxford University Press
                September 2008
                9 July 2008
                9 July 2008
                : 29
                : 17
                : 2073-2082
                Department of Cardiology, CARIM, University Hospital Maastricht , The Netherlands
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Experimental and Molecular Cardiology, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht University , Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 43 3882950, Fax: +31 43 3871055, Email: s.heymans@ 123456cardio.unimaas.nl
                Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author 2008. For permissions please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

                The online version of this article has been published under an open access model. Users are entitled to use, reproduce, disseminate, or display the open access version of this article for non-commercial purposes provided that the original authorship is properly and fully attributed; the Journal, Learned Society and Oxford University Press are attributed as the original place of publication with correct citation details given; if an article is subsequently reproduced or disseminated not in its entirety but only in part or as a derivative work this must be clearly indicated. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org.


                Cardiovascular Medicine

                inflammation, heart failure, myocarditis, virus


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