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Myocarditis can attack hearts without warning
Date:11/12/2010

James "Jimmy" Armstrong hadn't missed a "Mac" in 28 years. At 44, he's one of the youngest "goats" in the Chicago Yacht Club. Sailors receive the designation of "goat" once they've completed 20 or more "Macs", the 333-mile boat race from Chicago to Mackinac, Mich. Armstrong has sailed the race every year since he was 16. But, he wasn't among the sailors this past July. Instead, he was in intensive care awaiting heart transplant following a harrowing experience spurred by severe case of myocarditisa little-known condition causing inflammation of the heart muscle.

"I don't remember much of what happened to me. A lot of it is a blur," said Armstrong, a local business owner and father of three young daughters. "I was thinking I had a bad cold or even food poisoning, and then suddenly my health spiraled out of control."

Armstrong had no prior history of heart problems. However, persistent bouts of dizziness and nausea sent him into the emergency room of his suburban hospital June 6. Cardiac imaging confirmed Armstrong had acute myocarditis. While not always life-threatening, in many cases it can lead to heart failure or sudden cardiac death. Physicians believe it is caused by either a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection; drug or chemical poisoning; or connective tissue diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

According to Northwestern Medicine Cardiologist William Cotts, MD, patients can often have fever, aches and severe fatigue similar to cold or flu-like symptoms. This can sometimes correct with no lasting damage. But in severe cases like Armstrong's there's often the presence of an irregular heartbeat and trouble breathingand symptoms usually present once the patient is already in heart failure.

This was the case with Armstrong. When he was referred to Northwestern Medicine's cardiac specialists at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, the myocarditis had so aggressively deteriorated his heart function that full
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Contact: Kris Lathan
klathan@nmh.org
312-926-7432
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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