This past Thursday night, the Houston community of Kingwood was introduced to the Myocarditis Foundation at their first Myocarditis Foundation awareness event. Displays of our “Not a Blank Canvas Awareness Posters” were read by the attendees who were deeply moved by the impact that myocarditis had left on the small sampling of its victims.
Genevieve Rumore, our Executive Director, hosted the event and shared that we do not know the true global burden of myocarditis since so many cases are either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and can often be found on autopsy after a sudden death.
She did report that what we do know is that the incidence of myocarditis increases at puberty; it is more than twice as likely to occur in boys than girls; the most common cause of myocarditis is viruses, with the most common one being the coxsackie virus; myocarditis is a large cause of sudden death in children and young adults, and that the prognosis is good if the disease is caught early.
One of the Myocarditis Foundation Board Members, Dr. Jack Price, was the guest speaker. As well as being a pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Price is the Associate Director of the Pediatric Heart Failure Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. This is the first unit of its kind in the United States. Dr. Price reported that the 12 beds in the unit have been full most of the days since its’ opening in July of this year. Children come from all over Texas as well as neighboring states and Mexico to be treated in the unit.
Dr. Price reported on a recent study that was done at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) that looked at 180 consecutive admissions to the hospital with new onset heart failure. Nearly half of them had been seen by a doctor prior to this hospitalization and misdiagnosed with other diagnoses. (60% by their pediatricians and 40% by Emergency Room physicians.) This is why it is vitally important to educate doctors on this disease.
He reported that studies have shown that if myocarditis is properly diagnosed early, the Ejection Fraction (the amount of blood that is pumped from the left ventricle of the heart with each beat)can go from a low of 20%, back to a normal of 60% 3 months post initial onset. The key is early diagnosis.
Dr. Price also reviewed the methods of treatment used when a case of myocarditis is so severe that the heart needs to rest totally to heal itself, as when mechanical assist devices are used (ECMO and external heart pumps.)