What Happens When a Virus Hijacks Your Heart?

by Moin Uddin Ahmed Tipu

Myocarditis, a rare heart condition that can stem from some common viruses and bacterial infections, often affects young people, has very few symptoms, and goes largely undiagnosed.
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In this SICK, we sit down with Dr. DeLisa Fairweather, a PhD researcher from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Fairweather has studied myocarditis for roughly 25 years.

Unlike atherosclerosis, which is commonly linked to heart attacks, and involves your vessels and arteries, Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle itself and is often caused by viral infections, like Coxsackie (a.k.a. hand, foot, and mouth disease), influenza, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV.

Myocarditis occurs when said viruses that normally infect another part of the body, like the gut or the lung, go to the heart.

But what happens when the virus gets to your heart and why does it travel to your heart in the first place?

Find out the answer and more in this SICK.

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SICK is a new series that looks at how diseases actually work inside our body. We’ll be visiting medical centers and talking to top researchers and doctors to uncover the mysteries of viruses, bacteria, fungi and our own immune system. Come back every Tuesday for a new episode and let us know in the comments which diseases you think we should cover next.
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