Myocarditis Recovery and Rehabilitation: What You Can Expect

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  • Most patients successfully recover from myocarditis, but it may take up to seven years for a complete recovery.

  • Patients can aid their recovery by staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, and following a low-sodium diet.

  • Physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation programs can help you recover effectively.

  • Returning to work and any exercise programs should only be done based on your doctor’s advice.

If you’ve developed myocarditis and you’re currently receiving treatment for the condition, you may be wondering how long it’ll take to feel better.

Myocarditis can have a serious impact on the heart, meaning it will take time for your symptoms to improve and your body to recover completely.

Recovery times vary depending on the specific type of myocarditis diagnosed.

During your recovery journey, remember that everyone is different, so your body may bounce back faster or slower than others.

In this article, we will discuss the recovery process for myocarditis and when you can expect to feel an improvement.

The Outlook for Myocarditis Patients

Myocarditis occurs when the heart muscle becomes inflamed. This inflammation can be caused by the immune system's response to infections.

Inflammation of the heart is often a result of a viral infection or an autoimmune disease.

In severe cases, the heart muscle becomes so weak that it can no longer effectively pump blood to the rest of the body.

However, with the right treatment, most people will recover well from myocarditis. There’s also a possibility patients will not suffer from long-term effects on the heart.

Recovery times are different for everyone. It can take as little as a few months or up to seven years to fully recover from this condition.

There’s also a possibility of myocarditis recurring in patients.

Physical Therapy and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation

If you have severe myocarditis that weakens the heart muscle and affects your physical function, you may need to work with a physical therapist during your recovery.

Physical therapists can help myocarditis patients by:

  • Safely increasing their usual activity level

  • Gradually improving their cardiovascular fitness

  • Helping them regain their strength without excessively straining the heart

If your physical therapist gives you exercises to do at home, you must complete them each day to help rehabilitate your heart.

There are also cardiac rehabilitation programs that your doctor may recommend.

These programs help patients recover and improve their heart health through monitored exercise.

Physical Activity After Myocarditis

Before resuming exercise, you should consult your doctor, as physical activity strains the heart muscle.

As a general rule, physical activity should be avoided for at least three to six months after being diagnosed with myocarditis.

When you begin exercising again, start slowly and pace yourself as you regain your strength and abilities.

It may take time to regain your prior fitness levels and strength, so don’t overexert yourself when exercising after your recovery period.

A good idea is to set small goals for yourself that include doing a limited amount of physical activity each day and working your way up to more strenuous exercises.

Returning to Work After Myocarditis

If you are diagnosed with myocarditis, your doctor may recommend that you refrain from attending work. Rest is essential to your recovery, and working may prevent this.

Your healthcare provider can advise on when it would be safe to resume work, depending on your progress in your recovery.

The type of work you do will also be factored into your doctor’s decision. This is because more strenuous roles, like those that involve manual labor, will put too much strain on your heart. However, if you’re mostly sedentary at your workplace, you may be able to return to work sooner.

When you do return to work, it would be worthwhile to have a conversation with your manager about slowly easing back into your usual routine and responsibilities.

How to Aid Your Myocarditis Recovery

There are some things you can do in your daily life to help your body recover from myocarditis:

Continue your medication as directed

If you are receiving myocarditis treatment, such as medications to lower your blood pressure and reduce heart muscle inflammation, you must continue your treatment as prescribed.

Even if you are feeling better and your symptoms have eased, you shouldn’t stop any medication or treatments without first consulting your doctor.

If you’ve experienced severe myocarditis and received a pacemaker, adhering to your doctor’s recommendations is crucial to avoid damaging the device and ensuring it works properly.

Stay hydrated

Proper hydration can help the heart muscle to function and pump blood more effectively. Drinking plenty of fluids can help your recovery in the following ways:

Maintaining blood volume

Adequate hydration ensures the volume of blood in the body is sufficient to help with proper blood circulation, which is important as blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the heart.

Not drinking enough fluids can decrease blood volume and pressure, which could impair heart function, especially as the heart is already weakened from myocarditis.

Reducing cardiac strain

When you’re well-hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body.

It’s crucial when recovering from myocarditis to reduce strain on your heart as much as possible so that it can heal. Drinking fluids will help your heart recover without additional stress.

Regulating the body temperature

One of the more common symptoms of myocarditis is a fever. Staying properly hydrated can help regulate body temperature and manage the fever.

Improving energy levels

Hydration impacts how much energy we have. As you’ll likely have less energy than usual as you recover from myocarditis, ensuring you drink enough water may help you feel less fatigued.

Consider your diet

Those recovering from myocarditis should focus on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which provide essential nutrients needed for healing and recovery.

You should also take steps to lower your sodium intake and unhealthy fats, as this can put strain on the heart and potentially worsen your symptoms.

Consuming too much sodium can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure, meaning the heart has to work harder to pump.

This can make it more difficult for your heart to heal.

High-sodium foods to be wary of include fast food, processed meats, canned soups, pickled foods, and instant noodles.

Get plenty of rest

Resting is crucial for recovery from myocarditis, as it reduces the heart's workload and aids in healing.

The body’s natural healing process requires a significant amount of energy. Resting can help conserve your energy so the body can heal and recover.

Adequate rest is also vital for supporting the immune system, which is essential for combating infection. During sleep, the body releases cytokines, a type of protein that can help the immune system to reduce inflammation.

Finally, resting may help to minimize and manage symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest discomfort.

Keep track of your myocarditis symptoms

During your recovery, you’ll likely have follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. They may run blood tests or a cardiac MRI to monitor your heart’s recovery.

To prepare for these consultations and to provide your doctor with more insight into your recovery, keep a record of your symptoms.

For example, if you’re noticing that your chest pain is decreasing steadily or if you’re still experiencing shortness of breath, these are important things your doctor should know.

If certain symptoms persist, your healthcare provider may adjust your medications.

How to Get Support After a Myocarditis Diagnosis

Recovering from myocarditis can be emotionally distressing. If you’re still struggling with symptoms and feel your recovery is taking too long, you may be frustrated.

This is why you should seek support during your recovery.

Join a support group

Do some research and find out if there are any local or virtual support groups for people with heart conditions. Joining a support group can make you feel less alone in your journey to recovery.

Within a support group, you may often meet people who have experienced what you’re going through, and they could have some valuable advice to help with your recovery.

Try therapy

You may want to see a therapist while you are in recovery. Patients who’ve had myocarditis often face psychological stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

Working with a psychologist or counselor can provide the emotional support needed during the recovery process.

A therapist can advise patients on strategies and techniques to help them cope with recovery and the challenges involved.

How to Stay Comfortable During Your Myocarditis Recovery

There are some ways to make yourself more comfortable while recovering from myocarditis: Try different sitting and sleeping positions

Myocarditis symptoms, such as chest pain or heart palpitations, can make sleeping difficult.

You may want to use more pillows in bed than usual to get into a comfortable position for sleeping.

Try leaning forward and resting your arms on a surface, like a table, when sitting.

Wear the right clothes

Tight and restrictive clothing may exacerbate symptoms like chest pain or swelling in the extremities. To remain comfortable throughout your recovery, choose clothing items that are light and loose-fitting to avoid unnecessary strain on your body.

Where Can I Learn More About Recovery and Rehabilitation After Myocarditis?

If you’re concerned about your symptoms and you want to know more about myocarditis, LifeMD is here to help.

LifeMD can connect you to a team of medical professionals who can provide advice and treatment to manage your symptoms and answer any questions you may have about your recovery and rehabilitation after myocarditis.

Make your appointment today to get started.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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