Acute myocarditis is characterized by the rapid development of life-threatening congestive heart failure and arrhythmias. Although the initial stages of this disorder apparently result from direct cytopathic effects on the atrial and ventricular myocardium, later stages of progressive decompensation may result from immune-mediated myocyte destruction. There has been recent improvement in understanding the role of this immunologic cascade. As a result, treatment now begins earlier in the course of the disease and can target both the virus and the immune response. Our ability to implement mechanical support in children as a bridge to transplant or recovery, even in children presenting in the final stages of their disease, has led to an improved outcome regarding morbidity and mortality.
University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, California, USA.
Correspondence to Juan Alejos, MD, Pediatric Cardiology, Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, B2-427 MDCC, Los Angeles, California 90095-1743