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Heart Inflammation:

What Are the Risk Factors?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

You may have an increased risk for heart inflammation such as endocarditis, myocarditis, and pericarditis because of your age, sex, genetics, lifestyle, or medical conditions, autoimmune disease, certain medicines, and the environment.


Different age groups are at risk for different types of heart inflammation.

Although they can affect all ages, myocarditis and pericarditis occur more often in young adults. Pericarditis also commonly affects middle-aged adults.

Older adults are more at risk for endocarditis, caused by bacteria. In recent years, age-related heart valve infections have been on the rise.


Heart inflammation from endocarditis, myocarditis, and pericarditis is more common in men than in women, except when caused by autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which are more common in women.

Endocarditis and pericarditis occur twice as often in men as in women.


Genetics play a role in the risk of developing all three types of heart inflammation. Your genes may be partly responsible for how your body responds to infection and inflammation and whether you develop myocarditis or pericarditis.

People who have structural or congenital heart defects, such as problems with the heart valves, may be at higher risk for infection that can cause endocarditis.

Certain inherited conditions can affect your risk for heart inflammation. For example, you may be at higher risk for myocarditis and pericarditis if you have familial Mediterranean fever or tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome (TRAPS). These rare conditions that affect how the body controls inflammation.

Lifestyle Choices

Certain lifestyle choices raise your risk for endocarditis or myocarditis. 

These include drinking too much alcohol, which may cause inflammation of the myocardium and could lead to reduced heart function and heart failure.

Drug use, such as cocaine and amphetamines and intravenous drug use, may raise your risk for endocarditis.

Poor dental health increases the risk for bacterial endocarditis.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions can increase your risk of endocarditis, myocarditis, or pericarditis.

Some cancers, such as advanced lung and breast cancer or lymphoma, as well as some of the medicines used to treat these cancers, may cause myocarditis or pericarditis.

Diabetes can make you more likely to develop infections.

End-stage kidney disease can be a possible cause due to the buildup of waste products in the blood.

HIV/AIDS may lead to myocarditis from a number of reasons, including viral, bacterial, or a fungal infection.

Trauma or injury to the chest or esophagus may also lead to heart inflammation, as well as indirect injury to the chest wall.

Other Reasons

Heart inflammation may also be caused by infections, particularly from viral, bacterial, or fungal infections.

Viral infections are the most common cause of myocarditis and pericarditis. They may infect the heart muscle tissue, causing acute or chronic immune responses from the body.

Bacteria are the most common cause of endocarditis, which occurs when bacteria and blood cells form clumps, typically on the heart valves. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common type of bacteria that causes endocarditis. Bacteria can enter the blood during invasive medical procedures or intravenous drug use. Pericarditis caused by bacteria is rare in the United States and other developed countries.

Fungi are rare causes of myocarditis and pericarditis. Most commonly, fungal endocarditis is caused by either Candida or Aspergillus. These infections are more common in immunosuppressed patients, including those who have HIV.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus may cause pericarditis or myocarditis. They can also damage the heart valves, which can lead to endocarditis.


Medicines can cause side effects that may lead to myocarditis, pericarditis, or both. These medicines include antibiotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, diuretic, heart medication, psychiatric, seizure, vaccines and weight-loss medication.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors that may cause myocarditis include heavy metals and radiation.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can be helpful. Some suggestions include avoiding amphetamines, cocaine, or IV drugs and maintaining good dental hygiene.

Foods you may want to avoid because they are inflammatory include fried foods, processed meat, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup.

   Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are fatty fish, olives, turmeric, berries, avocados, leafy greens, green tea, cruciferous vegetables, coconut oil, mushrooms and bone broth.

   Here is a breakdown of some anti-inflammatory foods you may want to include during your day.

Fruits like, peaches, pineapple, mangoes, apples, berries, pears and oranges.

Vegetables like, broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, watercress, tomatoes and garlic,

Nuts and Seeds like pistachios, macadamia nuts, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.

Legumes like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans and peas.

Whole Grains like quinoa, couscous, millet, buckwheat and barley.

Proteins like salmon, chicken, turkey and eggs.

Healthy Fats like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter and avocados.

Herbs and Spices like turmeric, black pepper, rosemary, basil, oregano, cayenne pepper and dill.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response TestingĀ® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at