Recognition and Initial Management of Fulminant Myocarditis: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2020 Feb 11;141(6):e69-e92. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000745. Epub 2020 Jan 6.


Fulminant myocarditis (FM) is an uncommon syndrome characterized by sudden and severe diffuse cardiac inflammation often leading to death resulting from cardiogenic shock, ventricular arrhythmias, or multiorgan system failure. Historically, FM was almost exclusively diagnosed at autopsy. By definition, all patients with FM will need some form of inotropic or mechanical circulatory support to maintain end-organ perfusion until transplantation or recovery. Specific subtypes of FM may respond to immunomodulatory therapy in addition to guideline-directed medical care. Despite the increasing availability of circulatory support, orthotopic heart transplantation, and disease-specific treatments, patients with FM experience significant morbidity and mortality as a result of a delay in diagnosis and initiation of circulatory support and lack of appropriately trained specialists to manage the condition. This scientific statement outlines the resources necessary to manage the spectrum of FM, including extracorporeal life support, percutaneous and durable ventricular assist devices, transplantation capabilities, and specialists in advanced heart failure, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiac pathology, immunology, and infectious disease. Education of frontline providers who are most likely to encounter FM first is essential to increase timely access to appropriately resourced facilities, to prevent multiorgan system failure, and to tailor disease-specific therapy as early as possible in the disease process.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; arrhythmias, cardiac; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; heart-assist devices; immunomodulation; inflammation; myocarditis.

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Multiple Organ Failure / diagnosis
  • Multiple Organ Failure / epidemiology
  • Multiple Organ Failure / etiology
  • Multiple Organ Failure / therapy
  • Myocarditis* / complications
  • Myocarditis* / epidemiology
  • Myocarditis* / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / diagnosis
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / epidemiology
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / etiology
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology