Histological findings on repeat endomyocardial biopsy and changes in left ventricular ejection fraction early during immunosuppressive treatment were studied in 20 patients with documented myocarditis. All patients presented with heart failure of less than six months' duration and a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than or equal to 0.40. Repeat biopsy and assessment of ventricular function were performed at a mean (SEM) of 79 (17) days after the initial biopsy. At repeat biopsy eight patients had evidence of ongoing myocarditis and 12 showed resolved myocarditis. In eight (66%) of the 12 patients with resolved myocarditis ventricular function had improved significantly. Left ventricular ejection fraction also improved significantly in four of eight patients during treatment despite ongoing myocardial inflammation. Regardless of the histological findings on repeat biopsy, early improvement in ejection fraction was associated with an excellent long term prognosis--that is 83% survived for at least three years. Histological resolution of myocarditis during immunosuppressive treatment is not a prerequisite for improvement in ventricular function; and changes in left ventricular ejection fraction during the first three months of treatment are predictive of clinical outcome.
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