Pericarditis—Adult

Definition

Pericarditis is irritation and swelling of the pericardium, which is the thin sac that surrounds the heart. Extra fluid that builds up between the 2 layers of the pericardium restricts the heart’s action.
Pericarditis
pericarditis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The cause of pericarditis is often unknown. However, possible causes include:

Risk Factors

A weakened immune system may increase your chance of pericarditis.

Symptoms

Chest pain is a common symptom of pericarditis, especially over the left side or center of the chest. It sometimes spreads to the neck and left shoulder. It is usually a sharp, stabbing pain. Deep breathing or lying down may worsen the pain. Sitting up may lessen it. Other symptoms may include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Weakness and fatigue

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A stethoscope will be used to listen for a grating or rubbing sound in your heart. If the condition is severe, there may be a crackle sound in your lungs. The following tests may be performed:Images of your heart may need to be taken. This can be done with:Your bodily fluid may need to be tested. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests
  • Pericardiocentesis

Treatment

Treating pericarditis depends on the cause, if the cause is known. In many cases, when the cause is unknown or viral pericarditis is suspected, pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are given. In other cases, corticosteroids may be given. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections that cause pericarditis.If the fluid is seriously affecting the heart’s ability to pump, the fluid may need to be removed through pericardiocentesis, which is the same procedure used for testing. In rare cases, surgery may be performed.Depending on the cause of the pericarditis, the illness can range from mild to life-threatening. Acute inflammatory pericarditis usually subsides with treatment within a few weeks or months. However, pericarditis caused by chronic inflammatory diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis, may last longer or tend to recur.

Advertisement

Prevention

Pericarditis may be prevented in the future with certain anti-inflammatory medications. Talk to your doctor about whether this is right for you.

RESOURCES

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cardiovascular Society
http://www.ccs.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

References

Acute pericarditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 3, 2012. Accessed March 25, 2013.

Pericarditis. Texas Heart Institute website. Available at http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/Cond/pericard.cfm. Updated October 2012. Accessed March 25, 2013.

What is pericarditis? American Heart Association website. Available at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/What-is-Pericarditis%5FUCM%5F444931%5FArticle.jsp. Updated February 27, 2013. Accessed March 25, 2013.

11/4/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Imazio M, Brucato A, et al. A randomized trial of colchicine for acute pericarditis. N Engl J Med. 2013;369(16):1522-1528.

Revision Information

Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Current Research From Top Journals


Exercise During Pregnancy May Decrease the Risk of Cesarean Birth
December 2014

Exercise during pregnancy has been associated with many benefits for mom and baby. This review supports the trend and finds that even one day of purposeful activity per week may reduce the need for cesarean birth.

dot separator
previous editions

Maternal Caffeine Intake May Be Associated with Low Birth Weight
November 2014

Prevent Eczema in Kids with a Daily Dose of Moisturizer
November 2014

Broccoli Sprout Compound Associated with Reduction in Autism Symptoms
October 2014

dashed separator

Advertisement

Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »

 

Advertisement

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook