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Pericarditis

The pericardium is a thin membrane surrounding the heart. When this membrane is swollen or disturbed, it leads to Pericarditis. The inflamed pericardium increases the lubricating fluid surrounding the heart, thereby laying pressure on the heart. Pericarditis usually occurs after a heart attack or trauma. Any tumor or auto-immune disease can also bring on pericarditis.


Acute pericarditis causes sudden pain. This happens when the pericardium brushes against the heart's outer layers. Bacterial, viral or fungal infections can bring on pericarditis. This sometimes leads to pus in the pericardial sac. Pericarditis that occurs after a heart attack or surgery is referred to as Dressler's syndrome. It is a body autoimmune reaction. Constrictive Pericarditis occurs when the pericardial layers become stiff and stick together. This leads to swelling on the hands and feet as well as atrial fibrillation. Symptoms of pericarditis include shortness of breath while lying down and abdominal swelling. There may be low-grade fever and overall fatigue. Dry cough is noticed in some patients suffering from pericarditis. Chest pain with pericarditis is usually stabbing and felt in the center of the heart.


Diagnosis of pericarditis is done with ECG, MRI and chest x-rays. Complete Blood Count (CBC) and other blood tests to measure cardiac enzymes aid in diagnosing pericarditis. Rest is recommended and in severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. NSAIDS are prescribed to decrease the pain and inflammation. Any infection is treated with antibiotics. If atrial fibrillation is noticed, anti-arrhythmic are prescribed. Sometimes corticosteroids are used for treating inflammation. Diuretics aid in removing excess fluid. The pericardial fluid may be drained to aid better functioning of the heart.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 22, 2019