Pericarditis (inflammation of the heart sac)
General or Other | - Others | Pericarditis (inflammation of the heart sac) (Disease)
Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium (the fibrous sac surrounding the heart). A characteristic chest pain is often present.
Pericarditis most often affects men aged 20 - 50. It usually follows respiratory infections. In children, it is most commonly caused by adenovirus or coxsackie virus.
Substernal or left precordial pleuritic chest pain with radiation to the trapezius ridge (the bottom portion of scapula on the back), which is relieved by sitting up and bending forward and worsened by lying down (recumbent or supine position) or inspiration (taking a breath in), is the characteristic pain of pericarditis. The pain may resemble the pain of angina pectoris or heart attack, but differs in that pain changes with body position, as opposed to heart attack pain that is pressure-like, and constant with radiation to the left arm and/or the jaw. Other symptoms of pericarditis may include dry cough, fever, fatigue, and anxiety.
Causes and Risk factors
The causes of pericarditis are varied, including viral infections of the pericardium, idiopathic causes, uremic pericarditis, bacterial infections of the pericardium (e. g. , Mycobacterium tuberculosis), post-infarct pericarditis (pericarditis due to heart attack), or Dresslers pericarditis.
Pericarditis is usually a complication of viral infections, most commonly echovirus or coxsackie virus. Less frequently, it is caused by influenza or HIV infection. Some fungal infections can also produce pericarditis. Often the cause of pericarditis remains unknown. In this case, the condition is called idiopathic pericarditis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Due to similarity to myocardial infarction (heart attack) pain, pericarditis can be misdiagnosed as an acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack) solely based on the clinical data and so extreme suspicion on the part of the diagnostician is required. Ironically an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) can also cause pericarditis, but often the presenting symptoms vary enough to warrant a diagnosis.
The treatment choice for pericarditis depends on the cause as well as the severity. Mild cases of pericarditis may get better on their own without treatment.
The patient will likely need hospitalization if your doctor suspects cardiac tamponade, a dangerous complication of pericarditis due to fluid buildup around the heart. When cardiac tamponade is present, you may need a procedure called pericardiocentesis. In some cases of severe, recurrent pericarditis, your doctor might suggest surgically removing your pericardium (pericardiectomy). ...