How to Treat Pericarditis?

  • November 30, 2023
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How to Treat Pericarditis?

What is Pericarditis?

Pericarditis is a medical condition marked by the inflammation of the pericardium, a double-layered sac encompassing the heart, crucial for maintaining its integrity and functionality. This inflammation can result in varying degrees of chest pain, often the primary symptom of pericarditis. Ordinarily, the pericardium contains a small amount of fluid, facilitating the heart's smooth movement within the chest cavity. However, when inflammation occurs, the pericardial layers can rub against each other, causing discomfort and pain.

This inflammatory manifestation of pericarditis involves the inflammation of the delicate two-layered sac surrounding the heart, filled with fluid. It typically emerges suddenly and may endure for a few weeks to several months. Although pericarditis commonly resolves within three months, some individuals may undergo intermittent episodes over several years. Periodically, this inflammation leads to the accumulation of excess fluid between the pericardial layers, referred to as pericardial effusion.

Why Does Pericarditis Occur?

  1. Pericarditis can result from various causes, ranging from infections to autoimmune conditions and other underlying health issues. Infections, particularly viral infections, are a common trigger for pericarditis. Viruses such as the coxsackievirus and those associated with the flu can lead to inflammation of the pericardium. Bacterial infections, although less common, can also contribute to pericarditis.
  2. Autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues, can be another cause. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus have been linked to pericarditis. Additionally, pericarditis may occur after a heart attack, as inflammation spreads to the pericardium. In some cases, pericarditis can be a side effect of certain medications.
  3. The inflammation associated with pericarditis can have cascading effects on the cardiovascular system. In severe cases, it can lead to complications such as pericardial effusion, where excess fluid accumulates in the pericardial sac, and constrictive pericarditis, a condition where the pericardium becomes stiff and hinders the heart's ability to pump blood effectively.