Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium (the fluid-filled sac surrounding the heart). A characteristic chest pain is often present. It is a common heart disease.
There are three main types of pericarditis:
The most common symptom of acute pericarditis is sharp, stabbing chest pain which radiates to the bottom of scapula on the back, and is relieved by sitting up and bending forward and worsened by lying down (recumbent or supine position) or inspiration (taking a breath in).
Other symptoms include:
The cause of pericarditis is not clear, but is often associated with the infection such as:
Viral infections that cause a chest cold or pneumonia, such as the echovirus or coxsackie virus (which are common in children), as well as influenza
Infections with bacteria (much less common)
Some fungal infections (even more rare)
Other factors include:
Pericarditis is generally ruled out through symptoms and physical examination and recent history.
A diagnosis is usually confirmed by electrocardiogram (ECG). During an ECG, electrodes are placed on skin to measure the electrical activity of heart.
Further tests include are:
Most cases of pericarditis are successfully treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs work by reducing the inflammation of the pericardium. They also help in relieving the chest pain.
Severe cases may require:
There are two main types of chronic pericarditis:
Cardiac tamponade: Inflammation of the pericardium can lead to a large build-up of fluid inside the pericardium. The extra fluid puts the heart under pressure, which makes it unable to pump blood around the body effectively. This is known as cardiac tamponade.