Pericarditis


What is Pericarditis?

  • The inflammation of the thin, two-layered fluid-filled sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium) is known as Pericarditis.
  • This condition leads to friction between two layers when the heartbeats.
  • There are three different types of Pericarditis:
  • Acute Pericarditis: Inflammation develops suddenly and lasts for three weeks.
  • Chronic Pericarditis: Inflammation develops in a slow process and lasts more than 6 months.
  • Constrictive Pericarditis: Pericardium layer thickens and forms the scar tissue and makes the heart work normally.
  • In most cases, pericarditis will be acute.
Pericarditis
Pericarditis

What are the causes of pericarditis?

  • Viral infection: Most commonly due to gastrointestinal virus
  • A bacterial infection like tuberculosis
  • Fungal infection
  • Infection from parasite
  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chest injury
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Carcinoma
  • Genetic diseases
  • Certain medicines like phenytoin, Warfarin, heparin, or procainamide

What increases the risk of developing pericarditis?

  • Infection
  • Thyroid problems
  • Following a heart attack or heart surgery
  • Following radiation therapy
  • Percutaneous treatment like cardiac catheterization or radiation ablation therapy

What are the symptoms of pericarditis?

  • Chest pain is a common symptom of pericarditis and may get worse when patient cough, swallow, breathe or lie flat
  • Sharp and stabbing due to friction between the two layers
  • Pain in the back, neck or left shoulder
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in feet, legs or ankle and abdomen
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

What are the complications of pericarditis?

  • Cardiac tamponade: This condition is due to fluid in the pericardium that leads to improper functioning of heart and dramatic drop in blood pressure.
  • Chronic constrictive pericarditis: Permanent thickening and scarring of two-layered pericardium lead to severe swelling of abdomen and legs, shortness of breath.

How is pericarditis diagnosed?

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram:
    To identify the presence of fluid around the heart
    To determine emergency surgical treatment
    To differentiate ate a type of pericarditis involvement
  • Cardiac catheterization:
    To remove excess fluid(pericardial effusion) around the heart
    To differentiate the type of pericarditis
    To identify the blocks in blood vessels of the heart
  • CT scan:
  • Cardiac MRI:

How is pericarditis treated?

  • To reduce inflammation and swelling of legs or abdomen
  • Over the counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Colchicine: To reduce inflammation during acute pericarditis. Contraindicated during liver or kidney damage
  • Corticosteroids like prednisolone
  • Antibiotics during pericarditis caused by a bacterial infection
  • Pericardiocentesis: This procedure involves a needle or catheter to drain excess fluid in the  in the pericardial cavity

Pericardiectomy:

This procedure involves the removal of entire pericardium by open-heart surgery for chronic constrictive pericarditis



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Designed & Developed by R R Deepak Kambhampati.