Pericarditis is a condition where the thin, sac-like layer around the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.
Pericarditis causes severe chest pain, and this is caused when the irritated coats of the pericardium rub against each other. Pericarditis usually starts suddenly and is short-lived.
Chronic Pericarditis considered when the symptoms appear recurrently. Most cases are not severe and improve without treatment. Depending on the severity of the situation, medications administered, or surgery is necessary.
Early detection of this condition can help reduce long-term complications.
The cause of Pericarditis is difficult to determine. In most cases, Cardiologists cannot identify a specific cause or suspect a viral infection.
The following are some of the most common causes in which Pericarditis can occur.
Consumption of certain medications
Having had a severe Heart Attack
Having late Pericarditis, known as Dressler's syndrome after having a Heart Attack
Depending on the type of Pericarditis, the following signs and symptoms may occur:
Weakness, fatigue, or nausea
Difficulty breathing when reclining
Severe chest pain
Inflammation of the abdomen or legs
Diagnosis of Pericarditis
The Cardiologist will perform a physical exam, ask questions related to your symptoms, lifestyle, and medical history.
The Cardiologist can use a stethoscope to detect any abnormal sound related to Pericarditis; this sound is known as “pericardial rubbing.”
We group some of the possible tests that could be carried out:
An Electrocardiogram records the electrical activity of the heart
Echocardiogram produces video images of the heart, the size and shape of the heart can be observed, in addition to any abnormality
CT Scan allows obtaining images of the heart and chest and see if there is any risk of heart attack
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image)
Chest x-ray allows seeing the state of the lungs and heart
Treatment of Pericarditis
The treatment provided by your Cardiologist will depend on the severity of the Pericarditis. Mild cases of Pericarditis can improve without treatment.
Remember that before consuming any medication, your Cardiologist must assess your particular case and tell you which is the most appropriate medication for you.
The Cardiologist may prescribe medications to decrease inflammation, related to Pericarditis; some of these are:
Colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare)
If the Cardiologist detects a cardiac tamponade, you will likely require hospitalization.
For cases of cardiac tamponade, the doctor may recommend the following procedures:
Pericardiocentesis, this procedure allows you to remove and drain excess fluid from the pericardial cavity
Pericardiectomy, if you have constrictive Pericarditis, you may need to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the pericardium that is stiff and difficult for the heart to pump
Living with Pericarditis
In general, mild cases of Pericarditis may improve with rest and pain relievers prescribed by your doctor. Following the treatment provided by your Cardiologist and leading a healthy lifestyle could help enhance the quality of life.
Contact your doctor about how long you should be without doing some intense physical activity.
¿When to go to a doctor?
It is essential to consult a Cardiology specialist to diagnose Pericarditis and be able to start a treatment that helps you control your symptoms.
At the time of consulting your Cardiologist, try to keep a record of your pain with a detailed description of the symptoms, duration, and what you think triggered them. Also, mention any medications you are taking.
Contact your doctor if you have any of the symptoms mentioned or if you detect another abnormal symptom.
The stress test examines how the heart works during physical activity.
Your heart does a lot for you every day, show a little appreciation by adopting these changes in your daily habits
Have a constant feeling of danger, your chest hurts, your heart beats too fast, and you can't catch your breath... you could be having an anxiety attack