Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, the thin sac (membrane) that surrounds the heart. There is a small amount of fluid between the inner and outer layers of the pericardium. Often, when the pericardium becomes inflamed, the amount of fluid between its two layers increases, causing a pericardial effusion. If the amount of fluid increases quickly, the effusion caused can impair the ability of the heart to function properly. A complication of pericarditis, which is a serious condition, is called cardiac tamponade.
The following are the most common indicators of pericarditis. However, individuals may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of pericarditis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Usually, the cause of pericarditis is unknown, but may include any or all of the following:
Specific treatment will be determined by your health care provider based on:
The goal of treatment for pericarditis is to determine and eliminate the cause of the disease. Treatment may include:
Pericarditis may last from two to six weeks, and there may be a recurrence of the disorder.
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