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All about Pericarditis

In most cases pericarditis develops as a complication of an underlying disease. Since it’s an inflammatory condition, it might seem that it could be the consequence of an infectious disease. However, there are different types of pericarditis depending in its cause:

  • Pericarditis caused by viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections. The most common infectious organisms include streptococcus, Epstein-Barr virus, Candida fungi, toxoplasma, echinococcus.
  • Pericarditis provoked by autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma.
  • Traumatic pericarditis that results from severe injuries or trauma in the chest area. Sometimes it can develop after a surgical intervention in this area.
  • Pericarditis developing due to tumors located directly on the pericardial layers or in the adjacent areas.
  • Pericarditis associated with serious metabolic disorders such as Addison’s disease.

The most common causes of pericarditis include rheumatism and tuberculosis. Besides, the provoking factors for pericarditis are myocardial infarction, endocarditis, allergic reactions, and radiation therapy.

Since this pathology usually develops as a complication of other diseases, it lacks specific clinical symptoms; however, depending on the type, pericarditis symptoms include any of the following:

  • Piercing or sharp pain in the middle or left side of the chest that can spread to one or both shoulders
  • Attacks of heart palpitations
  • Fever
  • Fast or irregular heart rate
  • Swelling of ankles, legs or feet
  • Breathlessness
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Dry cough

The goals of pericarditis treatment involve:

  • Relieving symptoms
  • Treating the underlying conditions
  • Preventing complications

Treatment methods and its duration are determined by the cause that provoked inflammation and complications, if any. Once experiencing first symptoms of pericarditis, one should seek medical advice as soon as possible.