Under normal circumstances, the two-layered pericardial sac that surrounds your heart contains a small amount of lubricating fluid. In pericarditis, the sac becomes inflamed and the resulting friction from the inflamed sac leads to chest pain.
The cause of pericarditis is often hard to determine. In most cases, doctors either are unable to determine a cause (idiopathic) or suspect a viral infection.
Pericarditis can also develop shortly after a major heart attack, due to the irritation of the underlying damaged heart muscle. In addition, a delayed form of pericarditis may occur weeks after a heart attack or heart surgery. This delayed pericarditis is known as Dressler's syndrome. Many experts believe Dressler's syndrome is due to a mistaken inflammatory response by the body to its own tissues (autoimmune response) — in this case, the heart and pericardium.
Other causes of pericarditis include:
April 06, 2014
- Systemic inflammatory disorders. These may include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Trauma. Injury to your heart or chest may occur as a result of a motor vehicle or other accident.
- Other health disorders. These may include kidney failure, AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer.
- Certain medications. Some medications can cause pericarditis, although this is unusual.
- Shammas NW, et al. Pericarditis, myocarditis, and other cardiomyopathies. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2013;40:213.
- What is pericarditis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/peri/. Accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
- What is pericarditis? American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/What-is-Pericarditis_UCM_444931_Article.jsp#. Accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
- Imazio M. Clinical presentation and diagnostic evaluation of acute pericarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
- Acute coronary syndromes. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
- Crawford MH, ed. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Cardiology. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.; The McGraw Hill Companies: 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=8. Accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
- Imazio M. Treatment of acute pericarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 19, 2013.
- Lilly LS. Treatment of acute and recurrent idiopathic pericarditis. Circulation. 2013;127:1723.
- Imazio M, et al. A randomized trial of colchicines for acute pericarditis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:1522.
- Khandaker MH, et al. Pericardial disease: Diagnosis and management. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:572.
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