Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac that surrounds and protects
the heart (pericardium). Pericarditis can cause an abnormal buildup of fluid
between the pericardium and the heart (pericardial effusion).
Pericarditis often improves without causing any damage to the
heart. But if pericarditis causes excess fluid to build up quickly,
pressure on the heart increases (cardiac tamponade), and the heart may
The most common cause of pericarditis is infection with a virus.
Other causes include bacterial infection, heart attack, chest injury, and medicine side effects.
Symptoms of pericarditis include:
Treatment for pericarditis may include medicines to reduce
inflammation and relieve pain and antibiotics if the cause is a bacterial
infection. If there is any fluid buildup, it may be drained.
April 5, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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