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Pericarditis

pericarditis Vall d'Hebron

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, the membrane covering the heart. Pericardial inflammation can come about for lots of different reasons: infection (viral, bacterial, fungal or parasite) or due to multiple non-infectious causes.

The pericardium facilitates contraction of the heart, and can contain a small amount of fluid under normal conditions. When it becomes inflamed, it can cause friction during contractions of the heart, or accumulate fluid, since the pericardium is a double membrane that can be filled with fluid in cases of inflammation

Description

The contractility and function of the heart are generally not compromised by the effect of pericarditis. Aside from infectious causes, pericarditis may be a secondary manifestation of myocardial infarction, kidney failure, a tumour or hypothyroidism. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or scleroderma can also cause pericarditis.

 

Symptoms

The main symptom is chest pain, which should be differentiated from angina or the pain caused by a hiatal hernia.

 

How is affected by the condition?

It affects all age groups and in younger patients (under 40 years old) it is usually caused by a virus.

 

Diagnosis

It can be done by auscultation (a friction noise can be heard when the heart contracts), by electrocardiogram (specific alterations) or echocardiogram

 

Typical treatment

It depends on the cause, since it is the cause that needs to be treated. In the case of viral pericarditis, the treatment is usually anti-inflammatory, usually with a very good outcome.

 

Typical test

Heart auscultation, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram.

 

Prevention

There is no specific prevention because pericarditis is a secondary manifestation of an uncontrollable infection or another illness. 

 

 

 

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