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Pericarditis is a condition relating to the cover of the heart, manifested by chest pain.
Most cases of this illness are caused by a viral infection which usually ends in a few weeks. The only treatment is the application of anti-inflammatory drugs. However, there are causes of pericarditis requiring different treatments and its complications, although there are rare, can be severe.
The pericardium is a thin bag that covers the outer surface of the heart. It helps to anchor the heart in place and prevents it from moving heart in the chest. The pericardium has an inner and an outer layer of which there is a thin layer of liquid lubricant.
This disease usually means swelling.
The causes of pericarditis
Among the main reasons, pericarditis is the viral infection, including infections caused by viruses, Coxsackie, echovirus, influenza virus, adenoviruses, mumps virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viruses that cause hepatitis.
Other causes of illness include:
- bacterial infection – often producing the crude between the layers of the pericardium and may result due to infection after heart surgery; rarely the cause of pericarditis is syphilis or fungi,
- TB disease – usually combined with tuberculosis in the lungs or other parts of the body,
- uremic pericardial – inflammation brought about, in this case, cellular waste entering the bloodstream, and occurs in patients with renal insufficiency untreated,
- heart attack – pericarditis can appear in the event of damage to surrounding tissue of the heart, such as those occurring during myocardial infarction,
- problems arising from a heart operation – inflammation of the pericardium may take place for several days to a few weeks after open heart surgery,
- injuries – as a result of the deep wounds or serious damage to the chest,
- inflammatory diseases which manifest themselves in different parts of the body may cause pericarditis – diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, polyarteritis nodosa and systemic lupus erythematosus,
- radiotherapy for cancer treatment chest region
- neoplasms of the pericardium, the pericardium, moved to another part of the body,
- idiopathic pericarditis – occurs when it is not possible to find the cause, e.g., due to an unknown viral infection.
The symptoms of pericarditis
The symptoms of idiopathic and viral pericarditis manifested by chest pain and high temperatures. The pain arises in the middle of the chest or more towards the left side of the chest. This pain may be sharp and stabbing, sometimes continued uninterrupted and spread in the direction of your neck and shoulders. The pain occurs most frequently during deep breathing, coughing, runny nose or lying down. Often sitting position or bending over forwards can alleviate painful symptoms.
Additionally, may appear shortness of breath. For other than idiopathic inflammation and viral pericarditis, causes of inflammation of the pericardium may have similar or slightly different symptoms.
Complications of pericarditis are rare, but can happen, among them can be mentioned:
- accumulation of fluid in the pericardium – pericardial effusion, which can constrict the heart, impede its proper functioning, and cause shortness of breath,
- constrictive pericarditis can occur when pericarditis is not well treated for a long time,
- additionally may appear swelling of legs and ankles, and fatigue.
Diagnosis and treatment of pericarditis
Physical examination using a stethoscope can show so-called pericardial friction rub, which is the first suspicion of infection but does not occur in all cases. Sometimes it is necessary to perform other tests that will exclude other causes of chest pain:
- chest X-ray,
- magnetic resonance imaging,
- computed tomography,
- tests to help determine the viral infection,
- pericardial fluid is sampling for diseases such as tuberculosis.
The treatment of viral and idiopathic pericarditis involves the administration of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to help relieve pain and reduce swelling (inflammation). If the treatment lasts longer than 14 days, sometimes is needed the application of the drug colchicine, which helps minimise the risk of recurrence of inflammation. Sometimes are used steroid medications.
If we have to deal with other causes of disease is used treatment at an angle of particular health problems.