Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium. If the pericardium is inflamed, a fluid is accumulating in the space between it and the heart; this so-called pericardial effusion can create new complications. Acute pericarditis is a strong and sudden attack of pericarditis. The cause is usually a viral infection, but it may also be rheumatic fever, connective tissue disease, and chronic kidney insufficiency. Acute pericarditis can, albeit very rarely, occur after coronary thrombosis or chest injury.
The main symptom is a pain, usually in the middle of the chest. The pain can spread to the left shoulder and worsen when a person takes a deep breath, coughs or turns around. Breathing difficulties may also occur.
Mild pericarditis is probably the common characteristic of viral diseases. Pericarditis, however strong it may be, is not accompanied by severe pain.
The main danger is threatened by pericardial effusion that can be increased so rapidly that it causes dangerous pressure on the heart. However, this is very rare. Pericarditis is generally not a difficult disorder, but may be associated with severely illness.
What to do?
Chest pains, especially if associated with difficult breathing, may be a symptom of several serious illnesses. So, if the pains are severe and last for more than a few minutes, contact your doctor. After examination, your doctor will probably refer you to diagnostic tests – X-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG) and blood tests. Searches will allow him to determine whether symptoms have occurred due to pericarditis and, if they are, to determine what is the root cause of the inflammation.
Pericarditis that has developed due to viral infection usually disappears without treatment; it disappears after 10 to 14 days and leaves no consequences. In some cases, especially when pericarditis is associated with coronary thrombosis, the doctor may prescribe the corticosteroids for faster healing. If pericarditis is caused by connective tissue disorders or metabolic disorders, basic disease should be treated. If the pericardial effusion endangers the heart, part of the fluid must be removed with a needle and syringe. The needle is stick in the pericardium through the chest. Such treatment is performed in a hospital, usually under local anesthesia.