Also known as: inflammation of the pericardium.

What is pericarditis?

The pericardium is a two thin layer sac that surrounds the heart. Normally, there is a small layer of fluid between the inner and outer layers. When the layers become inflamed, or infected, the condition is known as pericarditis.

What causes pericarditis? 

In children pericarditis is often seen following cardiac surgery to correct congenital defects of the heart. Other causes include; infections (viral, bacterial, fungal or protozoan), chest injury, and other medical conditions (connective tissue/ autoimmune disorders like lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis etc.).

What are the symptoms of pericarditis? 

The most prominent symptom of pericarditis is chest pain (usually described as “sharp”). Other symptoms include, low grade fever, trouble breathing, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, fatigue, fainting, and others.

What are pericarditis care options?

Depending on the underlying cause, treatments may include medications that reduce inflammation and antibiotics. Removal of the fluid by aspiration and surgery may be required. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/11/2018 2:00:08 PM

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