Pericarditis is is inflammation of the heart's
covering or pericardium. This covering is composed
of two layers of fibrous tissue, which is filled with liquid.
The pericardium serves as a protective cover and cushion to the
heart, and reduces the friction as it beats.
When the pericardium is inflamed and irritated, it hurts - especially
when the person is lying down (because the heart weighs down on
The symptoms of pericarditis include:
- Chest pain
- Tenderness behind the breast bone
- Pain worsens with lying down and eases up when sitting up
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Diagnosis of Pericarditis
Your doctor would perform the following tests to diagnose pericarditis:
- Physical examination with a stethoscope
Raspy sound due to friction of the inflamed pericardium.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
Changes to the heart's electrical pattern can be observed with
- Chest x-ray
Enlarged heart can be seen with a chest x-ray.
In pericarditis, the pericardium becomes inflamed due to:
- Infection by bacteria, fungi, or viruses
The most common cause of pericarditis is viral infection following
an influenza, chicken pox or mumps.
- Heart attack
- Physical trauma that bruises the heart
- Immune system disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic
- Connective tissue disease
- Side effects of medications, such as penicillin and minoxidil
- Side effects of radiation therapy
Treatment for Pericarditis
The treatment for pericarditis are:
- Pain killer, if the symptom is very mild
- Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as corticosteroids
- Intravenous medication and hospitalization for serious cases
In most cases, pericarditis respond well to medications. This
condition is usually more serious if caused by underlying immune
system disorder, heart attack, cancer, and side effect of radiation.