Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

The inflammation of around the heart is medically termed as Pericarditis. It is an inflammation of a twin layered thin sac-like tissue (the pericardial sac). In all beings, there are two layers of pericardial sac known as visceral pericardium and parietal pericardium. In normal circumstances, these two layers are separated maintaining a certain potential space amidst. The usual task of pericardium is to store some amount of fluid to keep the heart in place and help in its proper functioning by preventing inter-layer friction.

But, when as a result of inflammation inside the human body, this pericardial sac gets overfilled with the fluid, a situation of pericardial effusion occurs. However, the roots of this effusion are hard to trace, yet in general it is mostly caused due to some viral infection or is a complication of any other severe disease like trauma etc.

How to Know If One Has Inflammation Around The Heart?

Inflammation around the heart is a rare case scenario and its symptoms should be paid attention to promptly. Out of the many cases reported till date, chest pain stays as the most common symptom. Usually a sharp and stabbing pain originates from the center of chest and soon radiates to upper back or neck area. This pain makes it hard for the individual to breathe properly. Unlike other chronic cardiac diseases, the signs of pericarditis become more harmful very quickly.

What is Behind This Inflammation Around The Heart?

Micro-organisms like viruses, bacteria or human immunodeficiency virus are profound causes of pericarditis. Not only can these, but leftovers of some inflammatory ailments also lead to pericarditis. The recurrent disorders leading to pericarditis are inclusive of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, ankylosing spondylitis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Previous history with organ failure or radiation therapy also makes a person susceptible to pericarditis.

How Serious Is Inflammation Around The Heart?

How Serious Is Inflammation Around The Heart?

There are many severe complications of inflammation around the heart i.e. pericarditis. The prominent one is cardiac tamponade. When extra fluid starts to accumulate in the pericardial sac, then it starts affecting functioning of the heart. This leads to decrease in blood pressure as the heart is experiencing ineffective pumping due to more physical pressure from the fluid-filled sac. Now, when the pericardial effusion increases rapidly due to some disease, the heart is forced to adapt the symptoms which lead to shortness of breath. In worst cases, cardiac tamponade can cause distended neck veins viz. a medical emergency where patient might go into a state of shock. For this crisis like condition doctors recommend emergent EKG, followed by chest X-ray and echocardiogram.

Echocardiogram is the best test known for proper diagnosis of pericarditis. In this test, the cardiologist observes the functioning of heart of the individual via 3D imaging of the heart. After checking on the person’s cardiogram test and their medical history doctors will go for the treatment.

In most cases, the seriousness of inflammation of the heart determines what level of treatment is needed. As if the patient has just got a mild inflammation, then medication and proper supervision can only cure it successfully. Yet, if the inflammation has gone sore, then draining would be considered.

Prompt drainage of the source is a must for accomplishing a healthy state of the patient. For this a plastic tube (medically termed as catheter) is pushed into the affected zone. It drains out all the extra fluid in the pericardium and hence returning heart to its normal functioning. However, with some patients, cardiologists leave the catheter inside only for some days, so as to ensure there is no further accumulation of fluid again. This is made to assure that the underlying illness causing cardiac effusion has faded off well and heart is back in a stabilized state.

Going by the statistical records, around 15 to 30% of people who have had pericarditis in the past, got it back again and eventually ended up having chronic pericarditis.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 3, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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