Accumulation of excessive fluid between heart and its surrounding sac (pericardium) is known as a pericardial effusion. This abnormal cardiac state causing irritation and swelling of pericardium is pericarditis. Under normal circumstances this tough twin layered sac, pericardium keeps the heart safe from inflammation, knock and jolts, inter layer friction etc. Usually the pericardial sac is filled with around 3 tablespoons of yellowish fluid, but in the state of effusion this fluid gets amassed all around the heart. In the slimmest case of pericardial effusion, the individual has a 100 mL of fluid and the worst case patients might have as max as 2 liters of fluid present in the pericardium.
Depending on the amount of fluid and nature of effusion, pericarditis may be acute or chronic. Acute pericarditis arises very suddenly but also doesn’t last long. However, the latter is a silent killer form of effusion. Chronic pericarditis slowly gathers small amounts of fluid within and doesn’t even show any major symptom. In both the scenarios, if the fluid gets drained organically then not much medication is needed. But if the case intensifies and patient encounters lethal symptoms then medication or surgery is undertaken for treatment.
Variations of Pericardial Effusion
When anyone suffers from pericarditis, the sac surrounding heart gets inflamed which leads to inter layer friction. This friction happens to cause multiple symptoms in the person and in acute cases very intense chest pain is observed. This rare disease is often very hard to examine even for best of the medical practitioners. Usually doctors suspect viral or bacterial infection which entered bloodstream as a prime cause of pericarditis.
Nonetheless, patient’s previous medical history is also taken into account while determining the roots of pericarditis. Sometimes an individual, who came across a major heart attack, might be prone to pericarditis. Even after the successful treatment of the attack some or the other heart muscle might not be properly healed and thereby lead to inflammation. In such cases when a previous cardiac treatment or ailment leads to pericardial effusion, cardiologists rather call it a Dressler’s syndrome. Analyzing the medical records, such delayed effusion is also termed by post-myocardial infarction syndrome, or post-pericardiotomy syndrome, or post-cardiac injury syndrome.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Pericarditis?
Despite the varied types of pericarditis, some major causes beneath the disease are mentioned hereby,
Trauma- Intense motor vehicle accidents or road injuries occasionally are left unhealed. If while meeting such an incident something strikes your chest tightly, it may cause internal damage to heart muscles. Any improperly cured cardiac tissue becomes susceptible to pericardial effusion in later stage.
Systemic Inflammatory Disease- Diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are caused by very lethal micro-organisms. During the treatment of these ailments, these viruses often find a way to enter the bloodstream. This infection of blood becomes a cause for pericarditis.
Pericarditis is a life taking disease and hence any symptom that may lead a thread to the disease ought not to be ignored. It starts by simple fever or chest pains, but the signs may be as harmful as nausea, heart murmurs, palpitations and/or bluish color of skin. Acute pericarditis induces severe chest pain in the individual giving way to a medical emergency.
The chief complications arising from pericarditis are constrictive pericarditis and cardiac tamponade. People suffering from chronic relapses and long-term inflammations develop a permanent hardening, thickening and contraction of pericardial tissues. This is referred to as constrictive pericarditis. Cardiac tamponade is the emergent situation where disproportionate fluid gets accumulated promptly in the pericardium. The only safe solution to pericarditis despite the cause is timely diagnosis and treatment.