Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Heart disease health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Pericarditis

Pericarditis, also known as pericardial disease, is swelling or inflammation the pericardium sac of fluid surrounding the heart.

The main symptoms of pericarditis are a sudden, sharp and stabbing chest pain, or a dull ache chest pain that is often worse when lying down.

What causes pericarditis?

Causes of pericarditis include:

For some people, no cause can be found.

Pericarditis can be acute (occurring suddenly) or chronic (ongoing).

What are the symptoms of pericarditis?

When present, they may include:

How is pericarditis diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose pericarditis based on:

  • Reported symptoms
  • Physical examination
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) results

Other tests may be performed to determine the cause of pericarditis.

How is pericarditis treated?

Treatment is based on the cause and may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) to decrease the pain and inflammation.
  • Steroids, used occasionally for severe attacks.
  • Antibiotics, if the pericarditis is due to infection.

Most patients recover in two to four weeks.

What is constrictive pericarditis?

Constrictive pericarditis is a rare complication of pericarditis.

The pericardium becomes very thick or scarred.

What are the symptoms of constrictive pericarditis?

The symptoms are the same as pericarditis, with the addition of:

How is constrictive pericarditis diagnosed?

The same tests used to diagnose pericarditis are used to diagnose constrictive pericarditis. Other diagnostic tests used for constrictive pericarditis include:

  • Echocardiography
  • Chest X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT scan

How is constrictive pericarditis treated?

Treatment may include:

  • Analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents to treat pain or inflammation.
  • Diuretics to treat heart failure symptoms.
  • Antiarrhythmics to treat any heart arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation
  • Pericardiotomy (the surgical removal of the stiff pericardium from the heart).
Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 01, 2016

Heart disease newsletter

The latest heart health news and information, delivered to your inbox.
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
sick child
Dos and don'ts for childhood eczema
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition