Types of Pericarditis

Although patients of all ages can contract pericarditis, not everyone has the same experience with the condition. Symptoms, complications, and treatment will differ depending on what caused the development of pericarditis. To help you better understand how this health issue impacts people across the nation, Myocarditis Foundation provides information and resources about the various types of pericarditis. We’re also committed to supporting the medical community’s research efforts to find viable treatments and even, one day, a cure.

Bacterial Pericarditis

This form of pericarditis occurs when bacteria transition into the pericardium, often from an infected area. Bacterial pericarditis frequently develops in people with pneumonia and those who undergo surgery. It may also stem from pericardiocentesis, a procedure conducted to drain fluid from the pericardium. Individuals with a compromised immune system have the highest risk of acquiring this condition.

Patients with bacterial pericarditis encounter numerous symptoms, from sharp chest pain and shortness of breath to fever and general fatigue. Most doctors prescribe antibiotics to heal the infection, and then corticosteroids and pain relievers to lower inflammation. If the doctor thinks your condition is more serious, they may suggest surgery.

Chronic Effusive Pericarditis

Chronic effusive pericarditis develops when fluid gradually accumulates between the two layers of the pericardium. Doctors are unsure about the exact cause for this type. Sometimes, it may stem from cancer, hepatitis, tuberculosis, hypothyroidism, or complications with surgery.

People with chronic effusive pericarditis often have chest pain, hiccups, shortness of breath, and feelings of dizziness. At the start of treatment, doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If these medications do not solve the issue, the doctor will perform pericardiocentesis to alleviate the often associated shortness of breath and to improve heart function.

Constrictive Pericarditis

Constrictive pericarditis happens when the pericardium grows scar tissue after inflammation or injury. Scar tissue calcifies in the pericardium, prohibiting it from expanding completely. As a consequence, this increases pressure around the heart. Two primary causes of constrictive pericarditis include bacterial infections and radiotherapy.

If you have constrictive pericarditis, you might encounter breathing troubles, tiredness, a swollen abdomen, or unexpected weight loss. Since the condition does not respond well to medication, often surgery is necessary for treatment. However, this is only done if the symptoms significantly impact a patient’s life. If medical care is delayed in constrictive pericarditis, one may develop liver damage and heart failure.

Post-Myocardial Infarction Pericarditis

A heart attack can injure cardiac tissue and potentially cause post-myocardial infarction pericarditis. This condition is divided into two types—early and late pericarditis. Early pericarditis occurs when the body cleans diseased heart tissue resulting in inflammation and swelling. Late pericarditis, or Dressler syndrome, develops weeks to months after a heart attack and happens when the immune system accidentally harms healthy heart tissue.

Individuals with post-myocardial infarction may experience a variety of symptoms, including chest and joint pain, dry cough, and an increased heart rate. Typically, doctors prescribe NSAIDs to treat this condition but may suggest surgery depending on the case.

Viral Pericarditis

Of all the types of pericarditis, this condition is the most common. It stems from a viral infection in the body and can cause a host of symptoms shared by other versions of the disease. Many people with viral pericarditis experience some form of inflammation. While there is no medication known to treat this condition, certain medications help mitigate the symptoms.

Understand Pericarditis with Myocarditis Foundation

If you want to learn more about the different types of pericarditis, reach out to the Myocarditis Foundation. Since 2005, we’ve helped individuals and families impacted by myocarditis and other pericardial diseases by raising awareness and stimulating research projects. Contact us today to learn more about how we serve patients and healthcare professionals nationwide.

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