Pericarditis: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, home remedy

Overview

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium that is a thin, two-layered, fluid-filled sac covering the outer surface of the heart. Pericardium plays an important role in providing lubrication for the heart, shielding the heart from infection and malignancy, and containing the heart in the chest wall. Moreover, when blood volume increases, the heart will not over-expanding with the protection of it. In a word, pericardium helps the heart function efficiently.

Pericarditis is always acute, which means it typically begins suddenly but lasts short. If symptoms develop more gradually or persist, pericarditis is considered chronic.

Pericarditis is common, affecting about 1 in 1000 people, in all age groups. But men 20 to 50 years old are more likely to develop pericarditis than others. And 1 out of every 4 people having had pericarditis will get it again.

 

Causes

The exact cause of pericarditis is often hard to determine. Many factors may lead to pericarditis. For example, viral infections are a common cause. Besides, pericarditis can occur in people who just have a major heart attack. People may also have a delayed form of pericarditis weeks after a heart attack or heart surgery. Other causes include:

  • Systemic inflammatory disorders: these may include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Trauma: injury to your heart or chest may occur as a result of a motor vehicle or other accident.
  • Other health disorders: these may include kidney failure, AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer.
  • Certain medications: some medications can cause pericarditis, though this is unusual.

Symptoms

Pericarditis has different classification types, such as acute pericarditis and chronic pericarditis. Based on the type, symptoms of pericarditis may include some or all of the following:

  • Sharp, piercing chest pain over the center or left side of the chest, which is generally more intense when breathing in
  • Shortness of breath when reclining
  • Heart palpitations
  • Low-grade fever
  • An overall sense of weakness, fatigue or feeling sick
  • Cough
  • Abdominal or leg swelling

Diagnosis

Initially, doctors will take patients’ medical history and ask questions about their chest pain and other symptoms. After that, they will perform a physical exam and check heart sounds, during which a stethoscope will be placed on your chest to check for pericardial rub, a characteristic noise made when the pericardial layers rub against each other.

Patients may need to undergo tests to help doctors determine:

  • Whether there is a heart attack
  • Whether there are signs of inflammation
  • Whether a bacterial or any other type of infection is present

One or more of the following procedures may also be performed:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Computerized tomography (CT)
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treatment

Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of pericarditis. Those who have a mild pericarditis even don’t need treatment. They may get better on their own over time.

Medications

Medications often prescribed for pericarditis include:

  • Pain relievers: help lessen inflammation, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

FDA Approved Drugs and User Comments: ASPIRIN

FDA Approved Drugs and User Comments: IBUPROFEN

  • Colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare): prescribed for acute pericarditis or as a treatment for recurrent symptoms. However, the drug is not safe for people with certain pre-existing health problems, such as liver or kidney disease.

FDA Approved Drugs and User Comments: COLCHICINE

  • Corticosteroids: if pain relievers or colchicine doesn’t work, a steroid medication may be prescribed, such as prednisone.

FDA Approved Drugs and User Comments: PREDNISONE

If you have symptoms of pericarditis, please visit your doctor for help as soon as possible.

 

Home remedy

1. Rest and reducing stress can help with the recovery, bodily stress, including intense exercise and physical activity beyond walking and stretching, can be harmful during pericarditis.

2. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is critical for improving the immune function. Cut off the processed foods, and eat more whole grain, fresh vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Especially, garlic, pineapple, citrus fruits(lime, orange, lemon) are beneficial.

3. No smoking during the treatment. Smoking is highly inflammatory and increases the risk for many diseases, including heart disease.

4. Take natural supplements to reduce inflammation

Hawthorn

Hawthorn, also known as mayflower or may bush, is a dense, thorny shrub in the rose family. Hawthorn has been used for centuries to promote healthy circulation. Recent studies suggest that hawthorn may support cardiovascular function and help maintain normal, healthy blood pressure levels. Clinical research has identified the compounds including flavonoids, such as vitexin-2″-O-rhamnoside are powerful antioxidants to protect the cells of the cardiovascular system from free radicals.

Fish oil

Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids that can help reduce the inflammation and provide relief from pain due to pericarditis.

Arjuna

Arjuna has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to help support a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.

 

 

Keywords: pericarditis; pericardium

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.