Pericarditis involves inflammation of the pericardium which is a thin layer of sac-like tissue that borders the heart as well as keeping it in place and allowing it to function. There is a small amount of fluid that separates the layers to avoid any friction.
The usual indication of pericarditis is chest pain brought about by the inflammation of the layers and possibly the rubbing action against the heart and feels like a heart attack. If an individual experiences chest pain, call for emergency assistance right away. Pericarditis is often linked with other factors such as fungal, bacterial or viral infections. The other likely causes include heart surgery or heart attack, injuries, other medical disorders and even medications.
In most instances, pericarditis is relatively mild and settles on its own with rest or simple treatment. Sometimes, intensive treatment is required to prevent any complications. The recovery period might take a few days up to weeks or even months.
What are the possible causes of pericarditis?
The exact cause of pericarditis is usually unknown, but viral infections are the typical cause. The condition often develops after a respiratory infection.
When it comes to chronic or recurring cases, it is the result of autoimmune conditions such as scleroderma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. These are conditions in which the immune system produces antibodies that wrongly attack the tissues or cells in the body.
Who are at risk?
It is important to note that pericarditis affects individuals of all ages, but men between the ages of 20-50 are more likely to develop it. Among those who are treated for acute pericarditis, a small percentage might develop it again where some later develop the chronic type.