Definition of Pericarditis
Pericarditis is a condition in which the sac-like covering around the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Pericarditis is usually a complication of viral infections, most commonly echovirus or coxsackie virus. Less frequently, it is caused by influenza or HIV infection.
Signs and tests
When listening to the heart with a stethoscope, the health care provider can hear a sound called a pericardial rub. The may be muffled or distant. There may be other signs of fluid in the pericardium (pericardial effusion).
The cause of pericarditis must be identified, if possible.
Pericarditis can range from mild cases that get better on their own to life-threatening cases. The condition can be complicated by significant fluid buildup around the heart and poor heart function.
Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine. Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/4/2010