Pericarditis

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).

Treatment

The cause of pericarditis must be identified, if possible.

Expectations (prognosis)

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.

Review

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

Pericardium
Pericarditis

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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