What are Causes and Complications of Chronic Pericarditis?

by Disease Fix Largest Disease Information Center
Pericarditis Causes
The cause of chronic pericarditis is unknown most of the times. However, it may be caused by cancer, tuberculosis, or an underactive thyroid gland (called hypothyroidism), and it sometimes occurs in people who have chronic kidney disease.

The most common known causes are viral infections, radiation therapy for breast cancer or lymphoma in the chest, and surgery of the heart. Chronic pericarditis may also develop due to conditions that may cause acute pericarditis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), an injury, or a bacterial infection.

In the past, tuberculosis was the most common cause of chronic pericarditis, but today it accounts for only a few cases. However, in certain countries such as in Africa and India, tuberculosis is still the most common cause of pericarditis.

Pericarditis can develop after a major heart attack also due to the irritation of the damaged heart muscles. Sometimes, pericarditis may develop a few weeks after the heart attack or a heart surgery also. This is called delayed pericarditis. This delayed pericarditis is also known as Dressler's syndrome.

Dressler's syndrome is also sometimes called post-pericardiotomy syndrome, post-myocardial infarction syndrome or postcardiac injury syndrome.

Other causes of pericarditis are:

  • Heart attack and heart surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer, tuberculosis, and other health problems
  • Injuries from accidents or radiation therapy
  • Certain medicines, such as phenytoin (an antiseizure medicine), warfarin and heparin (blood-thinning medicines), and procainamide

What complications can pericarditis cause?
Pericarditis can be life threatening in certain situations. It can cause severe complications. Inflammation around the heart develops. Some of the commonly observed complications of pericarditis are listed herein:

  • Some people with pericarditis such as those who have long-term inflammation and chronic recurrences can develop permanent thickening and scarring of the pericardium. But this is not very common. If this happens, the pericardium loses its elasticity and becomes a rigid tight muscle around the heart. The heart does not then work properly. This condition is called constrictive pericarditis and causes swelling of the legs and abdomen. A person experiences shortness of breath too.
  • When too much fluid deposits in the pericardium, cardiac tamponade can also develop. This is dangerous condition.
  • The excess fluid exerts pressure on your heart and doesn't allow it to work properly. Less blood leaves the heart, which drops the blood pressure. Cardiac tamponade can be life threatening if it isn't treated early.

Who Is at Risk for Pericarditis?
Pericarditis affects people of all ages, but men 20 to 50 years old are more likely to develop it than others. Even after getting treatment of acute pericarditis, 15-30 percent of them may get it again. Some of them may eventually develop chronic pericarditis also.

The underlying cause should be treated when possible. Chronic constriction has a definite surgical treatment, whereas transient cases may be reversible with anti-inflammatory therapy. One should contact the doctor immediately as the symptoms are noted so as to avoid severe complications of the disease.

Other Names for Pericarditis
  • Idiopathic pericarditis Acute pericarditis
  • Chronic pericarditis
  • Chronic effusive pericarditis and chronic constrictive pericarditis
  • Recurrent pericarditis

About Author:

Mohd Salman, is a medical science professional and is associated with DiseaseFix as a researcher. DiseaseFix develops health information modules for patients and provides a unique platform to allow access of reliable information of a variety of types for diseases.

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Joined APSense since, June 12th, 2017, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Dec 27th 2017 01:34. Viewed 519 times.


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