Pericardium is a protective membrane covering around the heart in order to shield it from possible damages. Sometimes, this membrane starts to malfunction, causing the most common pericardial disorder called Pericarditis.
According to the American Heart Association, pericarditis is the inflammation of the pericardium wherein there is a small amount of liquid between the internal and external layers of the pericardium. When the inflammation occurs, the amount of liquid between those 2 layers grows, compressing the heart and interfering in its good functioning.
Pericarditis is a problem that can affect everyone, regardless of the age.
• In children, there is a high chance that this disease can appear after a surgery to repair congenic cardiopathy.
• An Infection (Viral, Bacterial, Parasitical).
• A traumatism or a chest wound.
• Connective Tissue disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
The symptoms of pericarditis can differ within each person, but the most common are:
• Chest pain that can be felt especially behind the sternum and sometimes under the clavicle, on the neck and in the left shoulder.
• Strong chest pain on the center or left zone of the chest, where the pain gets stronger if the person takes a deep breath
• Low fever
• Loss of appetite
• Irregular heart beats
Usually, doctors might hear an unusual sound in chest. Besides a physical exam and a full medical history, diagnostic procedures to determine whether it is pericarditis or not are:
• Blood Test (To evaluate the inflammation level)
• Thorax Radiography
• Echocardiography (This is a procedure that evaluates the structure and the function of the heart using sound waves that are registered on an electronic sensor to produce a moving image of the heart and the heart valves).
Lucky for us, there is a treatment for pericarditis, and this is based on the following factors:
• Age, general health status and medical history of the person
• How advanced the disease is
• The cause of the disease
• The expectative for the disease course
• The opinion or preferences of the person and doctor
The pericarditis treatment objectives consist of determining and eliminating the cause of disease. These treatments are usually:
• Medicines (For example, analgesics and anti-inflammatory)
• Aspiration (Extraction) of the liquid excesses
As other diseases, pericarditis can be eliminated if it can be detected promptly.