Symptoms include sharp, severe retrosternal chest pain worse with inspiration and a supine position.
The classic physical finding is a pericardial friction rub. A low-grade fever is often present.
Diagnostic signs include diffuse electrocardiographic ST elevations and at least a small pericardial effusion on echocardiography; blood tests generally suggest systemic inflammation.
Treatment is directed at any underlying systemic disorder. Idiopathic or viral pericarditis responds to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and colchicine.
Complications include chronic recurrent pericarditis, cardiac tamponade, and constrictive pericarditis.
Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium. The acute form is defined as new-onset inflammation lasting <4-6 weeks. It can be either fibrinous (dry) or effusive with a purulent, serous, or haemorrhagic exudate. It is characterised clinically by a triad of chest pain, pericardial friction rub, and serial electrocardiographic changes. Constrictive pericarditis impedes normal diastolic filling and can be a medium to late complication of acute pericarditis. Pericarditis is the most common disease of the pericardium encountered in clinical practice.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Cardiology
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
KW declares that she has no competing interests.
Associate Professor of Medicine
University of PA Medical Center
VF declares that he has no competing interests.
East Surrey Hospital
Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust
SB declares that she has no competing interests.
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