Pericardial Heart Disease

Pericardial Heart Disease in Morristown, NJ

pericardial heart disease morristown njPericardial heart disease, also known as pericarditis, refers to an inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart. This lining is known as the pericardial sac. When this lining becomes inflammed it causes chest pain and fluid to collect around the heart.

What causes pericarditis?

Often times pericarditis’s cause is unknown; however, a viral infection is usually to blame. However, bacterial infections such as tuberculosis and even HIV can cause pericarditis.

Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can also trigger pericarditis, as can certain metabolic disorders like kidney failure and hypothyroidism. Lesser-known causes of pericarditis include certain medications, radiation and tumors.

What are the symptoms of pericarditis?

The most classic symptom of pericarditis is chest pain. The pain may begin in the center of the chest and spread to the neck or back region. Some people experience a stabbing pain while others just experience a slight ache. The pain makes it difficult or painful to breathe and it may feel worse when you lie down. Along with chest pain you may also experience chills, shortness of breath, problems swallowing and fever.

How is pericarditis diagnosed?

When you come into the office we will discuss your pain symptoms and then perform a physical evaluation to pinpoint problems. Since pericarditis can also be brought about as a result of a chronic disorder or medication, we will also discuss your past medical history.

While we can often hear signs of pericarditis just by listening through a stethoscope, we will perform diagnostic testing to confirm our suspicions. The most common test performed is an electrocardiogram (EKG), which shows electrical activity occurring in the heart. Through certain abnormal changes in the electrical activity we are able to determine that your symptoms are indicative of pericarditis.

How do you treat pericarditis?

Since a virus causes many cases of pericarditis, our goal is to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with the viral infection. NSAID pain relievers are often used; however, those with more severe symptoms may need a prescription pain medication to alleviate symptoms.

If the fluid buildup has started to affect how your heart functions, then we will need to perform a pericardiocentesis, in which a thin needle is injected into the chest wall to remove the excess fluid. For those with recurrent bouts of pericarditis, a surgical procedure known as pericardotomy may be the best course of action against the condition.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about pericardial heart disease than contact our Morristown office at (973) 889-9001.