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Pericarditis
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Pericarditis

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HEART & BLOOD

Heart Disease

From MayoClinic.com

 

Treatment

In deciding upon treatment for pericarditis, your doctor will likely consider the underlying cause as well as the severity. Mild cases of pericarditis may get better on their own without treatment. People with more severe cases may need to be hospitalized for treatment.

Your doctor may recommend bed rest until you're feeling better. He or she may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and indomethacin, to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If your pain is severe, you might need stronger pain medications, such as a narcotic, for a short time. Doctors occasionally prescribe corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone, to curtail inflammation. However, corticosteroids have potential side effects, and there's a risk of rebound inflammation after you stop taking the drug.

You will likely need hospitalization if your doctor suspects cardiac tamponade. When cardiac tamponade is present, you may undergo a technique called pericardiocentesis. In this procedure, a doctor uses a sterile needle or a small tube (catheter) to remove and drain the excess fluid from the pericardial cavity. You'll receive a local anesthetic before undergoing pericardiocentesis, which is often done with echocardiogram guidance. This drainage may continue for many hours during the course of your hospitalization.

When a bacterial infection is the underlying cause of pericarditis, you'll be treated with antibiotics and drainage if necessary.

If you're diagnosed with constrictive pericarditis, you may need to undergo a surgical procedure (pericardiectomy) to remove the entire pericardium or sections of it that have become rigid and interfere with the functioning of your heart.

Acute episodes of pericarditis typically last from two to four weeks, but future episodes can occur. About 20 percent of people with pericarditis have a recurrence within months of the original episode, particularly if pericarditis is associated with a chronic underlying condition, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. People who have repeated episodes of pericarditis are often treated long term — for as long as a year — with an anti-inflammatory drug called colchicine.

If untreated, people with severe cases of pericarditis can develop life-threatening complications such as cardiac tamponade or constrictive pericarditis.

 

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