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Acute Pericarditis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Acute pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium. The pericardium is the thin sac that surrounds your heart. A small amount of clear fluid between the heart and the sac allows the heart to beat easily. With acute pericarditis, the amount of fluid increases and may contain pus. This can cause problems with the way that your heart beats.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may develop an infection or bleeding when fluid in the sac is removed. Without treatment, you heart can scar. Your heart may not beat correctly, and there might not be enough blood and oxygen getting to your body organs. This may damage your organs and be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Activity:

You may need to rest and avoid physical activity. Ask your caregiver what you are allowed to do while you are in the hospital.

Tests:

  • 12-lead ECG: This test, also called an EKG, helps caregivers see damage or problems in your heart. Sticky pads are placed on your chest, arms, and legs. Each sticky pad has a wire that is hooked to a machine or monitor. Electrical activity in your heart muscle is recorded.

  • Echocardiogram: This test is also called an echo. It uses sound waves to show pictures of your heart and how your heart moves when it is beating. An echo can also find problems, such as fluid around the heart or problems with your heart valves.

  • Imaging tests: Tests such as computerized tomography scan (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) take pictures of your chest. This shows your caregiver the fluid around your heart.

Treatments:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine: This medicine may help decrease pain and swelling. It can also decrease a fever.

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.

  • Procedures: Pericardiocentesis may be done. This procedure can be used to collect a small amount of fluid for tests, and may also be used to drain extra fluid from the sac around your heart. If you often have symptoms of pericarditis, you may need to have balloon pericardiotomy or pericardiectomy. Ask your caregiver for more information about these procedures.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Acute Pericarditis (Inpatient Care)

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