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.
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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:
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You may need to rest and avoid physical activity. Ask your healthcare provider what you are allowed to do while you are in the hospital.
- 12-lead ECG: This test, also called an EKG, helps healthcare providers 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 healthcare provider the fluid around your heart.
- 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 healthcare provider for more information about these procedures.
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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.