The most common cause (up to about 80 %) of pericarditis is idiopathic,
meaning the reason cannot be determined. However, listed below are some known
causes of pericarditis.
Infections may cause inflammation of the pericardium and viruses such as the
influenza A and B are most common.
Other viruses can be involved, examples include:
Even less commonly, bacterial infections such as tuberculosis may cause
pericarditis and often bacterial infections are associated with the development
of constrictive pericarditis (see below). Other infectious causes include
parasites and fungi.
Illnesses that can cause generalized inflammation in the body can also cause
inflammation of the pericardium. Examples of these may include:
Other illnesses may contribute or cause pericarditis and examples include:
- Kidney disorders including patients on chronic dialysis.
- Patients having a heart attack can develop
pericardial inflammation because of the underlying heart muscle damage. This may
occur within days of the heart attack or may be delayed by 2-3 weeks. Dressler's
syndrome describes delayed pericarditis after heart attack or heart surgery. It
may be associated with lung inflammation and effusion (fluid accumulation).
- Hypothyroidism or decreased thyroid function may be associated with
- Cancers and other malignancies can be associated with pericarditis. The
pericardium can be inflamed by direct extension of cancer cells from nearby
structures or there can be hematogenous spread of abnormal cancer cells through
the blood stream. Lung cancer,
Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's are the common cancer causes of pericarditis.
- Trauma that injures the heart can cause inflammation of the pericardium. The
injury can be a direct blow to the chest causing a cardiac contusion or it can
be a penetrating injury to the chest and heart.
- Radiation cancer therapy can cause inflammation of the pericardium.
- Pericarditis can be an uncommon side effect of some medications. Examples
include some cancer chemotherapy medications, a few
heart medications (for example, procainamide
[Procan SR, Procanbid, Pronestyl, Pronestyl-SR],
[Dilantin, Dilantin Infatabs, Dilantin Kapseals, Dilantin-125, Phenytek,
Phenytoin Sodium Prompt]) and
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