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Pericarditis Medical Treatment
The patient who seeks for medical care complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath is often evaluated for serious heart and/or lung problems. Oxygen is often supplied, a monitor is used to assess heart rate and rhythm and an electrocardiogram is performed to look for potential acute heart attack. Vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and oxygen saturation may be performed.
If the health care practitioner has no evidence for concern about a potential life-threatening situation, a more thorough but perhaps less emergent approach to pericarditis treatment may be considered.
Self-Care at Home for Pericarditis
If an individual experiences chest pain at home, usually it is best for the individual to seek medical care particularly if the pain is new to the person. Chest pain may be an indicator of a life-threatening illness such as heart attack. It may be appropriate to take anaspirin and seek emergency medical care.
Ibuprofen is the drug of choice for pericarditis. It works as an anti-inflammatory minimizing pericardial irritation. It also acts as an analgesic pain medication. However, ibuprofen is not used if the person has a heart attack with pericarditis because it may interfere with cardiac healing.
Other medications may be considered depending upon the underlying cause of the pericarditis. It is important to note that the vast majority of cases are idiopathic and have no recognizable cause.
If cardiac tamponade occurs, pericardiocentesis may be performed to withdraw fluid from the pericardial space. This is both therapeutic and potentially diagnostic, since the fluids can be analyzed to assist in diagnosing the cause of pericarditis. If the pericardial fluid re-accumulates, it may be necessary for a surgeon to remove a small area of the pericardium to allow chronic drainage. This procedure is called a pericardial window.
In patients with constrictive pericarditis, the pericardium prevents the heart from filling and beating adequately. Pericardectomy is a treatment option, where the surgeon strips the pericardium from the surface of the heart.
After the diagnosis of pericarditis, follow up with the health care practitioner is recommended to monitor symptoms and to screen for potential pericardial effusion, cardiac tamponade, and constrictive pericarditis.
It is also important that any underlying disease be addressed and monitored.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/17/2015
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