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Pericardial Disease


Pericardial disease refers to a group of conditions that affect the pericardium, a thin membrane that surrounds the heart. The pericardium has two layers: the inner layer, called the visceral pericardium, and the outer layer, called the parietal pericardium. Pericardial disease can cause a variety of symptoms, including chest pain, difficulty breathing, and abnormal heart rhythms. Treatment for pericardial disease may include medications, surgery, or other procedures to remove excess fluid from the pericardium or to repair any damage to the pericardium.


  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Fever such as pericarditis
  • Rapid breathing


  • Infection: Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium that can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
  • Heart attack: A heart attack can cause damage to the pericardium.
  • Cancer: Cancer can spread to the pericardium from other parts of the body.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation in the pericardium.
  • Trauma: Trauma to the chest, such as from a car accident, can cause pericardial disease.
  • Other medical conditions: Other medical conditions, such as kidney failure or hypothyroidism, can cause pericardial disease.

Risk factors


How to diagnose?

The healthcare provider will listen to the heart with a stethoscope and check for signs of fluid accumulation or abnormal heart rhythms. Blood tests can check for inflammation or infection, which may be associated with pericardial disease. Electrocardiogram records the electrical activity of the heart, which can be abnormal in people with pericardial disease. A chest X-ray can show if there is fluid around the heart, which may be a sign of pericardial disease. 

Echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a detailed image of the heart and surrounding structures, including the pericardium. CT scan or MRI tests can create detailed images of the heart and pericardium, which may be helpful in diagnosing pericardial disease.

In some cases, the healthcare provider may recommend a biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the pericardium and examined under a microscope. This confirms the diagnosis and determines the underlying cause of pericardial disease.

How to prevent it?

When do you need to see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of pericardial disease, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or abnormal heart rhythms. It's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, as early treatment can help prevent complications and improve the outlook for pericardial disease. If you have any risk factors for pericardial disease or have a history of heart problems, it may be a good idea to discuss your risk with your doctor and consider having regular check-ups to monitor your heart health.


Though acute pericarditis is usually associated with viral infection, it may be caused by various diseases, chest trauma, drugs and invasive cardiothoracic procedures.

The heart may become compressed which makes blood back up into your abdomen, legs and lungs causing swelling and symptoms of congestive heart failure. You might even develop an unusual heart rhythm.

Visit a doctor when you are suffering from heart problems!