Pericarditis is the painful inflammation of the membrane surrounding your heart (pericardium). Doctors think viral infections cause pericarditis, but this has not yet been confirmed. Treatment for pericarditis focuses on relieving symptoms and reducing the risk of complications.
Find a Doctor at Dignity Health who can answer questions about your heart health, including pericarditis treatment, in the Bay Area. Our expert cardiac specialists provide treatment with respect, compassion, and humankindness, so you feel confident in your care.
Treating Pericarditis at Dignity Health
Many cases of pericarditis clear up within a few days or weeks with rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
However, your Dignity Health doctor may suggest alternative treatments if your pericarditis is severe, or if you develop complications. For instance, you may experience a potentially life-threatening drop in blood pressure caused by fluid buildup in the pericardium that stresses your heart.
Common treatments for pericarditis are:
- Antibiotics, if pericarditis is caused by a bacterial infection
- Prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone
- Surgical procedures to remove part or all of the pericardium, or to relieve pressure on the heart by removing fluid buildup
Your doctor may recommend surgery when inflammation of the pericardium is so severe that it prevents normal function. Chronic pericarditis that persists despite conservative treatment may also require surgery. However, surgical treatment of pericarditis is rare.
Assessing Your Treatment Options
Most patients get better with conservative approaches to pericarditis treatment. Be sure to discuss with your Dignity Health doctor the risks, benefits, likely outcomes, and goals of all recommended treatments, including medications. Also ask your doctor about reducing your risk of complications from pericarditis.
What You Can Do to Prevent Pericarditis
There are few known risk factors for pericarditis. Also, because the underlying cause is often unknown, prevention of pericarditis may not be possible. However, you can lower your risk of developing pericarditis by:
- Promptly treating chest infections, such as pneumonia
- Effectively treating acute pericarditis, so it does not become chronic
- Receiving regular medical checkups for autoimmune conditions, such as lupus
Following your Dignity Health doctor’s recommended treatment plan can help you recover quickly from pericarditis, and perhaps avoid another painful episode.
The skilled doctors and caregivers at Dignity Health are devoted to delivering the highest quality of cardiac care with kindness and respect. Take our online heart risk assessment to learn more about preventing heart conditions like pericarditis.
Dignity Health offers many advanced cardiac care treatments, including pericarditis treatment, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.