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Diagnosing Pericarditis - Article
ABSTRACT: Pericarditis, or inflammation of the pericardium, is most often caused by viral infection. It can also develop as a result of bacterial or other infection, autoimmune disease, renal failure, injury to the mediastinal area, and the effects of certain drugs (notably hydralazine and procainamide). The clinical features of pericarditis depend on its cause, as well as the volume and type of effusion. Patients with uncomplicated pericarditis have pleuritic-type chest pain that radiates to the left shoulder and may be relieved by leaning forward. Chest radiographs, Doppler studies, and laboratory tests confirm the diagnosis and provide information about the degree of effusion. In most patients, pericarditis is mild and resolves spontaneously, although treatment with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or a short course of a corticosteroid may be helpful. When a large pericardial effusion is produced, cardiac function may be compromised, and cardiac tamponade can occur. In patients with longstanding inflammation, the pericardium becomes fibrous or calcified, resulting in constriction of the heart. Drainage or surgical intervention may be necessary in patients with complicated pericarditis.
Acute Pericarditis - Article
ABSTRACT: Although acute pericarditis is most often associated with viral infection, it may also be caused by many diseases, drugs, invasive cardiothoracic procedures, and chest trauma. Diagnosing acute pericarditis is often a process of exclusion. A history of abrupt-onset chest pain, the presence of a pericardial friction rub, and changes on electrocardiography suggest acute pericarditis, as do PR-segment depression and upwardly concave ST-segment elevation. Although highly specific for pericarditis, the pericardial friction rub is often absent or transient. Auscultation during end expiration with the patient sitting up and leaning forward increases the likelihood of observing this physical finding. Echocardiography is recommended for most patients to confirm the diagnosis and to exclude tamponade. Outpatient management of select patients with acute pericarditis is an option. Complications may include pericardial effusion with tamponade, recurrence, and chronic constrictive pericarditis. Use of colchicine as an adjunct to conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy for acute viral pericarditis may hasten symptom resolution and reduce recurrences.
ABSTRACT: Acute pericarditis has many potential etiologies and typically presents as a sharp central chest pain that worsens with recumbency and is relieved by leaning forward. The pathognomonic physical finding of acute pericarditis is the pericardial friction rub, which is usually auscultated along the lower left sternal border. The electrocardiogram (ECG) is a useful, simple tool that may aid in the diagnosis of acute pericarditis. Typical ECG findings include diffuse concave-upward ST-segment elevation and, occasionally, PR-segment depression. ECG changes of both acute myocardial infarction and early repolarization can appear similar to ECG changes of acute pericarditis. However, these conditions can usually be excluded by an accurate history, physical examination and recognition of a few key features on the ECG.
ABSTRACT: Approximately 1 percent of primary care office visits are for chest pain, and 1.5 percent of these patients will have unstable angina or acute myocardial infarction. The initial goal in patients presenting with chest pain is to determine if the patient needs to be referred for further testing to rule in or out acute coronary syndrome and myocardial infarction. The physician should consider patient characteristics and risk factors to help determine initial risk. Twelve-lead electrocardiography is typically the test of choice when looking for ST segment changes, new-onset left bundle branch block, presence of Q waves, and new-onset T wave inversions. For persons in whom the suspicion for ischemia is lower, other diagnoses to consider include chest wall pain/costochondritis (localized pain reproducible by palpation), gastroesophageal reflux disease (burning retrosternal pain, acid regurgitation, and a sour or bitter taste in the mouth), and panic disorder/anxiety state. Other less common but important diagnostic considerations include pneumonia (fever, egophony, and dullness to percussion), heart failure, pulmonary embolism (consider using the Wells criteria), acute pericarditis, and acute thoracic aortic dissection (acute chest or back pain with a pulse differential in the upper extremities). Persons with a higher likelihood of acute coronary syndrome should be referred to the emergency department or hospital.
ABSTRACT: Acute pericarditis, inflammation of the pericardium, is found in approximately 5% of patients admitted to the emergency department for chest pain unrelated to acute myocardial infarction. It occurs most often in men 20 to 50 years of age. Acute pericarditis has a number of potential etiologies including infection, acute myocardial infarction, medication use, trauma to the thoracic cavity, and systemic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, most etiologic evaluations are inconclusive. Patients with acute pericarditis commonly present with acute, sharp, retrosternal chest pain that is relieved by sitting or leaning forward. A pericardial friction rub is found in up to 85% of patients. Classic electrocardiographic changes include widespread concave upward ST-segment elevation without reciprocal T-wave inversions or Q waves. First-line treatment includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and colchicine. Glucocorticoids are traditionally reserved for severe or refractory cases, or in cases when the cause of pericarditis is likely connective tissue disease, autoreactivity, or uremia. Cardiology consultation is recommended for patients with severe disease, those with pericarditis refractory to empiric treatment, and those with unclear etiologies.