The pericardium is a thin but tough membrane that surrounds the heart. An infection of the pericardium leads to a condition known as pericarditis. The condition can develop over a long time, but come on suddenly and can become acute and chronic.
A bacterial, fungal or viral infection can cause pericarditis and it can even be caused by kidney failure, systemic lupus, scleroderma, rheumatic fever, tumors or rheumatoid arthritis. This condition could also develop in an individual following a heart attack, surgery or some serious chest injury. Certain medications that can suppress the immunes system too could cause this condition. Chronic tuberculosis could also be a cause in some rare conditions.
Pericarditis – Types
Acute Fibrinous Pericarditis
In this condition the pericardium gets inflamed with material known as fibrin
Acute Purulent Pericarditis
Thick pus covers the pericardium in this condition
Acute Constrictive Pericarditis
In this condition the pericardium is covered with fibrosis material that is calcified and is a dense mass
This condition is caused often due to long-term infections such as tuberculosis
The condition can cause symptoms like chest pain that could be severe and sharp at some times and overwhelming and aching at other times.
To diagnose the condition, your doctor will thoroughly first understand your medical history, and will carefully listen to your heart at the time of your physical exam. If you indeed suffer from pericarditis, the doctor will come across a pericardial rub, this is a grating or scratchy sound, that is heard through a stethoscope. This sound is limited to a small area, however, it can be amplified, when the patent is made to lean forward and hold his breath.
Other tests to be done to diagnose the condition include: Blood tests, chest X-ray, cardiac catheterization and an ECG or EKG (Electrocardiogram).
If the pericarditis is a condition caused due to a virus or an allergy, recovery will take about a few weeks. On the other hand, your doctor will also prescribe medications and would suggest surgery, if necessary. It is important that patients make appropriate lifestyle changes after the condition is diagnosed.
If the condition has been caused by a bacterial infection, anti-biotics will be used to treat it. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications or steroids may be used as well.
In case the treatment prescribed fails, pericardial resection surgery may be suggested to remove the portion of the pericardium that has been thickened or to remove the fluid that has been accumulating.
It is important that people follow a disciplined lifestyle to lower their risk of heart disease. It is important that one controls their blood pressure, blood cholesterol and diabetes to keep their heart strong. People should focus on living a healthy life by avoiding smoking, being physically active, consulting a Registered Holistic Nutritionist about a heart healthy diet and following a balanced diet. One must also focus on staying happy and not take too much stress.
Homeopathy too has some great natural treatments that can help keep one’s heart strong. If you are indeed looking for ways to keep your heart healthy, you should consult a homeopath for some natural treatments for a strong heart.