Prevention and Treatment of Pericarditis

Updated:Jul 7,2016

Mature Doctor PortraitThe goals of treatment include:

  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Treating the underlying cause, if it is known
  • Checking for complications
Specific Types of Treatment
First, your doctor may advise you to rest until you feel better and have no fever. He or she may tell you to take over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and inflammation. Examples of these medicines are aspirin and ibuprofen.

Stronger medicine may be needed if the pain is severe. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine called colchicine and a steroid called prednisone.

If an infection is causing your pericarditis, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic or other medicine. You may need to stay in the hospital during treatment so your doctor can check you for complications. Symptoms of acute pericarditis can last from a few days to three weeks. Chronic pericarditis may last several months.

Other Types of Treatment
If you have serious complications from pericarditis, you may need treatments that require hospital stays.

Cardiac tamponade is treated with a procedure called pericardiocentesis, in which a needle or a tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the chest wall to remove excess fluid in the pericardium. This relieves pressure on the heart.

With constrictive pericarditis, the only cure is surgery known as a pericardiectomy to remove the pericardium..

Can Pericarditis Be Prevented?
Usually, acute pericarditis can't be prevented. You can take steps to reduce your chance of having another acute episode, having complications or getting chronic pericarditis. These steps include getting prompt treatment, following your treatment plan and getting ongoing medical care as advised by your doctor.

Living With Pericarditis
Pericarditis is often mild and goes away on its own. Some cases, if not treated, can lead to chronic pericarditis and serious problems that affect your heart.  It can takes weeks or months to recover from pericarditis. Full recovery is likely with rest and ongoing care, and this can help reduce your risk of getting it again.



This content was last reviewed March 2016.


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Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services