Common causes of constrictive pericarditis include prior heart surgery, a history of radiation therapy, infections such as tuberculosis, chest injury, and other possible factors.
Constrictive pericarditis is a rare condition that involves changes to a part of the heart called the pericardium.
The pericardium is a fluid-filled sac surrounding the heart. This structure helps hold the heart in place and reduces friction as the heart beats. In constrictive pericarditis, the pericardium thickens. This creates added pressure that can have a negative effect on the heart.
This article will explore the possible causes of constrictive pericarditis, as well as its prevention, diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, and outlook.
Constrictive pericarditis may occur for several reasons. These range from prior heart conditions to infections such as tuberculosis.
Prior heart surgery
In rare cases, individuals who have undergone heart surgery may develop constrictive pericarditis. It
Although constrictive pericarditis is a potential heart surgery complication, it is extremely rare. Researchers estimate that it affects only
A history of radiation therapy
Radiation therapy involves the use of radiation to destroy certain cells in the body. This treatment is a
One possible side effect of radiation is fibrosis, which is the thickening and scarring of bodily tissues. Fibrosis in heart tissue
Individuals who undergo radiation therapy may develop constrictive pericarditis years or even decades later. A 2017 study examined a case in which this condition developed
Tuberculosis (TB) is the most common cause of this heart condition in developing areas of the world. However, TB is not prevalent in all areas. In areas with little incidence of TB, other infections cause
Inflammatory conditions and injury
Individuals may also develop constrictive pericarditis after a chest injury. This may occur due to trauma, such as during a car accident.
Other potential causes include:
- rheumatic fever
- kidney failure
- certain medications that suppress the immune system
- systemic lupus erythematosus
Constrictive pericarditis can develop for a variety of reasons. To learn more about causes and risk factors, a person may consider speaking with a doctor.
In some cases, it is possible to prevent constrictive pericarditis. In other cases, this condition may develop without a clear cause. This can make it difficult or impossible to prevent.
One way to help prevent constrictive pericarditis is to treat conditions that may cause it. Some of these include heart damage, infections, or inflammatory diseases, as discussed above. Promptly treating these conditions may reduce the risk of developing constrictive pericarditis later.
Individuals with a history of pericarditis also have a
A diagnosis of constrictive pericarditis
If they suspect constrictive pericarditis, they may then order certain imaging tests. These may include an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram. Both of these tests can help diagnose constrictive pericarditis and look for complications, such as pericardial effusion, or fluid around the heart.
Some individuals with constrictive pericarditis may not experience any symptoms. If they do, these symptoms
- breathing difficulties
- weight gain
- abdominal discomfort
- muscle wasting, or loss of muscle mass
Anyone experiencing these or other symptoms may wish to speak with a doctor. Only a medical professional can determine the cause of these symptoms and provide a diagnosis.
- a mild form of constrictive pericarditis
- only a few symptoms
- additional health conditions
Beyond surgery, there are less invasive treatment options that may be more suitable for some people. These may include medications such as:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- medications to treat underlying conditions, such as TB
Doctors may recommend one of these medications. They may also prescribe a combination of different drugs. To learn more about individual treatment options, it is best to consult a medical professional.
As constrictive pericarditis is a rare heart condition in the United States, information about long-term health outcomes remains limited.
With early diagnosis and prompt treatment, many individuals recover and return to daily living. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, mortality rates
Certain treatments may also affect an individual’s health outlook. For example, the 10-year survival rate for people who undergo pericardiectomy is around 50%. Although this procedure may be lifesaving, it may lead to long-term health risks in certain cases.
Below are some frequently asked questions about the causes of pericarditis.
What is the most common systemic cause of pericarditis?
What are the underlying causes of pericarditis?
What are four causes that are most commonly associated with acute pericarditis?
Infections, heart attacks, heart surgery, and inflammatory disease can all cause acute pericarditis. Other causes may include kidney failure, radiation therapy, and chest injuries.
Constrictive pericarditis is a rare heart condition. This condition involves swelling of the pericardium, a structure that helps protect and support the heart.
In the developing world, the leading cause of constrictive pericarditis is tuberculosis. In parts of the world where tuberculosis is uncommon, causes may include viral or bacterial infections. Some people may also develop this heart condition after radiation therapy or heart surgery.
Some individuals with constrictive pericarditis may be asymptomatic, whereas others experience difficulty breathing, fatigue, and weight gain.
Treating constrictive pericarditis may include surgery to remove the pericardium. Certain medications can also help manage symptoms in less severe cases.