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Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, which is the thin sac that surrounds the heart and the roots of the great vessels. There is normally a small amount of fluid between the inner and outer layers of the pericardium. When the pericardium becomes inflamed, the amount of fluid between its two layers increases, compressing the heart and interfering with its ability to function properly. Typically, the cause of pericarditis is unknown, but may include these causes:
Pericarditis is usually treated with analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain. When excess fluid seriously affects the heart's action, it may be drawn off with a needle. In some cases, surgery may be required.
Acute inflammatory pericarditis usually lasts two to six weeks. About 20% of pericarditis patients have a recurrence within months or, sometimes, years later. Each recurrence tends to be less severe until the episodes finally stop.
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Acute: An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.
Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms, without directly acting on the cause of inflammation, e.g., glucocorticoids, aspirin.
Asthma: A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Cardiovascular: Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.
Celiac Disease: (Gluten sensitivity) A digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten. Common symptoms include diarrhea, increased appetite, bloating, weight loss, irritability and fatigue. Gluten is found in wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, barley and sometimes oats.
Chronic Renal Failure: (CRF) Irreversible, progressive impaired kidney function. The early stage, when the kidneys no longer function properly but do not yet require dialysis, is known as Chronic Renal Insufficiency (CRI). CRI can be difficult to diagnose, as symptoms are not usually apparent until kidney disease has progressed significantly. Common symptoms include a frequent need to urinate and swelling, as well as possible anemia, fatigue, weakness, headaches and loss of appetite. As the disease progresses, other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bad breath and itchy skin may develop as toxic metabolites, normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, build up to harmful levels. Over time (up to 10 or 20 years), CRF generally progresses from CRI to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD, also known as Kidney Failure). Patients with ESRD no longer have kidney function adequate to sustain life and require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Without proper treatment, ESRD is fatal.
Electrocardiogram: A test that shows a tracing of the electrical conduction of the heart.
Hemolytic Anemia: Anemia caused by excessive destruction of red blood cells.
Nervous System: A system in the body that is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia and parts of the receptor organs that receive and interpret stimuli and transmit impulses to effector organs.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).
Tachycardia: Excessively rapid heart rate.
Tracheobronchitis: Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the trachea and bronchi.