Constrictive pericarditis occurs as a result of chronic inflammation of the pericardium. Although the condition is rare, if left untreated it can be deadly. To effectively screen patients’ clinicians must have an understanding of the symptoms, assessment, and treatment procedures.
Symptoms of constrictive pericarditis mimic those of diseases such as myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, pneumonia, influenza and connective tissue disorders. Overlapping symptoms make this rare condition even more difficult to diagnose. Signs or symptoms of constriction are markers clinicians may utilize to screen patients that present with risk factors and overlapping symptoms of the disorders previously listed.
Obtaining a through patient history and performing a physical exam are hallmarks of assessment. However, further evaluation is required to properly diagnosis the condition, which again is in part due to overlapping symptoms of other disorders. Advancements in technology have improved screening and assessment for constrictive pericarditis. Computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, echocardiography and invasive hemodynamic measurement are recommended assessment and diagnostic tools for this condition.
Surgery, specifically a pericardiectomy, is often the recommended course of treatment for constrictive pericarditis. In severe cases this may be the only option for patients. In the early stages of pericarditis observation and medications to remove access fluid are recommended along with painkillers and anti-inflammatories to manage discomfort. Decreased physical activity and sodium intake are also recommended along with corticosteroids. However, some members of the medical community argue against this course of action due to the destructive nature of the disorder. Additional research on this topic is recommended, especially for those preparing to enter the medical field.
1 Parks, J. and O’Brien, T. (2014, December 23). Constructive Pericarditis. Retrieved from emedicine.medscape.com.
2 (2016, May 5). Constructive Pericarditis. Retrieved from medlineplus.gov.
3 Healthline Newsletter (2016, January 4). Constructive Pericarditis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment. Retrieved from healthline.com.
4 Image retrieved from pexels.com