Guidelines for Pericarditis

by Shaun Damon


Pericarditis is a condition wherein the pericardium (the outer sac that covers the heart) becomes inflamed. It is a serious illness which must be treated at once. Hospitalization and surgery is not required for Pericarditis. It can be treated with medication alone. At times, very mild cases of Pericarditis can recover even without medication.

Surgery and hospitalization is required only when Pericarditis gets very chronic and leads to other complications like Cardiac Tamponade and Constrictive Pericarditis. Cardiac Tamponade is an ailment in which, fluid builds up in the sac region of the heart, while Constrictive Pericarditis occurs when the sac become tight and stiff, looks swollen and scar tissues are formed on it. These serious complications hinder the functions of the heart.

Some guidelines which can be followed for treating and managing Pericarditis are mentioned below.

Treatment: The first step to managing Pericarditis is getting immediate medical help. The Doctor will call for a number of tests, which will ascertain the condition of the heart and determine if there has been any damage to the heart muscle. Tests that may be ordered include Chest and Heart MRI or heart CT scan, Chest X-Ray, Echocardiogram, Electrocardiogram, Antinuclear antibody (ANA) and blood culture, to name just a few.

After determining the nature and cause of Pericarditis, the health professional will prescribe some anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, which will lessen pain and inflammation. If Pericarditis persists even after two weeks, or if it reoccurs after a few weeks, colchicine may be prescribed. There are several other medicines which may be prescribed depending on the cause.

Complementary /Alternative Treatments

Warning: Pericarditis should be treated and managed by a medical professional only. Alternative therapy should be used only after consultation with the doctor. Also, Pericarditis may not be treated by alternative therapy alone, but should be used together with medical treatment.

Diet: People suffering from Pericarditis may be recommended to avoid sugar, alcohol, oily food and saturated fats, because they may increase inflammation. Diet low in salt is also important.

Supplements: Alternative supplements will not treat and cure Pericarditis, but they can help build up immunity. Some of the supplements which may be prescribed are:

  • Vitamins C, E and A; beta-carotene; selenium; zinc.
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Magnesium
  • Bromelain (enzyme derived from pineapple)
  • Fish oil

Only a health care provider can decide the right supplements and dose. Some of these supplements cannot be taken if the patient suffers from kidney damage or other medical problems, or is on blood-thinning medication, like aspirin and others. Hence, any supplement must be taken only under the guidance of a professional.

Herbs: Herbs are generally a safe option to strengthen immunity. Herbs can be taken in the form of dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), alcohol extracts (tinctures) or glycerin extracts (glycerites). Drink about two to four cups of herbal tea (1tsp herb with one cup hot water) everyday, unless specified otherwise. Leaves and flowers can be steeped for five to ten minutes, while roots take longer, about ten to twenty minutes.

Homeopathy: Some common homeopathy treatment options include, intake of Aconite, Spongia tosta and Cactus grandiflorus.
Herbs and homeopathy treatment should also be taken only under the supervision of a doctor who will decide the best treatment for each patient.

Follow-Up: It’s very important to schedule a follow-up. During this follow-up, the doctor may order a repeat x-ray or electrocardiogram, which will establish the progress of treatment.

References:     

  1. LeWinter MM, Tischler MD. Pericardial diseases. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 75.
  2. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/pericarditis-000126.htm

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
More articles from the General Health & fitness Category