Can I Protect Myself from Pericarditis?

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shutterstock_83084062A growing number of Americans have realized the importance of keeping their heart in great shape. As a result, more people are educating themselves about lifestyle factors that can help maintain good heart health.

This outlook includes learning more about conditions such as pericarditis. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the pericardium, the two thin layers of tissue that surround the heart. Pericarditis can disrupt the heart’s rhythm and, in rare cases, can be fatal. While pericarditis can affect all ages, men aged 20 to 50 are most vulnerable to this condition.

What Causes Pericarditis?

Pericarditis can be either acute or chronic. Acute pericarditis can happen suddenly and resolves within a few weeks, while chronic pericarditis develops gradually over time and may require sustained treatment. Although the cause of pericarditis is often unknown, it often develops after a respiratory infection. Chronic pericarditis is typically the result of an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or scleroderma.

What Are the Symptoms of Pericarditis?

For people who suffer from acute pericarditis, a common symptom may be a sudden, stabbing pain that usually occurs on the left or center of the chest. Other symptoms can include heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, coughing and weakness. Chronic pericarditis symptoms include fatigue and abnormally low blood pressure.

Prevention and Treatment

While you can’t completely prevent acute pericarditis from occurring, you can lower its risk and help it from becoming chronic. People who suffer from pericarditis should seek prompt treatment, and should receive ongoing medical care to best manage their symptoms. With rest and proper medical care, acute pericarditis may resolve on its own.

Research suggests regular flossing may actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions. By following a sensible heart care treatment plan, you can protect your heart health and help keep pericarditis at bay.