Pericarditis symptoms & causes in children

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What is pericarditis?

Pericarditis is a condition in which the sac-like covering around the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.

Why is pericarditis a concern?

When the pericardium is inflamed, it produces fluid. A large amount of fluid can compress the heart, limiting the ability of the heart to fill normally with blood, and thereby producing tachycardia (rapid pulse rate) and hypotension (reduced blood pressure).

What causes pericarditis?

There are multiple causes for pericarditis including:   

  • Infectious - viral, bacterial, tuberculous, fungal and protozoal
  • Postpericardiotomy syndrome - occurs in a small percentage of patients after the pericardium is surgically manipulated for cardiac surgery
  • Rheumatologic diseases - systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Drug-induced inflammation - notably hydralzaine or procainamide
  • End-stage renal disease
  • High-dose radiation associated with treatment of cancers, such as Hodgkin lymphoma

What are the symptoms of pericarditis?

Typical symptoms associated with pericarditis include fever and chest pain. The chest pain is often more severe when someone lies down and is less when she sits up and leans forward.

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