Symptoms of pericarditis include:
- Coughing, which develops because the high pressure in the veings of the lungs causes fluid to be forced into the air sacs of the lungs.
- Fatigue, which is caused by interference with the heart's pumping action that prevents enough blood circulating to meet the body's needs
- Fluid pooling between the two layers of the membrane that covers the lungs (the pleura)
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling as fluid accumulates in the abdomen (ascites) or the legs (edema)
Chronic pericarditis does not cause pain.
In cases of chronic effusive pericarditis, there may be few or no symptoms, if the fluid collects slowly. This is because the pericardium can stretch gradually. However, if fluid collects quickly, the heart can become compressed and cardiac tamponande may occur.
Causes and Risk Factors
Usually, it is not possible to identify what causes chronic pericarditis.
Chronic effusive pericarditis may be caused by cancer, tuberculosis or an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Chronic constrictive pericarditis may be caused by infections, radiation therapy for breast cancer or lymphoma or any condition that causes acute pericarditis, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, injury or heart surgery.