Pericarditis - Causes

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Did an inflammatory disease or infection cause your pericarditis? What was the cause?

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What causes pericarditis?

Pericarditis is usually from unknown causes (idiopathic). The cause may often be viral infections. Causes of pericarditis include:


  • Viruses
  • Bacteria (like tuberculosis)
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)

Inflammatory diseases:

Diseases that can cause generalized inflammation in other places within the body can also cause inflammation of the pericardium. Some examples include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Scleroderma
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Metabolic illnesses:

  • Kidney failure and uremia
  • Hypothyroidism

Heart disease:

  • Heart attack can cause direct irritation and inflammation of the pericardial lining.
  • Dressler's syndrome describes inflammation caused by an immune response to heart tissue damage from heart attack, open heart surgery, or a trauma.

Other causes:

  • Tumors
  • Radiation therapy
  • Medications
Return to Pericarditis

See what others are saying

Comment from: Joe, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 08

It is now clear that my pericarditis was caused by a thymoma tumor. However, at the time of the pericarditis no CT scan was done and it has taken another 18 months, together with the onset of myasthenia gravis before my local hospital decided that a CT scan should be performed. This has revealed pericarditis spreading beyond the capsule of the thymoma. Conclusion is unless the cause of pericarditis has been definitively established by some other method, a CT scan should be performed to detect any tumor at the earliest opportunity.

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Comment from: Peter, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: October 06

My first sign that I had a problem was during a normal run, which I normally go 7 to 8 miles and suddenly couldn't go 200 yards as I became totally out of breath. No heart pain or other symptoms, except lack of energy and so had to do other less energetic workouts. It took over 3 months for the doctors to identify the problem, and it was identified when I had an MRI looking at my liver, and discovered the pericarditis. It turned out that it was chronic, and the sac was removed where the surgeon found extreme calcification, that also had extended to my heart. The surgeon also had to scrape the heart as the sac had attached to the heart and there was calcification on the heart. No cause was identified, no infection or cancer.

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