Tag Archives: Pericardial Disease

What is a Pericardial Disease

Pericardial disease affects the double layered, fluid filled envelope of the heart called pericardium.

The function of the pericardium is to protect the heart from injuries and to isolate it from other chest infections. It also helps maintain the position of the heart and prevents it from overfilling. However, if the pericardium is absent congenitally or if it is surgically removed, it does not seem to affect the function of the heart significantly, so it can be considered not essential to maintaining life.

The space between the two layers of the pericardium is filled with just enough pericardial fluid to allow flexibility. When there is fluid accumulation in the pericardial space due to certain disorders, the pericardium expands to accommodate the extra volume. But, if the increase in fluid volume is rapid with not enough time for the pericardium to expand outwards, pressure is inflicted on the heart, making it difficult for the ventricles to expand and fill with blood, causing a condition called pericardial tamponade or cardiac tamponade.

When the pericardium has holes or weak areas, a blood vessel or even a part of the heart may be pushed through a weak spot (hernia) and get trapped. This is a dangerous situation and sudden death may result. It is important to surgically repair such defects in the pericardium whenever detected, and if repair is not possible, the pericardium itself is removed.

Pericarditis or the inflammation of the pericardium is a very common disorder and it can be triggered by injuries to the chest, infections and cancer. When an inflammation develops suddenly, it is called acute pericarditis and an inflammation that slowly develops over several weeks following an injury or illness is termed sub-acute pericarditis. Chronic pericarditis is a prolonged condition lasting more than six months.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
You might also likeclose