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Pericarditis Treatment and Drugs

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 9/27/2010

If you are looking for information on pericarditis treatment you are in the right place. Read on about the various treatment options for this condition.

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    Pericarditis treatment is not always necessary, but when it is it should be started as soon as possible for the best prognosis. Doctors will recommend the patient be confined to bed rest until they begin to feel better. However, other treatment methods may also be necessary. Sometimes the patient will only need one type of treatment, while others may need a combination of two or more.

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    Medications

    Medications to decrease swelling and inflammation associated with this condition may be prescribed to patients. Commonly prescribed medications include:

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These medications may help to reduce inflammation and swelling. They may also be beneficial in helping to alleviate any associated pain. Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin are often recommended.

    Colchine: This medication is used to reduce inflammation in the body. It may be the first line of treatment for this condition, or as a treatment if this conditions recurs. This medication can reduce the chance that this condition recurs, as well as reduce how long a patient's symptoms last. However, this medication may not be safe for patients with liver disease, kidney disease, or certain other medical conditions.

    Narcotic pain relievers: This type of medication may be prescribed when the patient is experiencing severe pain. Commonly prescribed narcotics may include morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.

    Corticosteroids: This type of medication may be prescribed to patients who are having recurrent symptoms of this conditions, or to those who are not responding to colchine or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Commonly prescribed corticosteroids include prednisone.

    If the underlying cause is bacterial, the patient may be treated with antibiotics, and if necessary, drainage.

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    Pericardiocentesis

    This is a procedure in which a catheter or needle is used to drain and remove any excess fluid from the patient's pericardial cavity. Patients will be administered a local anesthetic for this procedure, so they will be awake, but the area being worked on will be numb. Ultrasound guidance and echocardiogram monitoring is often done throughout this procedure. This procedure is typically done when the patient is hospitalized. During the patient's hospitalization, the drainage may go on for several days following this procedure. This procedure is also sometimes done when a condition known as cardiac tamponade is present.

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    Pericardiectomy

    If the patient is diagnosed with constructive pericarditis, this pericarditis treatment may be necessary. This is a surgical procedure in which the entire paricardium that is rigid and compromising the patient's heart function is removed. Patients will be hospitalized after this procedure and the length of their stay will depend on their overall health and how well they handled the surgery and are handling the recovery process.

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    Resources

    MayoClinic.com. (2009). Pericarditis. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MayoClinic.com: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pericarditis/DS00505

    MedlinePlus. (2010). Pericarditis. Retrieved on September 24, 2010 from MedlinePlus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000182.htm