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Pericarditis - constrictive

  • Definition

    Constrictive pericarditis is long-term (chronic) inflammation of the sac-like covering of the heart (the pericardium) with thickening, scarring, and muscle tightening (contracture).

    See also:

    • Bacterial pericarditis
    • Pericarditis
    • Pericarditis after heart attack

    Alternative Names

    Constrictive pericarditis


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Constrictive pericarditis is most commonly caused by conditions or events that cause inflammation to develop around the heart, including:

    • Heart surgery
    • Radiation therapy to the chest
    • Tuberculosis

    Less common causes include:

    • Abnormal fluid buildup in the covering of the heart due to bacterial or viral infection or surgical complications
    • Mesothelioma

    Constrictive pericarditis may also develop without apparent cause.

    The inflammation causes the covering of the heart to become thick and rigid, making it hard for the heart to stretch properly when it beats. As a result, the heart chambers don't fill up with enough blood. Blood backs up behind the heart, causing heart swelling and other symptoms of heart failure.

    The condition is relatively rare in children.