Constrictive Pericarditis

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Constrictive pericarditis is a type of pericarditis that develops if your pericardium — the protective sac around your heart — loses its elasticity and becomes rigid. This causes your heart’s movements to become constricted.


In most cases, constrictive pericarditis develops slowly over time and is chronic, but it can also develop suddenly. Most cases of constrictive pericarditis occur in men between the ages of 20 and 50, although the condition can also occur in women.


The symptoms of constrictive pericarditis include:

  • Severe swelling of the legs and abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain when breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Anxiety


Our Approach to Treating Constrictive Pericarditis

Heart specialists at Houston Methodist have expertise in the full range of diagnostic tests and imaging techniques needed to diagnose and design the most effective treatment plan for constrictive pericarditis.


In most cases, constrictive pericarditis can be treated using medication that reduces inflammation and pain.


However, if your pericardium has become very rigid and your heart’s function is significantly impacted, intervention may be required. Our heart surgeons have extensive expertise surgically removing a severely inflamed pericardium, which is called a pericardiectomy.


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