What is acute pericarditis?

Updated: Apr 02, 2019
  • Author: Sean Spangler, MD; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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Answer

Acute pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium characterized by pericarditic chest pain, pericardial friction rub, and serial electrocardiographic (ECG) changes (eg, new widespread ST-elevation or PR depression; new/worsening pericardial effusion). [1, 2, 3, 4] The first and last stages of ECG changes are seen in the images below.

Stage 1 electrocardiograph changes in a patient wi Stage 1 electrocardiograph changes in a patient with acute pericarditis.
Stage 4 electrocardiograph changes in the same pat Stage 4 electrocardiograph changes in the same patient as in the previous image, taken approximately 3 months after acute pericardial illness. The patient remained symptom free despite continued T-wave inversion.

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