What are the main functions of pericardial physiology?

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

Pericardial physiology includes three main functions. First, through its mechanical function, the pericardium promotes cardiac efficiency by limiting acute cardiac dilation, maintaining ventricular compliance with preservation of the Starling curve, and distributing hydrostatic forces. The pericardium also creates a closed chamber with subatmospheric pressure that aids atrial filling and lowers transmural cardiac pressures. Second, through its membranous function, the pericardium shields the heart by reducing external friction and acting as a barrier against extension of infection and malignancy. Third, through its ligamentous function, the pericardium anatomically fixes the heart.


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