Flu complication: Pericarditis

Why it occurs (1)

Pericarditis is when the fluid-filled sac surrounding your heart becomes swollen.

It can be acute (less than three months), recurring or chronic (more than three months).

The cause isn’t always clear but, in most cases, is thought to be caused by a viral infection such as the flu.

Treatment (1)

Pericarditis is not usually a serious condition.

It is usually treated on an outpatient basis with anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine or corticosteroids.

Impact if untreated (1)

In rare cases, pericarditis can develop into further problems, some of which can be life-threatening.

An estimated 1 in 10 people with a history of acute pericarditis go on to develop chronic pericarditis.

In a very small number of cases, pericarditis can lead to a large build-up of fluid, which prevents the heart from pumping blood around the body effectively.