Treatment for pericarditis includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids. Severe cases of pericarditis may require surgery to remove the pericardium. The treatment of pericarditis can often be performed on an outpatient basis.
The following factors increase the risk for treatment in the hospital:
- High fever
- Slower onset of pericarditis symptoms (over 1-2 weeks)
- Moderate to large pericardial effusion by echocardiogram
- Evidence for congestive heart failure
- Failure to respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or aspirin therapy for the past week
- Elevated cardiac enzymes (troponin levels)
Treatment options for pericarditis include:
- Bed rest
- High-dose nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, NeoProfen)
- Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Oruvail)
- Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, Aleve)
- Indomethacin (Indocin)
- Narcotic pain medication:
- For moderate to severe pain
- For short term use only
- 4 to 6 week course has been shown to be effective at relieving pain and preventing recurrences
- Corticosteroid medications:
- Less commonly used
- Early treatment with corticosteroids has been associated with relapsing pericarditis
- Surgery for pericarditis:
- Removal of the pericardium
- Intravenous immunoglobulin:
- Has been used to treat some cases of chronic pericarditis
Pericarditis Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of pericarditis.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- Do I need a special exercise program?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for having pericarditis again?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Continue to Pericarditis Home Care
- Butany J, El Demellawy D, Collins MJ, Nair V, Israel NSh, Woo A, Cusimano RJ. Constrictive pericarditis: case presentation and a review of the literature. Can J Cardiol. 2004 Sep;20(11):1137-44. 
- Imazio M, Demichelis B, Parrini I, Giuggia M, Cecchi E, Gaschino G, Demarie D, Ghisio A, Trinchero R. Day-hospital treatment of acute pericarditis: a management program for outpatient therapy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Mar 17;43(6):1042-6. 
- Roodpeyma S, Sadeghian N. Acute pericarditis in childhood: a 10-year experience. Pediatr Cardiol. 2000 Jul-Aug;21(4):363-7. 
- Ross AM, Grauer SE. Acute pericarditis. Evaluation and treatment of infectious and other causes. Postgrad Med. 2004 Mar;115(3):67-70, 73-5.