What is the role of myocardial infarction (MI) in the etiology of acute pericarditis?

Updated: Apr 02, 2019
  • Author: Sean Spangler, MD; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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After a transmural infarction, a fibrinous pericardial exudate appears within 24 hours, begins to organize at 4-8 days, and completes organization at 4 weeks. [18, 19] Pericardial pain occurs less frequently than the friction rub, which is often detected on the second or third day after an acute MI but may be heard within 24 hours and as late as 10 days.

Before thrombolytic therapy, infarct-associated pericarditis ranges from 7% to 23% of cases. At autopsy in one study, almost all patients were noted to have localized fibrinous pericarditis overlying the area of infarction. With thrombolytic therapy and direct infarct angioplasty, the incidence of post–MI-associated pericarditis has decreased to 5-8%.

Overall, pericardial involvement indicates a larger infarction, greater incidence of left ventricular dysfunction, and greater mortality. The pericarditis usually heals without consequence; effusions may occur, but they rarely lead to tamponade.

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