Dressler's syndrome is a type of pericarditis, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericardium). Inflammation associated with Dressler's syndrome is believed to be an immune system response following damage to heart tissue or the pericardium, such as a heart attack, surgery or traumatic injury.
Dressler's syndrome symptoms include chest pain, much like that experienced during a heart attack, and fever.
With recent improvements in heart attack treatment, Dressler's syndrome is less common than it used to be. However, once you've had this condition, it may happen again.
Dressler's syndrome may also be called postpericardiotomy, post-myocardial infarction syndrome and post-cardiac injury syndrome.
Symptoms are likely to appear weeks to months after a heart attack, surgery or other heart injury. Dressler's syndrome symptoms may include:
When to see a doctor
Dressler's syndrome is thought to be related to an immune system response to heart tissue damage, such as from a heart attack or heart surgery. Your body reacts to the injured tissue as it would to any injury, by sending immune cells and proteins called antibodies to clean up and repair the affected area. But sometimes this response causes excessive inflammation in the sac enveloping the heart (pericardium).
Two rare but serious complications of Dressler's syndrome include the following conditions:
Preparing for your appointment
If you're experiencing chest pain that lasts more than a few minutes, get emergency care. When you see the admitting nurse and the doctor in the emergency room, you'll be asked a number of questions, which may include the following:
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor makes a diagnosis of Dressler's syndrome based on questions you answer about your symptoms and the results of an examination and tests. Diagnostic procedures may include the following:
Treatments and drugs
Treatment goals for Dressler's syndrome are to manage pain and reduce inflammation. Medications commonly used include the following:
If these drugs don't help, the following drugs may be prescribed:
Although its use is still being debated among heart experts, some doctors may prescribe colchicine after heart surgery to prevent Dressler's syndrome.
Last Updated: 2012-08-03
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