Causes of Pericardial Disease


Pericarditis often develops for unknown reasons. This is called idiopathic pericarditis. It is the most common type in North America.


Pericarditis can be caused by a bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic infection. This is called infectious pericarditis. A virus is the most common cause. This can be a gastrointestinal illness (a “stomach bug”) or SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The most common bacterial cause is tuberculosis.

Autoimmune Disorder

Sometimes, pericardial disease is caused by an autoimmune disorder, such as:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Sjogren’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Familia Mediterranean fever

Cancer or Cancer Therapies

Cancer itself can cause pericardial disease. Also, some cancer therapies, such as radiation to treat breast cancer or lymphoma, can lead to chronic constrictive pericarditis.

Immune Response

Sometimes, after a heart attack, heart surgery or procedure, your body’s work to heal itself can cause pericardial disease. This is called Dressler syndrome or post-myocardial infarction syndrome.


Traumatic pericarditis develops because of an injury to the chest, like hitting the steering wheel during a car accident.

Kidney failure

Uremic pericarditis develops due to kidney failure.


Some medications, like certain chemotherapy, immunotherapy and blood pressure medications, can cause pericardial disease.

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