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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Pericardial Diseases

Question: Pericarditis and Sepsis

 heatherjoy77 - Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:22 pm


My just turned 55 year old father presented with pericarditis at his family doctor last month. It was detected with an EKG. He was admitted to the hospital. They ran some additional heart tests, said he would be fine, it wasn't life threatening. The next afternoon he went downhill very quickly (urine was rusty with lower output, blood/oxygen levels begane to drop, blood pressure began to drop) and was admitted to the ICU, he died a few hours later of sepsis. He was only in the hospital about 36 hours total.

Can pericarditis get into your bloodstream and cause sepsis? I was told it was viral pericarditis but he died of bacteria in his blood. How did the bacteria get there? Everything I've read online says pericarditis tends to clear up in a few weeks. Are the two even related?

How did he catch the pericarditis? Is it a virus you catch just in the air, like a cold or flu virus?

Having trouble understanding what happened. The hospital/ICU doctors were of little help as they said they were still waiting for the blood cultures to get back so they knew what they fighting. He died before the cultures came back.

Any input would be appreciated.
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:45 am

User avatar Hi,
The causes of acute pericarditis are many;
for example...
- viral(cytomegalo virus,HIV,Herpes virus) etc,
- bacterial (notably pneumococcal),
- fungal (aspergillus, histaplasmosis,candida albicans etc, &
- myocardial infarctions.

Risk factors for pneumoccocal pericardtis are advancing age (older than 55-65 years ), children younger than 6 months and immunocompromised states.

Primary (Invasive) Pneumoccocal pericardtis can be very fulminant and may result in death very rapidly.Certain communities (Apache & Navajo Indians, native Alaskans,and African Americans) have been found to be at a higher risk.

Usually there is a focus of infection which may remain occult.

From your description, one strong possibility is an invasive pneumococcal sepsis perhaps leading to pericarditis and acute cardiac tamponade leading to the tragic demise of your father.

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