Restrictive pericarditis or constrictive pericarditis is an inflammatory complication of an infection near the heart or a heart attack. The pericardium becomes misshapen and restricts the beating of the heart, usually in an irregular manner. This results in a fluctuation of blood pressure and associated symptoms typical of hypoxia.
The condition is difficult to diagnose and without further investigation is almost indistinguishable from restrictive cardiomyopathy. However, it does have some distinguishing features on imaging. X-rays and echocardiogram are the usual imaging methods used, but a CT Scan or MRI may also be useful.
First line treatment is usually diuretics to reduce inflammation and swelling. However, in extreme cases, surgery to remove the entire pericardium may be used. This is a last resort treatment as the mortality rate is about 6% even in the best circumstances.