Pericarditis is essentially a secondary process occurring in the course of some general infection. The local manifestations may be so slight as to escape observation and the general symptoms to which the local disease may give rise may be obscured by the constitutional disturbance of the primary general infection. It happens, therefore, that the diagnosis of pericarditis is more often made at the autopsy than clinically.
Dry or plastic pericarditis may occur without symptoms, and unless careful auscultation be made daily in the course of rheumatic fever, pneumonia, etc., the chief diagnostic sign, the pericardial friction rub may escape detection.
With effusion, pericarditis may cause an irregular remittent or intermittent type of fever, usually of moderate degree; respiration is often hurried; the pulse frequently quickened and altered in rhythm and quality, and there may be nervous disturbance. However, these same general symptoms may be present as the result of the
BILLINGS F. CLINICAL OBSERVATIONS IN PERICARDITIS.. JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(23):1503-1507. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.62470490001001