Pericarditis is almost uniformly secondary to some other pathological process. It is usually an acute inflammation of the pericardium and subepicardial myocardium, with or without effusion, and its prognosis most often depends on the causative agent or underlying disease. The subsequent development of adhesive or constrictive pericarditis is always to be considered.
Smith and Willius1 in 1932 found the over-all incidence of pericarditis to be 4.2% (373 cases) in 8,912 necropsies. Of this 4.2%, 38.4% had adherent pericarditis, whereas acute pericardial disease was present in 58%. More recently, Griffith and Wallace2 reviewed 13,353 consecutive autopsies at the Los Angeles County Hospital and found 729 cases of pericarditis, an over-all incidence of 5.4%. In this latter series nonspecific idiopathic had the highest incidence of the acute inflammatory types, with rheumatic pericarditis also being high in frequency. They concluded that there has been a definite decrease in the incidence of
Parker RC, Cooper HR. ACUTE IDIOPATHIC PERICARDITIS. JAMA. 1951;147(9):835–839. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670260037011
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