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Understanding Pericarditis
Monday, January 13, 2014 - 12 Noon (Eastern Time)

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Allan Klein, MD

  • Director
  • Center for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Pericardial Diseases
  • Cardiovascular Imaging Research

Douglas Johnston, MD

  • Staff Cardiac Surgeon
  • Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, which is a thin, two-layered, fluid-filled sac that covers the outer surface of the heart. It shields the heart from infection or malignancy and contains the heart in the chest wall. It also prevents the heart from over-expanding when blood volume increases, which keeps the heart functioning efficiently. Pericarditis develops suddenly and may last up to several months. If you could see and touch it, the membrane around the heart would look red and swollen, like the skin around a cut that becomes inflamed. Sometimes excess fluid develops in the space between the pericardial layers and causes a pericardial effusion (buildup of excess fluid around the heart). Pericardial effusion can cause cardiac tamponade, a severe compression of the heart that impairs its ability to function, and can be life threatening.

Take this opportunity to learn more about the symptoms and latest treatment options of pericarditis and have your questions by Dr. Allan Klein, MD and Dr. Douglas Johnston, MD from Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute.

Allan Klein, MD, is the Director of Cardiovascular Imaging Research, Director of the Center for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Pericardial Diseases and a staff cardiologist in the Section of Cardiovascular Imaging. He is also the Course Director for Diastology and Contrast Echo & New Technologies Courses. He is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiology. His specialty interests include cardiovascular imaging (echocardiography, cardiac MR and computed tomography (CT)), pericardial diseases, restrictive cardiomyopathies, valvular heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and diastolic heart failure.

Douglas Johnston, MD is a staff cardiac surgeon at the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and he specializes in adult cardiac surgery, surgery of the aortic valve and root, mitral and aortic valve repair, coronary artery surgery, re-operative cardiac surgery, and endovascular cardiac interventions as well as surgical treatment of pericardial disease.

This Health Chat will open on Sunday, January 12, 2014 to allow you to submit questions. We will try to answer as many questions as possible during the chat. Please create an account to attend the chat and submit your questions.