What is Dressler’s Syndrome?
Dressler’s syndrome is a kind of pericarditis. Pericarditis is a condition in which the sac around the heart gets inflamed. This sac is known as the pericardium and has two layers that are separated from each other with fluid. The inflammation of the pericardium causes it to rub against the heart and eventually result in chest pain. Also, the excess fluid between the layers of the pericardium can build up that may cause pressure on the heart.
Dressler’s Syndrome is considered an immune system disorder that may be acquired after the damage of heart tissue or the pericardium. The heart tissue or pericardium may get damaged from surgeries, traumatic injuries, or heart attacks. Dressler’s syndrome is also known by other names that include postpericardiotomy syndrome, post-myocardial infarction syndrome, and post-cardiac injury syndrome.
Causes of Dressler’s syndrome
The exact cause of Dressler’s Syndrome is not clear yet. The scientists, researchers, and doctors believe that it has the most chances to occur when the immune system responds after the following events take place:
Severe or traumatic injury
If any accident or injury occurs, the immune system sends the cells and the antibodies to repair the area. This immune response by the immune system can sometimes cause a great amount of inflammation and pain in the chest.
Heart surgery or heart procedure
Dressler’s Syndrome can be caused due to heart surgeries or any invasive procedures that may include coronary angioplasty, placement of a stent, open-heart surgery, implantation of a pacemaker, coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac ablation, pulmonary vein isolation, etc.
The chances of developing Dressler’s Syndrome are very high in people who have had a heart attack also known as myocardial infarction.
Symptoms of Dressler’s syndrome
It is possible that symptoms of Dressler’s Syndrome do not occur in the initial days after you acquire this condition. It may take up to a few weeks to show symptoms. In fact, in some cases, the symptoms do not appear up to a few months after they acquire this condition. Symptoms of Dressler’s syndrome can be similar to the condition during a heart attack and may include the following:
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Severe pain in the chest, which may get worse with respiration or any movement
- Difficulty in breathing
- An increased rate of heartbeat or heart palpitations
- Pericardial effusion; the build of fluid between pericardium and heart
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms of Dressler’s Syndrome are not usually life-threatening. But they may worsen if not treated. You must seek medical assistance as soon as you notice these symptoms. Your doctor will diagnose your condition after a thorough examination.
Complications of Dressler’s Syndrome
If you leave Dressler’s Syndrome untreated for a longer period of time, it may cause complications that include the following conditions:
Pleural effusion: Pleural effusion is a condition that is marked by the retention of fluid in the membranes around your lungs.
Constrictive pericarditis: It is a condition due to chronic inflammation of the pericardium and is marked by the thickening or scaling of the pericardium. This scaling or scarring may cause the heart to become compressed and ultimately affect the heart’s ability to pump blood. Moreover, it may cause the backing up of blood in the lungs.
Cardiac tamponade: the severe inflammation of the pericardium can cause retention of fluids in the sac, pericardium. This condition is known as pericardial effusion. It can end up causing the heart to be under pressure, and therefore reducing its efficiency in pumping blood. Blood pressure will drop if the heart does not pump enough blood.
Constrictive pericarditis and Cardiac tamponade are very rare conditions to occur, but can lead to heart failure, shock, and can be deadly if not treated. Therefore, you must not take Dressler’s Syndrome lightly. It may cost a life if not provided accurate treatment.
Diagnosis of Dressler’s Syndrome
Like almost all autoimmune conditions, Dressler’s Syndrome is difficult to diagnose as it is symptoms are quite similar to those of other diseases. We can say that the symptoms of Dressler’s Syndrome are very common. Therefore, you cannot diagnose this condition on your own.
However, you may require a doctor to diagnose your condition after a few days or a few weeks of thorough check-ups. The doctor will ask for your medical history and perform physical examinations on you. They’ll look for any abnormalities in your heart or around it. Your healthcare provider can tell you to get some tests like:
- Chest Xrays
- Heart MRI scan
- Blood tests
Treatment of Dressler’s Syndrome through Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
Naltrexone is a drug that was basically known for its anti opiate effects if given in a low dose. However, in recent years, it has been proved that Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) also helps to treat autoimmune conditions due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the T-cell signaling and glial cell activation that ultimately reduces the inflammatory cytokines. This way the attack of the immune system on the healthy body cells is reduced, therefore improving the autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions include Dressler’s Syndrome as well. Hence, LDN can be used to treat Dressler’s Syndrome.
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