Dressler’s syndrome

February 1, 2017

Dressler’s syndrome is a type of pericarditis, inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericardium). Inflammation associated with Dressler’s syndrome is believed to be an immune system response following damage to heart tissue or the pericardium, such as a heart attack, surgery or traumatic injury.

Dressler’s syndrome symptoms include chest pain, much like that experienced during a heart attack, and fever. With recent improvements in heart attack treatment, Dressler’s syndrome is less common than it used to be. However, once a person had this condition, it may happen again. Dressler’s syndrome may also be called postpericardiotomy, post-myocardial infarction syndrome, and post-cardiac injury syndrome. Symptoms are likely to appear weeks to months after a heart attack, surgery or other heart injury.

Dressler’s syndrome can lead to serious complications. It can affect the way the heart works and cause cardiac tamponade. It can also cause scarring of the pericardium, which restricts the movement of the heart


Dressler’s syndrome is thought to be related to an immune system response to heart tissue damage, such as from a heart attack or heart surgery. The body reacts to the injured tissue as it would to any injury, by sending immune cells and proteins called antibodies to clean up and repair the affected area. But this response may cause excessive inflammation in the sac enveloping the heart (pericardium).

The immune system response that leads to Dressler’s syndrome may also contribute to accompanying conditions –

  • Pleurisy, inflammation of the membranes (pleura) around the lungs
  • Pleural effusion, a buildup of pleural fluid around the lungs

Some other causes of this condition include –

  • Trauma – Injury to the heart or chest region resulting in inflammation or infection
  • Diseases – Certain diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, AIDS and renal failure
  • Inflammatory Disorders – Rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, rheumatic fever
  • Medication – Certain medicines like tetracycline may cause pericarditis as a side effect, though this is very rare
  • Bacterial infections – Can be caused pneumococcus and rarely, anaerobic bacteria
  • Fungal infections – Usually caused by histoplasmosis. It can also be caused by Candida, Aspergillus and Coccidiodes, especially in people with compromised immune systems.
  • Radiation – Side effect of radiation therapy used to treat cancer


Symptoms include –

  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain from the swollen pericardium rubbing on the heart. The pain may be sharp, tight or crushing and may move to the neck, shoulder, or abdomen. The pain may also be worse when you breathe and go away when you lean forward, stand, or sit up.
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dry cough
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever (more common with the second type of pericarditis)
  • Malaise (general ill feeling)
  • Splinting of ribs (bending over or holding the chest) with deep breathing


Two rare but serious complications of Dressler’s syndrome include the following conditions –

  • Cardiac tamponade – Inflammation associated with Dressler’s syndrome may result in the accumulation of fluids within the pericardium (pericardial effusion). If too much fluid builds up, pressure on the heart forces it to work harder and reduces its ability to pump blood efficiently. This condition is called cardiac tamponade.
  • Constrictive pericarditis – This condition develops when recurring or chronic inflammation of the pericardium causes the sac to become thick or scarred. This condition also results in the heart working harder and pumping less efficiently.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or aspirin may be used to treat inflammation of the pericardium. A drug called colchicine is often used with these medicines.

Steroids are commonly used for Dressler’s syndrome. They are not often used for early pericarditis unless the condition does not respond to other treatment.

Pericardiocentesis – In some cases, excess fluid surrounding the heart (pericardial effusion) may need to be removed. This is done with a procedure called pericardiocentesis. If complications develop, part of the pericardium may need to be removed with surgery (pericardiectomy).

Colchicine is an anti-inflammatory drug that may be used to treat persistent or recurring episodes of Dressler’s syndrome. Because of potential serious side effects, such as liver and kidney damage, this treatment isn’t an option for some people.

Corticosteroids can suppress inflammation related to Dressler’s syndrome. They’re used only when other treatments don’t work, because of the risk of serious side effects and because corticosteroids may interfere with the healing of damaged heart tissues after a heart attack or surgery.

Alternative Treatment

Stem cell treatment is a very natural, ethical and effective way of assisting the body to heal naturally and wholesomely. It embodies the very idea of “healing” rather than simply medicating a symptom. Adult stem cell therapy as an alternative treatment for Dressler’s Syndrome is extremely effective and very safe. Stem cell treatment involves the process of simply removing some of the own adult stem cells out of the side and placing them in a petrie dish and then adding enzymes to make them multiply rapidly. Then after a period of time, the stem cells are reinserted back into the body into the afflicted area or in the area of Dressler’s Syndrome into the exact position and location where the adult stem cells are needed.

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