Dressler's syndrome

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is Dressler’s syndrome?

Dressler’s syndrome is a type of pericarditis — inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (pericardium). Dressler’s syndrome is believed to be an immune system response after damage to heart tissue or to the pericardium, from events such as a heart attack, surgery or traumatic injury. Symptoms include chest pain, which may be similar to chest pain experienced during a heart attack.

Dressler’s syndrome may also be called postpericardiotomy syndrome, post-myocardial infarction syndrome and post-cardiac injury syndrome.

How common is Dressler’s syndrome?

With recent improvements in heart attack treatment, Dressler’s syndrome is less common than it used to be. It is more common in individuals in the 20-50 year age group. Both males and females may be affected, though the condition is more common in males. No racial, ethnic, or geographical preferences are seen. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Dressler’s syndrome?

The common symptoms of Dressler’s syndrome are:

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Dressler’s syndrome?

The cause of Dressler Syndrome is generally unknown. It is believed to be an autoimmune reaction of the body following an injury to the heart, such as due to a heart attack, surgery, or trauma to the chest.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Dressler’s syndrome?

There are many risk factors for Dressler’s syndrome, such as:

  • Post heart attack or myocardial infarction
  • Trauma to the chest due to other reasons such as a surgery or an accident
  • A previous diagnosis of acute pericarditis may increase the risk

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Dressler’s syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination, including listening to your heart with a stethoscope. Certain characteristic sounds can indicate that your pericardium is inflamed or that fluid has accumulated around your heart.

Your doctor might then recommend tests, such as:

  • Sound waves produce an image of your heart, helping your doctor to see if fluid is collecting around it.
  • Electrical impulses in your heart are recorded through wires attached to your skin. Certain changes in the electrical impulses can indicate pressure on your heart. But electrocardiogram readings may be abnormal after heart surgery, so your doctor likely won’t rely on this one test for a diagnosis of Dressler’s syndrome.
  • Chest X-ray. An X-ray can help detect fluid building up around the heart or lungs and can help exclude other causes of your symptoms, such as pneumonia.
  • Blood tests. The results of certain tests can indicate inflammatory activity that’s consistent with Dressler’s syndrome.

How is Dressler’s syndrome treated?

The treatment of Dressler Syndrome may include the following measures:

  • Administration of high-dose aspirin usually forms the first line of treatment
  • Individuals, who do not respond to high-dose aspirin therapy, may be given steroids. Typically, steroids should be avoided to the extent possible
  • The use of medications to manage pain such as:
    • Analgesics (to relieve pain)
    • Anti-inflammatory medication (to decrease inflammation)
  • Plenty of rest (bed rest) will be recommended as well
  • If there is a severe buildup of fluid, a small cut is made in the pericardium, to allow drainage of the fluid. This procedure is called pericardiocentesis
  • Additionally, diuretics to help decrease excess fluid accumulation in the body, may be administered
  • The treatment for recurrent pericarditis (arising from acute pericarditis) is using colchicine medication

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Dressler’s syndrome?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 9, 2017 | Last Modified: September 11, 2019

You might also like