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. Dressler's syndrome may also be called postpericardiotomy syndrome, post-myocardial infarction syndrome and post-cardiac injury syndrome.
With recent improvements in heart attack treatment, Dressler's syndrome is less common than it used to be. It is characterized by pleuritic chest pain, low-grade fever and pericarditis (autopsy shows localized fibrinous pericarditis), which may be accompanied by pericardial effusion. Dressler's syndrome can cause more-serious complications, including cardiac tamponade and constrictive pericarditis. The goals are to manage pain and reduce inflammation. Medications prescribed in order to reduce the pain include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory medication might be used, along with over-the-counter medications, to treat Dressler's syndrome. Corticosteroids are immune-system suppressants that reduce inflammation related to Dressler's syndrome. Complications of Dressler's syndrome can require more-invasive treatments, including draining excess fluids and removing the pericardium.