Pericardial Diseases |Heart Failure | MedStar Health

Comprehensive care for pericardial disease patients

Illustration showing inflammation of the pericardium.Our program is led by cardiologists and cardiac surgeons with a special interest in treatment of the full scope of pericardial diseases which includes pericarditis, pericardial effusion, cardiac tamponade, Dressler’s syndrome, constrictive pericarditis, and other related conditions.

The pericardium is the flexible two-layered sac that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis, or inflammation of the pericardium, is the most common type of pericardial disease. It is diagnosed in about 0.1 percent of hospitalized patients and in five percent of patients admitted to emergency departments with noncardiac chest pain.

The pericardial disease program offers care to a clinically complex and diverse patient population. Our program is part of the cardiology clinic at MedStar Washington Hospital Center located in Washington, D.C.

For more information about the MedStar Health Pericardial Diseases program, please call

Program Director S. Wagas Haider, MD, and Gabby Weisman, MD, view image of the heart of a patient with pericardial disease.
Program Director S. Wagas Haider, MD, and Gabby Weisman, MD, view image of the heart of a patient with pericardial disease.


Diagnostic tests and imaging procedures are an integral component of the initial diagnosis of pericardial disease and ongoing management of these medical conditions. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.

Blood tests

Chest X-rays

Chest X-rays are a common exam and often one of the first procedures you will have if the doctor suspects you have heart or lung disease. The test uses a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall. 

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Left and right cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is another way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.


Advanced heart failure

Advanced heart failure is a form of heart failure that has progressed to the most serious stage.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a rare genetic abnormality of the heart muscle.

Heart failure

Heart failure occurs when your heart doesn’t fill with enough blood or doesn’t pump enough blood throughout your body.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare form of heart failure that can develop during or up to six months after pregnancy.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.