Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac that surrounds and protects the heart (pericardium).
Pericarditis can cause an abnormal buildup of fluid between the pericardium and the
heart (pericardial effusion).
Pericarditis often improves without causing any damage to the heart. But if pericarditis
causes excess fluid to build up quickly, pressure on the heart increases (cardiac
tamponade), and the heart may fail.
The most common cause of pericarditis is infection with a virus. Other causes include
bacterial infection, heart attack, or chest injury.
Symptoms of pericarditis include:
Severe, sudden pain in the center or the left side of the chest that may spread to
the neck, back, shoulders, or arms. Breathing deeply, moving, or lying down often
makes the pain worse. Sitting up and leaning forward may relieve the pain.
A general feeling of weakness or fatigue.
Treatment for pericarditis may include medicines to reduce inflammation and relieve
pain and antibiotics if the cause is a bacterial infection. If there is any fluid
buildup, it may be drained.
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Rakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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