Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, the thin sac (membrane)
that surrounds the heart. There is a small amount of fluid between the
inner and outer layers of the pericardium. When the pericardium becomes
inflamed, the amount of fluid between its two layers increases, causing
a pericardial effusion. If the amount of fluid increases quickly, the
effusion caused can impair the ability of the heart to function
properly. This condition is called pericardial tamponade.
What are the symptoms of pericarditis?
The following are the most common indicators of pericarditis. However,
individuals may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
chest pain that:
can especially be felt behind the breastbone,
sometimes felt beneath the clavicle
(collarbone), neck, and left shoulder.
is a sharp, piercing pain over the center or
left side of the chest that increases if the
person takes a deep breath.
a low-grade fever
pain when swallowing
arrhythmias (irregular heart beats)
The symptoms of pericarditis may resemble other conditions or medical
problems. Consult a physician for diagnosis.
What causes pericarditis?
Usually, the cause of pericarditis is unknown, but may include any/all
of the following:
infection (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic)
chest trauma or injury
cancer spreading from a nearby tumor in the lung, breast, or the
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