What is pericarditis?
Pericarditis usually doesn't cause serious problems. Most people get better in 7 to 10 days. When there are problems, they may include:
What causes pericarditis?
Many things can cause pericarditis, including:
In many cases, the cause is not known.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is a sharp pain in the center or left side of your chest. The pain may spread to the shoulder blade. For some people, this pain is dull instead of sharp. It may be worse when you lie down or take a deep breath.
Pericarditis usually isn't dangerous. But your chest pain could be caused by something more serious, like a heart attack. Getting diagnosed and treated early can help keep pericarditis from leading to other problems. That's why you should call a doctor right away if you have any kind of sudden chest pain.
How is pericarditis diagnosed?
Your doctor will listen to your heart during a physical exam. He or she will also ask questions about your medical history, such as whether you've had a recent illness, radiation treatment for cancer, or tuberculosis.
If the chest X-ray shows any fluid buildup, or if you have new or worse symptoms, such as shortness of breath, your doctor may want you to have a test called an echocardiogram.
How is it treated?
If there are no other problems, pericarditis usually goes away on its own in a few weeks. During this time:
Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments with your doctor. If you have complications or the illness gets worse, you may need further treatment. This could include medicines or a procedure to relieve the fluid and pressure around your heart (pericardiocentesis).
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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