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Symptoms and Signs of Pericarditis

Doctor's Notes on Pericarditis

Pericarditis is the condition where the thin membrane that lines the outside of the heart becomes inflamed. It can be double layered and normally holds less than 50 mL of fluid. Signs and symptoms of pericarditis is mainly chest pain described as sharp and pleuritic (increases when the person takes a deep breath or increases when the patient lies flat or decreases when the patient leans forward). This paint can radiate to the back or left shoulder. Associated symptoms are fever, weakness, and in some patients, swelling of the feet, ankles and legs.

The most common cause of pericarditis is considered idiopathic, meaning the reason or cause cannot be determined. However, there are different known less frequent causes such as infections, especially viral types, bacterial infections (like TB), some parasites and fungi. Other associated causes may be inflammatory diseases, kidney disorders, heart attacks, hyperthyroidism, cancers, radiation therapy, trauma, and as a side effect of some medications like procainamide, phenytoin and others.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.