10 Pericarditis Symptoms

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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Pericarditis is a condition where the fibrous sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed. It can be infectious or non-infectious. Other potential causes are cancer, a sequel of heart attack, trauma to the chest area, and autoimmune disorders. The diagnosis of pericarditis can often be made based on the symptoms, electrocardiogram changes, and the presence of fluid around the heart.

The symptoms may improve after several days to weeks. However, in some cases, it may take months. Pericarditis is a condition that can lead to complications such as constrictive pericarditis, myocarditis, and cardiac tamponade. It is estimated to affect about 3 per 10,000 individuals annually. It is mostly seen among males between 20 to 50 years old. As many as 30% of patients have more than one episode of pericarditis.

1. Chest Pain

In pericarditis, the chest pain is often felt on the left side in the area where the heart is located. The pain can be described as a sharp pain, especially when breathing. It may radiate to the lowest portion of the scapula on the back. This pain worsens when lying down or breathing (inspiration) and is relieved with sitting up or bending forward. This pain is often sudden and can last for hours to days before the patient decides to seek medical attention. Due to its similarity to a heart attack, it can be misdiagnosed. However, the characteristic of the pain in a heart attack differs as the pain is a crushing and heavy pain that may radiate to the left arm or jaw. One crucial difference is that physical exertion increases the pain in a heart attack (but not in pericarditis). The pain in a heart attack does not change with different positions (unlike pericarditis).


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