Pericarditis

Friday, February 07, 2014

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds the heart. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this condition in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Pericarditis is a swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the thin sac-like membrane that surrounds your heart. Pericarditis often causes chest pain and sometimes other symptoms. Pericarditis is usually sudden and short-lived.

The cause of pericarditis is often hard to determine. When symptoms develop more gradually or persist, the pericarditis is considered chronic. The sharp chest pain associated with pericarditis occurs when the inflamed or irritated two layers of the pericardium rub against each other.

If you have acute pericarditis, the most common symptom is sharp, stabbing chest pain behind the breastbone or in the left side of your chest. However, some people with acute pericarditis describe their chest pain as dull, achy or pressure-like instead, and of varying intensity.

Many of the symptoms of pericarditis are similar to those of other heart and lung conditions. Mild cases may improve on their own. Treatment for more-severe cases may include medications and, rarely, surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment may help to reduce the risk of long-term complications.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.