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Pericarditis, also known as pericardial disease, is swelling or inflammation the pericardium sac of fluid surrounding the heart.

The main symptoms of pericarditis are a sudden, sharp and stabbing chest pain, or a dull ache chest pain that is often worse when lying down.

What causes pericarditis?

Causes of pericarditis include:

For some people, no cause can be found.

Pericarditis can be acute (occurring suddenly) or chronic (ongoing).

What are the symptoms of pericarditis?

When present, they may include:

How is pericarditis diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose pericarditis based on:

  • Reported symptoms
  • Physical examination
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) results

Other tests may be performed to determine the cause of pericarditis.

How is pericarditis treated?

Treatment is based on the cause and may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) to decrease the pain and inflammation.
  • Steroids, used occasionally for severe attacks.
  • Antibiotics, if the pericarditis is due to infection.

Most patients recover in two to four weeks.

What is constrictive pericarditis?

Constrictive pericarditis is a rare complication of pericarditis.

The pericardium becomes very thick or scarred.

What are the symptoms of constrictive pericarditis?

The symptoms are the same as pericarditis, with the addition of:

How is constrictive pericarditis diagnosed?

The same tests used to diagnose pericarditis are used to diagnose constrictive pericarditis. Other diagnostic tests used for constrictive pericarditis include:

  • Echocardiography
  • Chest X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT scan

How is constrictive pericarditis treated?

Treatment may include:

  • Analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents to treat pain or inflammation.
  • Diuretics to treat heart failure symptoms.
  • Antiarrhythmics to treat any heart arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation
  • Pericardiotomy (the surgical removal of the stiff pericardium from the heart).
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 01, 2016

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