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Pericarditis is inflammation of the membrane, or sac surrounds the heart. This structure, called the pericardium, can become irritated and swollen due to an infection or another cause. When this happens, the sac becomes painful and can interfere with your heart’s function.
The heart doctors at Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento are here to offer advanced, quality care for your pericarditis in the Sacramento region. Find a Heart Doctor near you for a diagnosis and treatment provided by one of our expert cardiology specialists.
In many cases, the cause of pericarditis is not known. Sometimes, infection with a virus, bacteria, or fungus causes the condition. Pericarditis may be chronic (it persists over time and takes longer to treat) or acute (it flares up but goes away after a short treatment).
Other possible causes for pericarditis include heart attack, chest trauma, and autoimmune diseases like lupus or HIV. Certain medications also might cause the condition.
Your doctor at Dignity Health will order a series of heart and blood tests to diagnose pericarditis and help determine the cause.
The signs and symptoms of pericarditis can be similar to a heart attack. If you experience chest pain, you should immediately call 911 for medical attention. You should never try to self-diagnose chest pain.
Pain is the most common symptom of pericarditis. Many people describe pericarditis as a stabbing pain over the front of the chest.
Sometimes the pain occurs in the upper back or shoulder area. The pain of pericarditis often gets better when you sit up and lean forward. Pericarditis may also cause coughing, fatigue, or heart palpitations.
At Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento, our treatment and prevention strategies for pericarditis focus on relieving symptoms, addressing any underlying causes, and reducing your risk of complications or recurrence.
Your cardiologist will create a pericarditis treatment plan based on the severity and suspected cause of the condition. A mild case of pericarditis may not need any treatment beyond rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. More serious or chronic cases may require prescription medications or even surgery.
Pericarditis can occur in anyone, regardless of age, though it seems to affect men between the ages of 20 and 50 more often. Untreated, pericarditis can lead to chronic pericarditis and life-threatening complications.
Rely on our cardiology professionals to deliver personal care, from your initial visit to determining a diagnosis and treatment.