There are several reasons why chest pain should never be ignored, pericarditis is one of them.

Pericarditis is the swelling and inflammation of the pericardium- the thin, saclike tissue that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis can affect people of all ages, but men ages 16 to 65 are more likely to develop it.

The causes of pericarditis can include:

  • An infection
  • A heart attack
  • Systemic inflammatory disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trauma
  • Certain medications
  • Health disorders such as AIDS, kidney failure, cancer, or tuberculosis

Sharp or stabbing chest pain is the most common symptom of pericarditis; however, other signs and symptoms may also occur.  They include:

  • Coughing
  • A low-grade fever
  • Abdominal or leg swelling
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

According to the American Heart Association, “Pericarditis can be acute, meaning it happens suddenly and typically doesn’t last long. Or the condition may be “chronic,” meaning that it develops over time and may take longer to treat. Both types of pericarditis can disrupt your heart’s normal function. In rare cases, pericarditis can have very serious consequences, possibly leading to abnormal heart rhythm and death.”

Pericarditis is usually mild and may clear up with rest or simple treatments.  Treatment in more severe cases can include medications or surgery.

If you are experiencing chest pains, it is important that you see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce the risk of complications caused by pericarditis.

To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7100.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.