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What is pericarditis?

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Pericarditis is the irritation and swelling of the sac-like membrane, known as the pericardium, that surrounds the heart, according to Mayo Clinic. When the irritated layers rub against one another, it results in chest pain that ranges from sharp and stabbing to dull and achy.

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The pain from pericarditis often travels into the left shoulder and neck and may worsen when lying down, inhaling deeply or coughing, reports Mayo Clinic. Heart palpitations, shortness of breath, low-grade fever, and leg or abdominal swelling often accompany the pain. Pericarditis also induces an overall feeling of sickness, fatigue and weakness. Mild cases of pericarditis generally resolve on their own, but more severe cases may require medication or surgery.

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