What Are the Signs and Symptoms Associated With Pericarditis?


Quick Answer

Signs and symptoms associated with pericarditis include sharp, stabbing chest pain; heart palpitations; shortness of breath when lying down or leaning back; fatigue; and weakness, reports Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms include abdominal swelling, leg swelling and cough.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of pericarditis vary between the two types of the condition: acute and chronic pericarditis, Mayo Clinic explains. Acute pericarditis causes sharp chest pain in the left side of the chest or behind the breastbone. Some people may experience dull chest pain. Reclining, breathing in deeply and coughing may worsen the problem. Symptoms of pericarditis are similar to those of lung and heart diseases.

In many cases, it is hard to determine the cause of pericarditis; however, inflammation and friction of pericardial sac may cause chest pain that is related to the condition, according to Mayo Clinic. The condition may also occur after a heart attack, a traumatic injury and taking certain medications. Systemic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis may cause the problem as well.

Diagnosis includes physical or medical examination, computer tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, and other tests, Mayo Clinic states. Taking nonprescription medications, such as ibuprofen; colchicine; and corticosteroids may help counter the problem. In certain cases, surgery may be necessary. Resting and avoiding doing strenuous activities may also be helpful. If left untreated, pericarditis may lead to constrictive pericarditis.

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