Your heart beats in a fluid-filled sac called the pericardium that keeps it protected while it pumps blood to your body. Inflammation, irritation or swelling of this sac is called pericarditis. It is often caused by a viral infection, but can also be caused due to other things such as a heart attack, chest injury or certain diseases. Although anyone can have this condition, it is most common in men between 20 and 50 years old.
If you have pericarditis, it’s fairly common to develop symptoms suddenly. The main symptom is pain in the center or left side of your chest. The discomfort is from your heart rubbing against the pericardium. You may feel this pain spread to your back, neck or shoulder. You may also find that it’s hard to breathe when you lie down or notice other symptoms like a dry cough or generally feeling weak and tired. Seeking medical care right away is very important if you begin having chest pain.
If you are diagnosed with pericarditis, you will likely be treated with medications for pain and inflammation. Use this condition center to learn more about pericarditis. You can keep up with the latest research, find questions to ask your doctor, and get tips to help you feel your best.