Chest Pain? You Could Have Pericarditis

Pericarditis is a heart condition that creates sudden but short term pain on the left side of the chest. Pericarditis occurs when the membrane that envelopes the heart (the pericardium), becomes swollen and irritated. The sharp chest pain that is symptomatic of pericarditis occurs when the layers of the pericardium push against each other.

Most patients with pericarditis experience improvement in their symptoms over time and may only require medication. For those with more severe symptoms, surgery may be necessary. With early treatment and diagnosis, you can reduce the risk of developing long term side effects from pericarditis.

The symptoms

If you have pericarditis, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp piercing pain on the left or center area of the chest that can become more intense when breathing in.
  • Heart palpitations
  • Low grade fever
  • Shortness of breath when laying down or reclined
  • Feeling fatigued, sick, or a sense of weakness
  • Leg or abdominal swelling

Why do I have Pericarditis?

The pericardial sac is a two layered membrane that surrounds the heart. It contains a small amount of fluid that works as lubrication. When one has pericarditis, this membrane gets inflamed and the friction from the sac results in sharp chest pain. It is difficult to determine the true cause of pericarditis. In many cases, healthcare providers can’t ascertain the cause or believe it is due to a viral infection.

Pericarditis can also be a side effect of experiencing a heart attack. This is because the heart muscle has been damaged and becomes irritated. Other reasons that patients develop pericarditis are: trauma, health disorders, medications, or systematic inflammatory disorders.

What treatment is available?

How your pericarditis is treated depends on how it developed and how severe your condition is. Pain relief medication are used to help reduce pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids or surgery may also be necessary.

Arrange your consultation

If you have experienced any of the symptoms connected to pericarditis, contact Cardiovascular Associates of Mesa today. Schedule your appointment by calling us at (480) 641-5400. Let us help you live without pain!