Patient Comments: Pericarditis - Symptoms and Signs

What symptoms and signs did you experience with your pericarditis?

Comment from: Db9, Published: March 08

I was sick with a virus diagnosed as bronchitis and after two weeks it went away. I started lifting weights again and felt fine. After playing pickup basketball two weeks later I felt very slow and out of shape. I went home and felt fine and then three hours later I felt like I had a weight on my sternum and couldn't breathe. After being diagnosed with pericarditis, I have has a ton of trouble falling asleep and stress has hit me very hard. It has been impossible for me to sleep the night before a test (awful during midterms week) and I have slowly regained all of my original symptoms after initially improving.

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Comment from: she104, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 18

One morning I woke up around two hours before I was supposed to get up for work with this nagging pain right in the middle of my chest. I took 3 Ibuprofen and went back to bed. Two hours later I woke up and was in extreme pain in the same spot. I tried coughing and began drinking water constantly. The pain did not go away. I then decided I should take an Aspirin as a precaution. After about an hour I decided to go to the urgent care center where they did an EKG and chest X-ray. They were both normal but the pain continued and would get worse when I would try to lie down or take deep breaths. I was told to go to the ER. Once there they took another EKG and it was normal. I then went to my primary doctor who ordered a CT scan of my upper chest including heart and the results showed something that could not be identified. A cardiologist was consulted and it was decided to do a TEE (transesophogeal echocardiagram) to rule out Aortic Dissection. Thank goodness I did not have that however the cardiologist indicated it was more than likely Pericarditis. I also have RA so it was indicated. The pain lasted for an entire day and resolved after taking narcotic pain meds in addition to steroids. However, for two weeks I was extremely exhausted and could not walk up and down stairs or walk for more than a half a block. I could not walk the grocery store or a mall or anywhere. I would run out of breath. By the 3rd week I was finally able to start walking again. I still take steroids and anti-inflammatories each day. It has been 4 weeks now. I hope this helps anyone to decide to go to the doctor, get checked out, be persistent and do the diagnostic tests. Have a great day.

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Comment from: Lauraf, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 18

I experienced pericarditis twice since having heart surgery; the most recent was with the worst symptoms. I still cannot lay flat without pressure and pain and yesterday I can say the pain was a ten on a scale of one to ten. Strangely enough my echocardiogram was normal even though my symptoms are so intense. I took Tylenol with Codeine when the pain was at its worst and it allowed me to feel like I could take a breath again. They're also treating me with Motrin to take down the inflammation. I think a big part of healing is getting diagnosed and of course going on the anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Comment from: dawngirl1975, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

With my pericarditis, I was very stressed, and I started to swell up. My eyes and face were swollen -- others at work noticed it first. In a week's time, I could not wear any of my clothes, and I could not lie on my back. I could not breathe. Soon I was unable to walk because my torso was hurting so bad. I was in the hospital a week before they figured it out. They finally did a CT scan and they saw my whole body, heart and lungs were outlined in fluid. They drained 20 pounds of fluid from me. My immune system attacked my heart and did some damage to one of the bottom sacs. I had to see a cardiologist for a while after that and do echocardiograms. She told me that if I don't get rid of the stress in my life that I would be six feet in the ground. I quit my job and started to take better care of myself. Now I am battling other stuff. Stress can kill you. Remember that.

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Comment from: Mick, 35-44 Male Published: July 25

I had a heart procedure done called an ablation to prevent atrial fibrillation. I then got pericarditis and two weeks later had 1.6 litres of fluid drained from the pericardium. I have had pericardiis in April and now have got it back but this time it's different and echo shows no fluid or enlargement of the heart. I feel a stinging feeling around the chest and very hard to breath like shortness of breath and asthma.

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Comment from: Steve, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 23

I started with flu-like symptoms in mid-July and it felt like a very bad virus. I then started experiencing chest pain when walking, which gradually worsened so that I couldn't walk up the hill to the train station where I live. Then it got increasingly worse and the dull pain in my chest spread down my left arm to my elbow and fingers. I was concerned that I could be having a heart attack. I am a 51 year old male in good health and reasonably fit as I cycle, don't smoke, and drink occasionally. I went to the local clinic near work and was seen for about five hours. They did two ECGs and a blood test for enzymes that were negative and showed me in good health. I was allowed to leave but the pain got worse and I became very fatigued, almost exhausted. I went to my own doctor who diagnosed viral pericarditis and gave me a course of anti inflammatories that I am now taking. My symptoms also included pain when I lay down but not pain when I breathed in. I appear to have a moderate case and am now recovering while off work. I suspect I will have to take more than a week off to recover though, possibly two or three weeks. We will see!

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Pericarditis - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with pericarditis.
Pericarditis - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment or procedures did you or a relative receive for pericarditis?
Pericarditis - Causes Question: Did an inflammatory disease or infection cause your pericarditis? What was the cause?

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