Pericarditis - Describe Your Experience

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What is pericarditis?

The heart muscle has a tight covering that surrounds it, a lining sac called the pericardium (peri=around +cardium=heart). This sac actually has two layers. The visceral pericardium is only one cell layer thick and fits tightly onto the heart muscle. The parietal pericardium is much tougher and thicker and has fibers that tether the heart to the rib cage and diaphragm. There is a potential space between the layers, meaning that in normal situations, it has a minimal amount of fluid. However, should inflammation occur, it can fill with fluid. Inflammation of the lining of the heart is called pericarditis (itis=inflammation).

Picture of the heart in the pericardial sac.
Picture of the heart in the pericardial sac.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Wibbler, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 19

I was diagnosed with pericarditis over Christmas. Three episodes of severe chest pains about two weeks apart put me in hospital overnight each time. I had a few weeks of no symptoms but now I have a constant back pain (between the shoulder blades) and a grumbling stomach. The severe pain has not returned. I do get woken up in the night but nothing that I cannot deal with. Episodes seems to last up to three hours then subside. Top tip - a hot water bottle against the chest works wonders for pain relief.

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Comment from: Dgriff63, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 12

I was initially diagnosed with pericarditis in September 2011. I thought my GERD was acting up. It became excruciating chest pain with high fever. I went to the hospital and a very knowledgeable doctor diagnosed me immediately. She told me to take naproxen 500 mg dose three times daily for pericarditis. She said if I did not improve she would admit me to the hospital immediately. Next day my temperature was 102.5 degrees. I was hospitalized for 5 days trying to rule out lupus. I have all the symptoms except the butterfly rash to my face. I have pericarditis right now. Very painful and frustrating. I just want to know what I have once and for all so proper treatment can happen. I just got a new great primary physician; follow up EKG, echocardiogram and more blood work. I will request to see a rheumatologist also! Wish me answers. Wishes to all. Take care.

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