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: dlmtnfolks, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 29

I felt pressure with pain like a fist full of knuckles on my sternum and my back, trying to meet in the middle. I have a bad back so jumped in the shower to try to relax it and just in case I wanted to be fresh in case I needed to go the emergency room (ER). No relief, so off I went to the ER. Upon admission I had a positive troponin, so off to the catheter lab. I had no blockages, then I had echocardiogram; no aneurism, and no heart failure. I was sent home after 1.5 days on colchicine and ibuprofen. ] I have determined that this was an acute phase of a chronic problem. I have rheumatoid arthritis, my problem was diagnosed as pericarditis caused by an acute exacerbation of inflammation. Once it was determined that I was not in an acute life or death threat, it seems I was no longer interesting and am having to 'drive the bus' myself. My last visit to the cardiologist was, 'we don't know why and we don't know how to keep it from happening again'.

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Comment from: pugloverr, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: November 25

Two nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night. Then I noticed I have this pain on my left side under my breast bone. And my heart was racing and I had a hard time breathing. I thought it was nothing. I couldn't go back to sleep because when I lay flat I'd have a hard time breathing and felt the pain. But when I sat up or leaned forward I felt better but still had a hard time breathing. Then I went to the doctor yesterday and told the nurse and doctor how I felt. They did the typical heart rate check and the doctor listened to how my breathing was and automatically knew it was pericarditis. He prescribed me methylprednisolone 4 mg Dosepak that I have to take for 6 days and told me I should be fine after. I started the medication yesterday and it is starting to help. There is a little the pain but it doesn't hurt as much. I am still having a hard time breathing a little but it's only my second day on the medication. I have a while to go still hopefully after this I'll be better.

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