Pericarditis is swelling of the pericardium, which is the fluid-filled sac surrounding your heart.

The main symptom of pericarditis is Chest pain . This can be a sudden, sharp and stabbing pain behind your breastbone or more of a dull ache. The painisoftenworse when lying down orbreathing in, and better when sitting up.

Pericarditis is not usually a serious condition andmay be treated on an outpatient basis, so you don't have to be admitted to hospital.

However,an infection is usually thought to be responsible.

Other things that may cause pericarditis include chest injury, some cancers and some treatments, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy .

Problems with the body's immune system may alsoplay a role in recurring and chronic pericarditis.

Some cases respond well to medication, while others may require surgery.

This is an excess build-up of fluid inside the pericardium. The extra fluid places too much pressure on the heart, so it is unable to beat properly.

Cardiac tamponade can cause symptoms such as:

  • light-headedness
  • blurred vision
  • palpitations
  • nausea

Cardiac tamponade also often occurs alongside inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). This causes painthat feels like pressure on the chest, similar to a heart attack.

Cardiac tamponade is life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. If you have a history of pericarditis and develop the symptoms listed above, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Around5% of all admissions to accident and emergency (A&E) departments for severe chest pain are diagnosed as pericarditis.

Pericarditis tends to be more common in men than women. It can affect people of all ages, but mostly occurs in young adults.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 22 Aug 2016