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PERICARDIAL DISEASE: INFLAMMATION OF THE PERICARDIUM

The pericardium is the sac that rounds the heart and portions of great vessels. It anchors the heart in place in chest, protects it from nearby inflammation, and reduces the friction that caused by your heart’s beating.The pericardium can be a site of disease caused by inflammation, fluid accumulation (effusion), or stiffness (constriction). These forms may occur singly or in combination.INFLAMMATION OF THE PERICARDIUM. Inflammation of the pericardium is called pericarditis. It occ most often in men between ages and 50 years, sometimes after a respiratory infection.Causes of Inflammation of the Pericardium. Causes of inflammation the pericardium include infection, usually from a virus, or widespread inflammatory diseases such as lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus). Pericarditis may result from cancer or radiation to treat some types of cancer. However, in most cases the cause is unknown.Symptoms of Inflammation of the  Pericardium. Inflammation of the pericardium produces a fairly characteristic set of symptoms and findings on examination. The main symptom is chest pain, but usually it is very different from angina. Typically, it is a sharp, piercing pain over the center or left side of the chest. The pain can extend up to the left shoulder and worsen when you take a deep breath. It can be lessened somewhat by sitting up and leaning forward and worsened by lying down.Although this is the classic pattern, the pain can also be insidious or dull. You may have a low-grade fever, and in general, you just feel sick. Some people have pain with swallowing.How Serious Is Inflammation of the Pericardium?  Acute inflammatory pericarditis usually lasts 2 to 6 weeks and does not lead to any further problems. About one in five people has a recurrence within months or, rarely, within years. Each recurrence tends to be less severe, until the episodes finally stop.*216\252\8*

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