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Pericarditis occurs when the membrane that surrounds the heart and its major blood vessels becomes inflamed. In most cases, the cause of pericarditis is not known. It can be caused by a virus, a heart attack, chest injury, or another illness. Pericarditis causes sharp chest pain, which gets worse when you lie down or take a deep breath. The pain gets better if you lean forward or sit up.
Pericarditis often heals on its own and usually does not cause any further problems. Most people recover within a couple of weeks.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: December 16, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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