Pericarditis and Myopericarditis
Sometimes chest pain is the result of inflammation.
Pericarditis is swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the two thin layers of membrane that surround your heart and hold it in place. A small amount of fluid separates the layers to prevent friction between them. But when irritated or inflamed (most frequently by a viral infection), the layers of the pericardium rub against each other causing sharp chest pain. Pericarditis can also be attributed to bacterial and fungal infections, heart attack, heart surgery, injuries and certain medications.
Most cases of pericarditis are mild and usually improve with medication and observation, but require careful supervision by your doctor.
Pericarditis mostly affects people aged 20 to 50 years, and is more frequently diagnosed in men. Acute pericarditis is sometimes accompanied by myocarditis, an inflammation of your heart muscle. This combination of pericarditis and myocarditis is called myopericarditis. To reduce pain and inflammation, your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or antibiotics if infection is the cause) while also treating the underlying cause if it is known. Symptoms of acute pericarditis can last from a few days to three weeks. Chronic pericarditis may last several months.
Rarely, myocarditis can progress to severe heart muscle dysfunction; and it is important that you contact your doctor early for assessment.
Symptoms may include:
• Sharp, piercing chest pain, usually at center or left side of the chest
• Shortness of breath, especially when reclining
• Heart palpitations (racing or fluttering sensation)
• Low-grade fever
• Weakness, fatigue or feeling sick
• Swelling in abdomen or legs