What are the symptoms of pericarditis?

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Pericarditis is a condition in which the sac-like tissue that surrounds the heart (called the pericardium) becomes inflamed, swollen or irritated. The most common symptom of pericarditis is sharp, stabbing chest pain caused by friction from the inflamed sac around the heart. The chest pain is usually relieved by sitting up or leaning forward. The pain can sometimes feel worse with coughing or taking a deep breath. Pericarditis can also cause shortness of breath while lying down, low-grade fever, dry cough, abdominal or leg swelling, and an overall sense of weakness or fatigue.
Piedmont Heart Institute
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Sharp, stabbing chest pain is a common symptom of acute pericarditis. The pain usually comes on quickly. It often is felt in the middle or the left side of the chest.
The pain tends to ease when you sit up and lean forward. Lying down and deep breathing worsens it. For some people, the pain feels like a dull ache or pressure in their chests.
The chest pain may feel like pain from a heart attack. If you have chest pain, you should call 9–1–1 right away, as you may be having a heart attack.
Fever is another common symptom of acute pericarditis. Other symptoms are weakness, trouble breathing, and coughing.
Chronic pericarditis often causes tiredness, coughing, and shortness of breath. Chest pain is often absent in this type of pericarditis. Severe cases of chronic pericarditis can lead to swelling in the stomach and legs and low blood pressure (hypotension).
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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