Heart sac inflammation

Inflammation of the heart sac (pericarditis) can be caused by viruses and bacteria or as a complication of another disease.

Overview

Inflammation of the heart sac (pericarditis) can be caused by viruses and bacteria or as a complication of another disease. It often occurs at the same time as a cold, flu or fever. The main symptoms are a shooting pain behind the sternum when you breathe in or out and a feeling of weakness. The condition should be checked by a doctor, and the body should be rested.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Shooting pain in the chest, behind the sternum
    • Linked to breathing (different from the pain of a heart attack!)
    • Typically worsens when you draw a deep breath, cough and lie down
    • Improves if the upper body is bent forward
  • Often occurs at the same time as a cold, flu or fever
  • Reduced physical performance, weakness
  • Usually heals within 1 to 2 weeks (it often goes unnoticed). After-effects are rare

Other symptoms

Complication

  • Pericardial tamponade: collection of fluid in the heart sac and impaired heart function
    • Acute emergency

Causes and treatment

Causes

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Listening to the heart (stethoscope)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Blood test (signs of inflammation and heart enzymes)
  • Heart ultrasound
  • X-ray of chest cavity
Possible therapies
  • Treatment of symptoms (e.g. painkillers, anti-inflammatories)
  • Possibly antibiotics or cortisone
  • Cannulation to relieve pressure on the heart (only for pericardial tamponade)
  • Treatment of the underlying disease

What can I do myself?

  • Rest your body, bed rest

When to see a doctor?

  • Pain behind the sternum
  • Shortness of breath, racing heart and falling blood pressure
  • Congested neck veins
  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen

Synonyms

heart sac inflammation, pericarditis, perimyocarditis, inflammation of the heart sac

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

CSS – your health partner

Being healthy, getting well or living with illness: as your health partner, CSS is by your side on your journey through life.

Well looked