Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, the thin layers of tissue that surround the heart. It is often the result of an infection and can cause chest pain, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing.

Risk Factors

Certain factors put you at higher risk of developing pericarditis including:

  • Age
  • Sex, men are twice as likely as women to develop pericarditis
  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Medical history


Symptoms of pericarditis include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Detection and Diagnosis

Your doctor may use imaging tests including computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose pericarditis. The results of these tests alongside your medical history and a physical examination may lead to a diagnosis of pericarditis. Unfortunately, the exact cause of pericarditis can often remain unknown.


Treatment depends on the cause but can include medication to reduce pain and inflammation and antibiotics if you have an infection. Mild cases may go away on their own.