Pericarditis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, a heart attack, and radiation treatment, an injury to the chest or esophagus, or certain medications that suppress the immune system. In some cases, the exact cause of pericarditis is hard to pinpoint.
Most people with pericarditis experience a sharp or stabbing pain in the center or left side of their chest. Sometimes the pain spreads to the neck or left shoulder and may be worse when you take a deep breath or change position.
Listening to your chest with a stethoscope and by reviewing the results from several tests, including:
Your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers to treat pericarditis. You may also need antibiotics if your pericarditis is caused by an infection. Your doctor may also need to perform a pericardiocentesis – a procedure that removes fluid from the pericardium. This reduces the pressure on your heart. In some rare cases, your doctor may recommend more involved surgery.