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Angina Guide

Christine Jeffries

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Cardiac Causes of Chest Pain

 
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Pericarditis

The heart is surrounded by a two layer sac called the pericardium. One layer fits tightly around the heart while the second layer loosely surrounds the inner layer. Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium. The cause can be trauma, viral or bacterial infection, or the side effect of certain medications, autoimmune diseases, and metabolic disorders. Chest pain is the most common symptom. Onset can be sudden or slow. It is usually stabbing or sharp and can radiate to the back, the neck, or the arms. The pain worsens with deep breaths, coughing and lying down. Sitting up and leaning forward can relieve the pain. Additional symptoms include difficulty breathing while lying down, dry cough, anxiety, fatigue and fever. The prognosis for recovery is good if treated promptly. Untreated pericarditis leads to life-threatening complications such as cardiac tamponade, arrhythmias and heart failure.

Photo: Getty Images

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