This factsheet is for people who have pericarditis, or who would like information about it.
Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium – the sac that surrounds and protects the heart.
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Publication date: April 2010
Your pericardium is a double-layered sac that surrounds your heart. Pericarditis is inflammation of your pericardium. It’s a common disorder that has many different causes.
Pericarditis can be recurrent; this means that your symptoms may go away and come back again over several years.
Causes of pericarditis
Pericarditis happens when there is blood, fluid or damaged tissue in between the two layers of your pericardium. Causes of pericarditis include:
- an infection, such as tuberculosis, but more commonly a viral infection
- an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- a heart attack (this is known as Dressler’s syndrome)
- heart surgery
- certain types of cancer
- waste products building up in your blood due to kidney disease or kidney failure (this is called uraemia)
- an injury to your chest
- radiotherapy to your chest area
- an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)