Pericarditis is a condition in which the sac-like covering around the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.

Pericarditis is usually a complication of viral infections, most commonly echovirus or coxsackie virus. Less frequently, it is caused by influenza or HIV infection. Infections with bacteria can lead to bacterial pericarditis (also called purulent pericarditis). Some fungal infections can also produce pericarditis.


  • Ankle, feet, and leg swelling (occasionally)
  • Anxiety
  • Breathing difficulty when lying down
  • Chest pain, caused by the inflamed pericardium rubbing against the heart
    • May radiate to the neck, shoulder, back, or abdomen
    • Often increases with deep breathing and lying flat, and may increase with coughing and swallowing
    • Pleuritis type: a sharp, stabbing pain
    • Usually relieved by sitting up and leaning forward
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Need to bend over or hold the chest while breathing

Call your health provider if you have symptoms of pericarditis.

Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you

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