Pericarditis causes chest pain and a high temperature. It's not usually serious, but it can cause serious health problems. Get medical advice if you have chest pain.
What happens at your appointment
A GP will listen to your heart. Pericarditis can change the sound it makes.
To confirm pericarditis, the GP may:
- do some blood tests
- refer you for a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram in hospital
ECGs are safe and painless, and some GPs can do them out at the surgery.
Treatment for pericarditis will depend on what's causing it. You may be given anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, and you should feel better within 1 to 2 weeks.
Sitting up or leaning forward can also help ease the pain.
You may need other treatment. For example, a GP may prescribe these medicines:
- colchicine – if anti-inflammatory painkillers do not work or you're not able to take them
- steroids – if colchicine does not work
- antibiotics – if pericarditis is caused by a bacterial infection
Your heart has a protective fluid-filled sac around it called the pericardium.
In pericarditis, the pericardium gets inflamed, and blood or fluid can leak into it.
It's difficult to confirm the exact cause of pericarditis, but it's usually a viral infection.