Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium of the heart: a sac of fibrous and serous tissue that envelops the heart.

Acute pericarditis can be caused by an infection, autoimmune disorders or be idiopathic. Patients might experience pain in their chest, a low-grade fever, fatigue and difficulty breathing. Leaning forward relieves some of the pain and can help with breathing. Recovery from pericarditis is lengthy and can take weeks or months. If it lasts longer than 6 months, it is considered chronic, which can present as effusive pericarditis (fluid buildup) or constrictive pericarditis (scarring of the pericardium leading to constriction of the heart).

A. Symptoms
• Leaning forward to relieve pain
• Low-grade fever
• Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath
• Chest pain

B. Electrocardiogram (ECG) (Example: Acute pericarditis)
• Widespread concave ST elevation and PR depression in I, II, aVL, aVF, and V2-V6
• Reciprocal ST depression and PR elevation in aVR

C. Heart with Inflamed Pericardium
• Anatomy (Zoom into the layers of the heart)

D. Endocardium
E. Myocardium of right atrium
F. Visceral pericardium (Serous pericardium)
G. Parietal pericardium (Serous pericardium)
H. Fibrous pericardium
I. Pericardial cavity with serous fluid


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