Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, the saclike membrane around the heart. Pericarditis can be triggered by many, very different medical conditions. Often the exact cause cannot be identified. Doctors call this idiopathic pericarditis. In many people with pericarditis, the initial trigger is a viral infection. However, the inflammation may not be a direct result of the infection. Instead, the virus may stimulate the immune system to attack and inflame the pericardium.  
To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »