Pericarditis

What Is It?

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, the saclike membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis can be triggered by a number of 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 »