Pericarditis is swelling and inflammation of the pericardium, a sac surrounding your heart. It can be sudden or long term. The most common form is acute (sudden) pericarditis. Mild cases may get better on their own, while more severe cases may need medication and hospitalization.

Complications can include cardiac tamponade, which happens when fluid builds up in the pericardium. This condition is more serious and may require hospitalization and possibly surgery.

Long-term pericarditis can cause constrictive pericarditis, where the sac surrounding your heart gets tight with scar tissue and keeps your heart from working properly. It also may require surgery. Pericardial effusion -- excess fluid around the heart -- and constrictive pericarditis can happen together.

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Review Date: 4/27/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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