Pericarditis is the inflammation of the pericardium. If they become inflamed, it can cause pressure on the heart and make it difficult for it to function properly. When the heart cannot beat sufficiently, it cannot provide the body with the oxygen and blood it needs to operate. It can be caused by an unknown reason, or due to a viral infection or irritation of the pericardium because of inflammation. Pericarditis can come on suddenly and resolve itself. Other cases can come on gradually and might need medication for treatment. There are patients who experience chronic pericarditis, which means it is long-lasting. It is sometimes difficult to discern the pain associated with this condition from having a heart attack. Therefore, it is important to seek medical treatment if any of the symptoms, like heart palpitations, sharp pain in the chest, leg swelling, cough, and shortness of breath, appear.
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