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Pericarditis Symptoms

Sharp stabbing chest pain is a common symptom of pericarditis. It often comes on quickly in the middle or left side of the chest, and it may intensify with coughing, deep breathing or lying down. Sitting up and leaning forward tends to ease the pain. Some people describe the pain as more of a pressure or dull ache. Other symptoms may include: shortness of breath, coughing, fever, weakness, fatigue, palpitations (feeling that your heart skips a beat or flutters) and swelling of the feet or belly. Pericarditis may start suddenly and last just a week or two (acute) or it may develop slowly and linger for months or years (chronic). If it lasts for years, the tissue can thicken, scar, and restrict heart movements; this is called constrictive pericarditis. Fluid build-up in the pericardium can also put pressure on the heart, prevent proper filling, and cause a sudden drop in blood pressure; this serious complication is called cardiac tamponade.