Pericarditis is a type of an inflammation of the pericardium which is the sac that surrounds and holds the heart in place and the condition may be acute which is also known as short term is or chronic which is also known as long term. A sharp and stabbing chest pain which may feel like heart attack pain is the most common symptom of pericarditis and it is very unclear just how common pericarditis is in the general population. It may be responsible for around five percent of all non-heart attack and chest pain cases that end up in accident as well as emergency departments.
Evidence of pericarditis has also been found in about one percent of autopsy studies which suggest that the inflammation might frequently be present in the people without causing noticeable symptoms. In many cases, it is unknown what causes a person to develop acute or chronic pericarditis and however, viral infections such as from coxsackie viruses, influenza and HIV are the most common and identifiable causes of pericarditis. Infections caused from bacteria, fungi, parasites and other organisms such as tuberculosis which can also cause pericarditis. Scientists believe that chronic pericarditis is most often caused by autoimmune disorders like lupus, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis and it may also may develop after a heart attack.