The pericardium is the thin membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis occurs when the two layers of the pericardium swell up, resulting in chest pain and other symptoms. This is due to the inflammation of the membranes that rub against each other causing irritation and the sharp pain associated with pericarditis.
Acute pericarditis occurs suddenly and subsides after some time. Chronic pericarditis develops gradually and persists for a long period of time. Mild cases usually improve without the need for medical intervention. Severe cases require treatment that includes medication and sometimes, surgery. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can help minimize the risk of complications that may otherwise set in.