When To See Your Doctor If You Have Percarditis

If you have any of the symptoms of acute pericarditis described in these pages you should schedule a visit with your doctor immediately.


Pericarditis can become a life-threatening condition because pericardial effusion can develop and possibly lead to a severe compression of the heart that impairs its ability to function – this is called a cardiac tamponade.

  •  Symptoms of cardiac tamponade include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting, light-headedness, palpitations or rapid breathing. These symptoms require emergency treatment; call 911 if you experience any of these symptoms.
  • If you develop symptoms of constrictive pericarditis, including shortness of breath, swelling of the legs and feet, water retention, heart palpitations, or severe swelling of the abdomen, you should make an appointment with your cardiologist for an evaluation.


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