In This Section      

Conditions We Treat: Pericarditis

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, the double-layered membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis caused by a viral infection often resolves itself, but if it is caused by a bacterial infection it can lead to fluid buildup between the layers. This is called pericardial effusion and may interfere with the heart's ability to function.

Pericarditis: What You Need to Know

Father and son on Laptop
  • Acute pericarditis is sudden and short-term, often caused by an infection or by a number of underlying conditions, including some cardiac and autoimmune disorders.
  • Chronic pericarditis is the persistent recurrence of acute pericarditis, and can lead to scarring of the pericardium, difficulty breathing, fatigue and fluid retention.
  • The goal of treatment is to relieve the inflammation, sometimes by treating the underlying condition. In the case of excess fluid, your doctor may discuss pericardiocentesis — inserting a needle between the two layers to draw out the fluid.

Patient Resources

Request an Appointment


Why choose Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute for treatment of pericarditis?

Doctor with patient

Our Specialty Centers

Our Interventional Cardiology Service helps patients manage pericardial diseases including pericarditis.

Learn more about the Interventional Cardiology Service.