Non-traumatic chest pain: pericarditis


Pericarditis is an inflammation of the two layers of pericardium, the thin, sac-like membrane that surrounds the heart. Its causes are thought to be viral, fungal or bacterial. Pericarditis may also present as a result of a myocardial infarction. Its signs and symptoms include chest pain, which may radiate to the arm and jaw and pericardial friction rub (a scratching or creaking sound produced by the layers of the pericardium rubbing over each other) on auscultation of heart sounds. The diagnosis of straightforward pericarditis may be within the scope of practice of the emergency care practitioner. It should be possible for an emergency care practitioner to reach a working diagnosis and to initiate a treatment regimen, which would predominantly consist of providing analgesia to make the patient more comfortable.

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