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Pericarditis is swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart. Inflammation of the lining around the heart that causes chest pain and accumulation of fluid around the heart, there are many causes of pericarditis, including infections, injury, radiation treatment, and chronic diseases.
The sharp chest pain associated with pericarditis occurs when the irritated layers of the pericardium rub against each other.