Diagnosing pericarditis 

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and recent medical history, such as whether you've recently had a chest infection or been in an accident.

They will listen to your heart with a stethoscope, as pericarditis can change the sound of your heartbeat to a distinctive rasping or grating sound.

You may have blood tests to check for infections and how organs such as your liver and kidneys are functioning.

In some cases, a needle may be used to drain any fluid from around your heart, so it can be tested.

A diagnosis is usually confirmed by electrocardiogram (ECG). During an ECG, electrodes are placed on your skin to measure the electrical activity of your heart.

People with pericarditis usually experience a distinctive change in the electrical activity of the heart, which can be detected with an ECG.

Further testing

Further testing is usually only required if other tests prove negative or you have additional symptoms not normally associated with pericarditis, such as swelling of the arms and legs or extreme tiredness.

These tests may include:


Page last reviewed: 03/11/2014

Next review due: 03/11/2017