Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, a sac-like structure with two thin layers of tissue that surround the heart to hold it in place and help it work. A small amount of fluid keeps the layers separate so there’s less friction between them as the heart beats. A common symptom of pericarditis is chest pain, caused by the sac’s layers becoming inflamed and possibly rubbing against the heart. It may feel like pain from a heart attack. Pericarditis can be attributed to several factors, including viral, bacterial, fungal and other infections. Other possible causes of pericarditis include heart attack or heart surgery, other medical conditions, injuries and medications. Pericarditis can be acute, meaning it happens suddenly and typically doesn’t last long. Or the condition may be "chronic," meaning that it develops over time and may take longer to treat. Both types of pericarditis can disrupt your heart’s normal function. In rare cases, pericarditis can have very serious consequences, possibly leading to abnormal heart rhythm and death.