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Heart disease. Gross clinical specimen of a heart showing pericarditis. This is inflammation of the pericardium, the outer membrane that encloses the heart. Pericarditis causes chest pain and breathing difficulties, and may also cause the abdomen to become swollen. It can be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infection, injury to the chest, cancer, an autoimmune disorder or as a result of a heart attack. The treatment depends on the cause, although anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve the symptoms. The severity of the condition varies from mild to potentially fatal, but medical treatment usually effects a cure.
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