Pericardium - Definition

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The pericardium is a very thin membrane, which forms a sort of sac surrounding the heart. It is made up of two layers that can slide over each other, with the visceral pericardium touching the heart and the parietal pericardiumlining the chest cavity. The pericardium notably protects the heart against numerous dangers, such as violent trauma, viruses, or bacteria. Nevertheless, in some cases the pericardium can become infected, which is called acute pericarditis, and can lead to, when advanced, a more severe form called tamponade, where the space between the two layers fills up with fluid, obstructing heart muscle contraction. In addition, chronic constrictive pericarditis is also possible, often leading to impairment of the heart muscle.