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Pericardial disease is a common disorder seen in varying clinical settings and may be the first manifestation of an underlying systemic disease. It may be due to multiple causes. Epidemiologic studies are lacking, and the exact incidence and prevalence are unknown. New diagnostic techniques have improved diagnosis, allowing early diagnosis and management. There are few randomized data to guide physicians in the management of pericardial diseases. Part I of our review focuses on the current state of knowledge and management of the more common pericardial diseases: acute pericarditis, pericardial effusion, cardiac tamponade, chronic pericarditis and relapsing pericarditis.