View Full Version : Recurrent Pericarditis

07-27-2007, 10:43 AM

I don't know if any of you have heard of, or know what Pericarditis is? Well in short it is the inflamation of the pericardium (the lining outside the heart), and causes sevre chest pains amoungst other things.

Well I first had it in November last year (06) in Paris, and recovered within a few weeks. I had it again much more seriously in January '07, and since then have never gotten 100% better, but have been going through stages. I seem to get well, come of my steroids (prednisilone, SP?) then 2 weeks later it will start to come back.

I've been going through this viscious cycle for so long it feels like i'll never get out of it, and the nausia/ sore stomach is just as bad since I can't just jump on steroids when that comes on, but instead have to wait weeks for it to die off and my eating to return closer to normal.

Since then they have diagnosed me with Lupus as the underlaying problem causing pericarditis (although they are still quesiton marking that), and I'm taking 20mg of methatrexate as an immune suppresive drug.

I'm very open to alternative medication and intend to go to a traditional chinese herbalist soon since from what i've heard they can help a lot with not just lupus but nausia and stomach problems.

07-27-2007, 12:36 PM
Pericarditis is a common disease that can be caused by Lupus (Lupus being the underlying disease). It is commonly treated with steroids (as you are being treated).
While pericarditis usually resolves within a few days or a few weeks, three complications can occur. These are tamponade, chronic pericarditis, or constrictive pericarditis. Tamponade occurs when fluid accumulating in the pericardial sac (a condition called pericardial effusion) prevents the heart from filling completely. When this happens, the blood pressure drops and the lungs become congested, and you will experience weakness, dizziness and lightheadedness, and extreme shortness of breath. If treatment is not given, death can occur. The diagnosis of tamponade is made with an echocardiogram.

Chronic pericarditis occurs when the pericardial inflammation does not resolve within a few weeks. It can be associated with all the symptoms of acute pericarditis, and in addition is often accompanied by particularly large pericardial effusions. Constrictive pericarditis occurs when a chronically inflamed pericardial sac sticks to the heart muscle, squeezing it constricting it. The symptoms are the same as with tamponade, but usually have a much more gradual onset. The diagnosis usually requires a careful cardiac catheterization. A CT or MRI scan can also help to diagnose chronic or constrictive pericarditis, by showing the thickening of the pericardial lining associated with these conditions.
Acute pericarditis is treated by a) identifying the underlying cause, b) treating the underlying cause, c) giving anti-inflammatory drugs (to reduce inflammation and help prevent chronic problems), and d) giving analgesics to control the pain. Most cases of acute pericarditis resolve within a few weeks, and leave no permanent cardiac problems. Tamponade is treated by draining the fluid from the pericardial sac, usually via a tiny catheter. Removing the fluid relieves the pressure on the heart, and restores normal cardiac function almost immediately.

Chronic pericarditis is treated by identifying and treating the underlying cause (such as Lupus). If recurrent pericardial effusions become a problem, surgery can be done to create a permanent opening that allows the fluid to drain from the pericardial sac, thus preventing tamponade.
Constrictive pericarditis is a very difficult therapeutic problem. Symptoms can be treated with bed rest, diuretics, and digitalis, but definitive treatment requires surgery to strip the thickened pericardial lining from the heart. This surgery is usually quite difficult.

Be very careful with any herbal medications as they can sometimes be dangerous for us and they may have serious contraindications with reference to some of our prescriptive medicines. I would suggest that you consult with your rheumatologist before you begin taking any herbal medications.

I wish you the very best,