Recurrent Pericarditis

by Sam Malone

Your heart is delicate, complex and undeniably the most vital organ in your body. It needs protection in order to function effectively. One of the main things that shields your heart from infections, over-expanding, and keeps it safe in the chest cavity, is the pericardium. This I s made up of two layers that form a sac which is filled with fluid. But while your heart is being protected by the pericardium, it is possible that the pericardium itself can get inflamed. The inflammation of this delicate sac and its tissues is known as pericarditis.

It is quite common for an unknown cause to be the reason for pericarditis, which is known as idiopathic pericarditis. In some cases, this condition is symptomatic of some other underlying disorder, disease or trauma, such as:

  • Infections
  • Side effects of drugs
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart surgery
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Cancer
  • Post radiation therapy
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lupus
  • Scleroderma
  • Kidney failure
  • Trauma or injury to the chest
Treatment of pericarditis usually depends on the severity and the cause of the underlying condition. But it is prone to being recurrent.  Recurrence of acute pericarditis can pose to be a serious complication. This condition is characterized by the return of chest pain possibly after recovering from acute pericarditis. In most cases, patients may only experience a single recurrence while for others these pains reoccur at different intervals during a period, which extend through several years. During recurrence of pericarditis, patients are often given high doses of corticosteroids to treat the pain, fever and leukocytosis. The symptoms tend to return when the drug administration is lowered. A high dose is once again administered, and consistently maintained for a month to six weeks, following lowering of the dose again during the next few months. Patients and physicians alike find this steroidal therapy extremely troublesome.

It is only recently, that is in the last decade of the twentieth century that use of colchinine in recurrent pericarditis started gaining notoriety. Randomized trials and studies have shown the drug used in conjunction with conventional treatment to be effective in preventing recurrent pericarditis.

The most common form of recurrent pericarditis is the occurrence of the condition post the first episode of benign idiopathic pericarditis, mostly of a viral origin. Pericarditis relapses can also be due to inadequate anti-inflammatory treatment during the main attack. It might be heartening to know that although the symptoms of recurrent pericarditis are similar to the initial attack, the symptoms and its severity are much milder in relapsing episodes. This means that the characteristics chest pains, ECG changes, and pericardial effusion will be less frequent with recurring episodes.

There are also a few things one can do at home in combination with conventional treatment to prevent recurrent pericarditis, these are:

  • Exercise regularly in the confines of what your doctor has recommended. Taking a brisk 30 minute walk sometimes can suffice.
  • Decrease or preferably stop your intake of fried, greasy, junk food. Avoid saturated fats, and sugars.
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet that consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Drink plenty of water, at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day to flush out waste effectively.
  • Rest your body by getting adequate amounts of sleep. Your body needs time to repair itself from the constant wear and tear, and it does this best when you sleep.
  • Increase your intake of vitamin C, this helps boost the immune system.
  • Herbal therapy can also work to build immunity against infections as well as support the heart. They should strictly be had only after consulting with your doctor. These herbs are astragalus, green tea, and garlic.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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