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MCNels
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/8/2010 8:28 AM (GMT -6)   
I was diagnosed about six years ago with pericarditis.  At that time I had come in complaining of chest pain, heart palpitations, fever, feeling like fainting, shortness of breath, etc.  Because of the heart palpitations, they sent me for an exercise stress test in which I had a few beats of ventricular tachycardia.  Because of this, they sent me for more cardiac tests; the only thing they found was pericarditis - just a small amount of fluid at that time - probably because this was about a month after I first came in and had been on antibiotics and steroids.  Since that time, I'm sure I have had more episodes of pericarditis because I keep getting the same symptoms, but the doctors can never hear anything and the few chest x-rays I've had have not shown any fluid - so they are always saying it must be my asthma or maybe a sinus infection and giving me antibiotics and steroids.  The steroids do seem to help with these symptoms, but I know it is more than my asthma,  but I'm not able to convince the doctors.  I get pneumonia quite often too - at least once or twice a year (chest x-ray proven).
 
about a month and a half ago, I started getting all the symptoms again, but this time it was just intermittent left-sided chest pain - not constant so I didn't go see a doctor right away.  When I came down with a fever of 101.6 and started feeling worse, I went in.  The doctor, of course, had no clue what was wrong with me.  I asked him about pericarditis, but he couldn't hear anything so didn't think it was.   He thought it could be a walking pneumonia or sinus infection and asthma flare and gave me antibiotics/steroids again.  I feel better since then but still have this intermittent chest pain.  It's so frustrating when they keep telling me it's just my asthma - because I know it's more than that.  My asthma does usually flare when I'm having these symptoms, but I know the difference. 
 
Do my symptoms sound like pericarditis?  Has anybody had just intermittent pain - not constant?  I keep wondering if I should make another appointment with the doctor I saw last time, but I feel better - I just keep having this intermittent chest pain - which isn't as severe as it was either.  If I make another appointment, the doctor will probably tell me everything is okay and will probably think I'm paranoid (which the doctors I have seen probably already think). 

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/8/2010 10:50 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome to HealingWell,


Pericarditis is usually sudden and short-lived (acute). When symptoms develop more gradually or persist, the condition is considered chronic. The sharp chest pain associated with pericarditis occurs when the inflamed or irritated two layers of the pericardium rub against each other.
Mild cases may improve on their own. Treatment for more-severe cases may include medications and, rarely, surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment may help to reduce the risk of long-term complications.

Acute pericarditis usually lasts less than a few weeks. Chronic pericarditis lasts six months or longer.

If you have acute pericarditis, the most common symptom is sharp, stabbing chest pain behind the breastbone or in the left side of your chest. However, some people with acute pericarditis describe their chest pain as dull, achy or pressure-like instead, and of varying intensity.

The pain of acute pericarditis may travel into your left shoulder and neck. It often intensifies when you lie down or inhale deeply. Coughing, taking a deep breath or swallowing food also may make the pain worse. Sitting up and leaning forward can often ease the pain.

I am wondering if you ever had a CAT scan or an MRI when you were evaluated for the cause of your chest pain ?

Medications to reduce the inflammation and swelling associated with pericarditis are often prescribed, including:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Most pain associated with pericarditis responds well to treatment with aspirin or another NSAID.

Colchicine. This drug, which reduces inflammation in the body, may be prescribed as a first line treatment for pericarditis or as a treatment for recurrent symptoms. Colchicine can reduce the length of pericarditis symptoms and decreases the risk that the condition will recur. However, the drug is not safe for people with certain pre-existing health problems, such as liver or kidney disease.

Corticosteroids. If you don't respond to NSAIDs or colchicine or if you have recurrent symptoms of pericarditis, your doctor may prescribe a steroid medication such as prednisone.

Acute episodes of pericarditis typically last from one to three weeks, but future episodes can occur. about one in five people with pericarditis has a recurrence within months of the original episode.

If you are not feeling comfortable with your current physician I would encourage you to seek a second opinion. Be you own best advocate when it comes to your health.

Please keep us posted and know we are here to support you.

Kindly,

Kitt
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

Post Edited (stkitt) : 1/26/2011 3:26:01 PM (GMT-7)


MCNels
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/9/2010 11:55 AM (GMT -6)   

I did have a MRI along with echocardiogram/chest x-ray/electrocardiogram at the time they found the V tach.  The MRI was where they saw the pericarditis (although at that time they said it wasn't alot of fluid).   By the time I had the MRI, I had been on antibiotics and steroids for at least three weeks.  Wouldn't this have made the fluid go down quite a bit? 

I've been told by a few different doctors that you can't hear pericarditis by stethoscope unless there is a lot of fluid and that it doesn't always show up on chest x-ray?  Is this right? 

I have an appointment with my primary physician for a week from Friday.  I'm not sure if I should keep this appointment or just wait until I have another bout.  Right now I'm only having intermittent chest pain - that seems to be happening less often and much less severe.  I'm afraid if my primary physician would send me for another echo/MRI right now and I'm not having many symptoms, would anything actually show up on the scan or echo?  I don't want to have to pay for all these test and have them not show anything.  I'm wondering if I should wait until I have another episode.


MCNels
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/16/2010 9:40 AM (GMT -6)   
I am seeing my primary physician on Friday.  Lately I haven't had any symptoms of pericarditis (the chest pain has almost disappeared).   My allergy doctor told me to go back to my primary physician hecause he thought my symptoms sounded like pericarditis (which I was diagnosed with years ago).  I'm worried if I go see my primary doctor and I'm feeling good, he'll still send me for tests (echo/EKG/etc) because of what the allergy doctor said.  If I'm not having any symptoms now, would anything show up on any of the tests?  I know it's hard to see the fluid on chest x-rays even when you're having an episode.  Should I ask him to wait for these tests until I have another episode?  I just don't want to have to pay for all these tests and have them show nothing. 

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/16/2010 10:59 AM (GMT -6)   
Good Morning,


Mild cases may improve on their own. I would like to suggest you see your physician and see what he has to say. If you are sx free and don't feel you need any further testing at this time you always have the right to refuse the tests. I understand how expensive these tests can be.



Write down your questions for your Doctor so you will remember to discuss all your concerns and good luck on Friday.



Kindly,



Kitt

MCNels
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/23/2010 8:59 AM (GMT -6)   
I saw the primary care doctor on Friday.  He didn't want to run any tests now - because I was feeling better and he isn't sure that it really is pericarditis.  He said next time I get sick to come back in and they will do tests at that time.  He said there wasn't many chest x-rays to compare because every time I go in, they hardly ever do a chest x-ray -to save money since I am an employee here.  He said I definitely am getting way too many frequent infections (proof of fever, etc), but that he doesn't know if it is pericarditis since I've been diagnosed with pericarditis once, pneumonia multiple times, bronchitis multiple times, asthma exacerbations, sinus infections, etc.  He said I could have some underlying autoimmune disease going on because I also have hypothyroidism, but that maybe this hasn't manifest yet.  This is so frustrating!  

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/23/2010 11:12 AM (GMT -6)   
I understand your frustrations and hope if you become ill again the Dr. will run more tests to see what may be your problem.


Take care and thank you for the update.



Kindly,



Kitt

anodyne13
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/24/2010 5:32 PM (GMT -6)   
I thought I'd hop in on this thread as it seems similar to my problems, but in a different way I suppose. I am diagnosed with it and keep wondering if I have it!

I do have chronic afib, no question, and also have restrictive lung disease. The afib can cause shortness of breath and other wonderful symptoms of course. I take meds for the afib and also lasix as the afib tends to cause CHF and edema.

Last year I started having trouble breathing and ran a low temp. Took a round of antibiotics but when the breathing kept getting worse I went into the pulmonologist. Hey, breathing, pulmonologist, right? CT scan showed pneumonia maybe, pericardial effusion definitely, and pleural effusion. Within a week of being treated for this with antibiotics and steroids I ended up being taken to the hospital via ambulance from the doctor's office due to my extreme breathing difficulties. By then the pericardial effusion was quite large according to the Echo done at the time. I was put on 6 lpm of O2 which is a lot.

Anyhow I spent 8 days in the hospital and was finally released. I kept having relapses of fever, difficulty with breathing, and every time it set me back a lot. I was put on other steroids and got muscle wasting and neuropathy but the pain receded. They took me off of steroids and I continued to have minor discomfort which was just tolerated by all. My cardio eventually did a MRI and it didn't show anything on the pericarditis which was a relief so I decided I just had to live with the discomfort which wasn't all that bad.

I should add that I never had the excruciating pain that I hear some people have with pericarditis. My pain was on breathing at first. I could breath in and at a certain point it would hurt. Then it hurt earlier on the breathe in. Then it hurt all the time. I am not sure where the pain was when it all started. It was positional and I had to sleep in my recliner as I couldn't do so laying down or either side. Anyhow the pain did radiate to shoulders, etc. It hurt, yes, but I would not consider it excruciating. The neuropathy brought on stuff that did bring me to tears though. After it was all somewhat over I continued to have a discomfort in my right chest. Again, it was mostly on breathing.

Anyhow, after the MRI I decided I didn't really have pericarditis anymore so quit worrying about it being a chronic condition leading to restrictive pericarditis which had concerned me. Recently however, I got the same series of symptoms I had when it all started. It first started out with almost a laryngitis feeling (I couldn't talk for about 2 months before -- or at least not well), I couldn't breathe deeply, then couldn't breathe at all without discomfort, and started getting pains in my back shoulders, etc. and discomfort in certain positions when I moved.

I had a regularly scheduled appointment with the pulmonologist and he was concerned we were about to revisit last year. He prescribed colchicine and I have been on an antibiotic again. I am feeling better. He seems to think it is the pericarditis again, but frankly I am not sure why except for my strange chest discomfort/pain. When he prescribed the medicine he said he wanted to keep me out of the hospital. A great strategy I believe, but I am concerned about what is really happening to me. I wish I had asked him if he heard the rub or not. I know the EKG has never shown anything. With the effusion it showed up on on the CT and the Echo, but my problems continued on even after those things looked clear. My CRP is high and that was touted as pointing to the pericarditis. When it was a lot better my CRP was even higher -- this disturbed me and I was told that it wasn't a quantative measure. My question then is how could it lead to the ongoing pericarditis diagnosis at first? I am just disturbed. Clearly something is going on in the chest cavity, and I may not have enough of a handle on how everything affects the other.

Any thoughts? I will say I am planning on a cruise where I must be healthy in January and don't want to get into a downward spiral again. I am just beginning to feel good, still can't do half of what I did before this all happened, and planned on the time being used to build muscle not to fiddle around with some mysterious bodily function!

Hope I haven't bored to sleep anyone reading this, and there may be some good advice coming ---

Thanks in advance

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/24/2010 6:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Pericarditis is usually sudden and short-lived (acute). When symptoms develop more gradually or persist, the condition is considered chronic. The sharp chest pain associated with pericarditis occurs when the inflamed or irritated two layers of the pericardium rub against each other.



Chronic pericarditis is usually associated with an accumulation of excess fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion). Often painless, the most common symptom of chronic pericarditis is shortness of breath.



Wondering if you had any tests this time around; MRI, CT Scan or Echo.



Also if you do not feel like you are getting the right answers do seek out a new cardiologist for a second opinion. Remember to be your own best advocate and ask your Dr. to explain in simple terms what the test results mean.



Keep us posted,



Kitt

anodyne13
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 6/24/2010 8:19 PM (GMT -6)   
No, this time they did not do tests, just put me on the medicine.

I had an effusion the last time, but even after the effusion was not there, according to Echos, etc. the discomfort on breathing persisted. What I am wondering is whether there is another thing that goes wrong in the chest cavity that could do this.

I also figured it was the effusion that made me have less pain than most with the condition; at least that is what my reading indicated. I didn't know that you got effusion generally after it was chronic, as certainly as far as diagnosis went, I had effusion from the start before.

dentist
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 1/26/2011 6:44 AM (GMT -6)   
shakehead  After reading these posts, I feel like all of you have been down the road that I'm entering now.  I had bouts of pericarditis before.  The cardiologists diagnosed it as costochondritis.  They ran an echo, listened for a rub, ct, blood test, and stress test.  My cardiologist said the ct showed some fluid, but no big deal.  The EKG showed some irregularites, but was not conclusive for pericarditis either.  I was given different types of NSAIDS, but it kept recurring.  I was put on Prednisone over New Years, and it made me feel fantastic.  I was able to excercise again, and felt just great.  When the Prednisone was done, I read about Colchisine and asked my Cardiologist if I could try it out.  I did for about a week, then started feeling pain in the area of my kidneys.  I went in for a blood test and everything looked okay except for my platelets( which were way down).  My doctor took me off Colchisine.  Well...the Pericarditis (or whatever it is) is back.  I've been up all night.  I took Indomethacin at the first sign of pain, and to no avail.  I feel miserable.  It feel like I have pain every time my heart beats.  I have pain radiating from my chest to my back and up to my adam's apple.  I feel like I can't take a full breath.  My feet and hands are very cold, and I feel very alone.  I feel powerless to do anything about this.  I have the means and insurance to see anyone who can help me with this.  Other than the Pericarditis, I am in good shape.  I work out daily eat right, and my weight is appropriate for my height.  The only medication that I was on was Propecia for hair loss. (I hope that is not one of the possible side effects)  I am 48 years old.  I can't live like this.  I need help.  Please?

anodyne13
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 1/26/2011 10:51 AM (GMT -6)   
The colchichine worked very well for me though they have now raised the price of it a lot. As it is prescribed for gout I am surprised at the kidney interaction, and wonder if that was just a coincidence.

Since my previous post, I have had the maze surgery for afib. When they went in they found that I had a lot of scarring from pericarditis. In fact, I was going to get a mini-maze and they couldn't do it that way because of all the scarring. Guess I really had it, and very badly. Perhaps it is was ongoing, as I was being treated for it ongoing. It is frightening to me that I was unsure about it due to the iffyness of all the tests (with the effusion, when it was large that was seen, but after it went away, one could always say that there was no such thing happening to me). My LAA was completely enclosed in scar tissue, the heart was attached to the pulmonary veins by scar tissue, in another spot the lungs were attached to the heart. BTW, the after effect of maze surgery because they cut the pericardium is pericarditis, but it is not as bad as when I had it before.

If you look at the Cleveland Clinic site they say that it can go on forever -- or at least 15 years which would seem like forever. Steroids are wonderful but you can't take them forever, that is why the colchichine is so nice. I hope there is another med coming out to replace it.

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 1/26/2011 5:25 PM (GMT -6)   
 
Welcome to HealingWell.  I am glad to meet you and look forward to getting to know you better.

I have found the support, validation and encouragement that I receive here, to be so helpful and healing. I hope and trust that will be your experience as a member of the HW family.

With the symptoms you are having I would certainly see another cardiologist. Your symptoms do fit criteria for pericarditis however, that being said, other things could be going on.  Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, is considered one of the best in the nation for heart care and  specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pericarditis.

Mayo Clinic in Arizona is another high ranked heart center.

I hope we were able to help you in some small way.

Kindly,

Kitt


~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

derekmarkovic
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 3/18/2011 6:49 PM (GMT -6)   
@Dentist-How are you currently feeling? Have your symptoms resolved? I could have written that post! I've been going through almost all of the symptoms, even the cold feet! My cardiologist said my cardiac showed a small amount of fluid too, though he says it was not significant. I just want relief from this. This has been going on for 8 months now and it's driving me insane. I've been to four cardiologists and none have been able to do much for me.

dentist
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 3/21/2011 1:00 PM (GMT -6)   
I went to the Cleveland Clinic to see Dr. Klein.  He's got me on 800mg of Ibuprofen 3x/day.  This is helping a little.  The outbreaks have slowed down from every other week to once every three weeks.  I'm having an outbreak as we speak.  It seems to be much milder though so far, and if it doesn't get much worse than this, I will be extremely happy.
 
I have seen an Eastern doc too, where I was put on a regimen of lots of herbs.  Maybe that is why the outbreak seems to be mild so far?
 
I have cut back alcohol and caffiene significantly, as they seem to make everything worse.  The only other thing is the heart palpitations that I get nearly every day.  They can last as long as a few hours.  It seems to be better if I completely cut out the caffiene. 
 
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.  I would definitely go to the experts at Mayo or Cleveland Clinic.  See Dr. Klein if you go to Cleveland.  When it is hurting you, it is doing long-term damage, and eventually surgery may be the only answer.  Do not let them put you on Steroids.  It makes everything much worse, and is nearly impossible to get off.  Ask about Colchisine.  It is the single best drug out there for recurrent Pericarditis.  My body did not like it at all.  Good luck!

Cannoli
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 9/20/2011 5:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi.. I too have been diagnosed with pericarditis.. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with AFib. I had tried several meds before going off and dealing with symptoms as they occurred. I was losing my hair in handfuls, many bouts of exhaustion, weakness, passed out a number of times. This past Dec. I had all the classic symptoms of pericarditis. Went to the ER but that could not diagnose and said that I probably had a virus. The following day I saw my cardiologist and he diagnosed me with pericarditis. I am wondering if I have had recurrent pericarditis all of this time. I am still losing hair and am very irritable. I currently have dry red skin around my mouth and forehead and my mouth is very dry despite all the water that I drink. My hair is very short and thin now and I just know this is a result of the pericarditis. I have an appt with my cardiologist on Monday and have started back on the ibuprofen already. I am thinking of going to the Cleveland Clinic... Has anybody else lost hair from pericarditis?

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 9/20/2011 6:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello Cannoli
I have heard of people with pericarditis losing patches of hair.  There are many reasons for hair loss. Hair loss could be due to stress, medication, and autoimmune disease plus many other issues. 
 
You will hear some people refer to viral pericarditis.   It is difficult to prove that the pericarditis is caused by a viral infection. You also mentioned meds...........that may be your culprit as I know of several meds that cause hair loss that we would not expect to.
 
I hope your Dr. can shed some light on this problem  as I can only imagine how devestating this must be for you.
 
Kindly,
 
Kitt
 
 
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be"
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