Posted 3/16/2013 8:02 PM (GMT -6)
I am new to this site and have found it very informative, although I am sorry there are so many out there who are dismissed or misdiagnosed when presenting with pericarditis symptoms. I believe that I had this for 3 months in 2012 and was shuffled from an ER, where I had the million dollar cardiac work-up and sent home (all clear from cardiac cath, EKG, ECG and cardiac enzymes), to my PCP who was convinced I had GERD. When treatment for that did not help and after having a completely clear upper endoscopy, he pretty much washed his hands and threw me back to cardiology.
Well, by the time I got to a cardiologist, the symptoms had completely subsided. But just to make sure I had done everything I could to help rule out CAD, I scheduled a heart scan. The calcium score was "zero", meaning absolutely no calcification inside or outside of the scanned arteries. The appointment with the cardiologist went well and he assured me that structurally there is nothing wrong with my heart, no blockages, ejection fraction was good and the muscle itself seemed strong, based on all of the medical documentation I had brought with me. Unfortunately, since the symptoms had subsided, I still could not get a conclusive diagnosis.
On March 8, 2013, the pain in my chest began to creep in and by the middle of the afternoon I was in moderate discomfort. I have worked in the disability field for years and for some reason, after all of this, I thought maybe this was pericarditis (the light went on). I googled symptoms of pericarditis and I was having textbook symptoms. I called the cardiologist, spoke to a nurse and she scheduled an appointment for me on 3/18/13, told me she was going to speak to the doctor and call me back. Can I just say I love this office?!! She called me back within 10 minutes and the doctor advised that I begin ibuprofen 800 mg 3x/day for inflammation. But, if this did not help to relieve the pain, it probably was not pericarditis and to call them back.
Unfortunately, or maybe it was fortunate, it did not help and I ended up in th ER again a few days later with intense pain, but thankfully the ER doctor was willing to listen to the history and after all the cardiac protocals were completed and everything was normal, he ordered a CT scan, which showed the effusion. I was admitted, given IV pain medication and began treatment with indocin. I was in the hospital for nearly 3 days, but when the pain became manageable without IV dilaudid, I was allowed to go home. I missed a week of work and hope to go back on Monday.
I guess what I want people to know is DO NOT let ER's send you home until they find out what is causing the pain. I had 3 months of hell in 2012 and would not have if the ER doctor had had some real interest in determining the cause of the pain. I have been on Indocin now since 3/13/13 and the pain is manageable with aspirin and tylenol. I am absolutely keeping the appointment on 3/18, and if the pain has not subsided more by then, meaning inflammation is reducing, I plan on speaking to the cardiologist about colchicine, as well.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps someone struggling with these symptoms and cannot get a conclusive diagnosis. Insist on a CT scan and ECG--I truly believe had a CT scan not been performed, I would have had the same outcome as last year.