Recurrent pericarditis (NORD)

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Recurrent pericarditis (NORD)

Information for patients and families

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

Recurrent pericarditis (NORD)

Autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1 (NORD)

Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (NORD)

Thyroid eye disease (NORD)

Bile synthesis disorders (NORD)

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (NORD)

Eosinophilic esophagitis (NORD)

Short bowel syndrome (NORD)

Essential thrombocythemia (NORD)

Myelofibrosis (NORD)

Polycythemia vera (NORD)

Sickle cell disease (NORD)

Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (NORD)

Warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia and cold agglutinin (NORD)

Congenital athymia (NORD)

Cytomegalovirus infection after transplant (NORD)

Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (NORD)

Severe chronic neutropenia (NORD)

Adrenoleukodystrophy (NORD)

Alagille syndrome (NORD)

Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase deficiency (NORD)

Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (NORD)

Classical homocystinuria (NORD)

Congenital cytomegalovirus (NORD)

Cystinuria (NORD)

Fabry disease (NORD)

Gaucher disease (NORD)

Glycogen storage disease type II (NORD)

Metachromatic leukodystrophy (NORD)

Mucopolysaccharide storage disease type 1 (Hurler syndrome) (NORD)

Mucopolysaccharide storage disease type 2 (Hunter syndrome) (NORD)

Mycobacterium avium complex (NORD)

NGLY1 deficiency (NORD)

Niemann-Pick disease types A and B (NORD)

Phenylketonuria (NORD)

PIK3CA-related overgrowth spectrum (NORD)

Tay-Sachs disease (NORD)

Zellweger spectrum disorders (NORD)

Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy (NORD)

Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (NORD)

Spinocerebellar ataxia (NORD)

Narcolepsy (NORD)

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (NORD)

IgA nephropathy (NORD)

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (NORD)


Recurrent pericarditis is a disease characterized by recurring episodes of swelling or inflammation of the fluid filled sac surrounding the heart, the pericardium.

Pericarditis is considered recurrent when an episode occurs at least four to six weeks after the end of a previous episode.

Each episode may last days to weeks and be followed by a period of time with no symptoms between episodes.

The main symptom of a pericarditis episode is a sharp chest pain that increases when taking deep breaths and lying down.

Pain may decrease when bending forward and may spread to the neck, upper back, or shoulders.

Other symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, tiredness, not feeling well, and a feeling that the heart is beating too hard or fast.

Symptoms of a recurrent pericarditis episode are usually similar to, but less severe than, the first episode. If the pericarditis becomes severe, blood flow throughout the body may decrease.

This decreased blood flow may make symptoms more intense, and may cause new symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, nausea, clammy moist skin, feet swelling, and loss of consciousness.

Anything that can cause pericarditis can also cause recurrent pericarditis. Most often this includes autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis, but may also be caused by metabolic disorders such as kidney failure, and rare inflammatory diseases like familial Mediterranean fever.

Recurrent pericarditis can also be caused by pericardial infections from viruses, drugs that target the pericardium, cancer, heart attacks and cardiac surgery.


Recurrent pericarditis is a condition characterized by multiple episodes of inflammation of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart. Recurrent pericarditis is often caused by autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis; metabolic disorders such as kidney failure inflammatory diseases like familial Mediterranean fever; but anything that can cause pericarditis can also cause recurrent pericarditis.

Symptoms include stabbing chest pain radiating to the neck or the back, shortness of breath, extreme tiredness, tachycardia, and irregular heartbeats. A diagnosis is typically made based on a clinical examination, an electrocardiogram, and blood tests, and it is commonly treated with anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation and pain, and colchicine to prevent recurrences.


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