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Information for patients and families
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.
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 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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