Patient Comments: Pericarditis - Describe Your Experience

Please describe your experience with pericarditis.

Comment from: Busy Mom, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

My first episode was in 2006 or 2007 when I felt some pain deep inside when I tried to get a good breath. The pain moved into my arms, chest and back, increasing over three days. It peaked on day 4 then slowly diminished over the next 3 days. That pattern became a typical flare up. I thought it was a pulled muscle to begin with. Several months later it happened again and this time I went to the doctor thinking I was possibly having a heart attack. My EKG and x-rays looked okay so I just took ibuprofen to get through the pain. This happened every 3 to 5 months for the next few years, I was misdiagnosed with costochondritis. I also had my gallbladder checked as the pain was bad in my shoulder. I ended up in the emergency room twice with severe pain and unable to get a breath. It hurt the most lying down. The episodes got closer and closer until 2010 when the pain wouldn't stop. I was put on prednisone full time and that helped. I was finally diagnosed with idiopathic pericarditis and am currently under a cardiologist's care, trying to get off prednisone. Every time I go below 4 mg, I get a flare up and have to increase again. Sometimes I get a flare up even when I'm on 4mg of prednisone. Colchicine worked well but it raised my liver enzymes so I had to quit. I also take 400mg ibuprofen a day. In addition to medications I have tried various alternative supplements and going gluten free, which didn't help at all. I worked with a rheumatologist for 8 months thinking it was an auto-immune disorder that may have caused this. But those medicines didn't make any difference. My cardiologist thinks it will go away with time.

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Comment from: waitinginfaith, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

Initially, I had chest pain on my left side all day except when I went to sleep. The pain was bearable. The pain went away for a few days and returned during a family trip. From that point on, the pain increased. The pain increased during and after physical activity. I also noticed that it was worse when I slightly leaned back. Leaning forward relieved the pain. When I returned home I went to my doctor and he immediately diagnosed it as pericarditis. Just to be sure, he ran an EKG and noticed the inflammation in the sac around the heart. He said it is caused by a virus and will take up to two weeks to heal. He prescribed to me Norco (I have to take two pills to relieve the pain, but end up being nauseous). He also gave me an anti-inflammatory drug. He did a blood test to make sure there aren't any other contributing factors. I'm waiting for the results. Stress makes the pain worse. Sitting still quietly for long periods of time seems to lower my pain level. I am on day twelve and I am hoping to have it resolved soon.

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Comment from: pclark14, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 28

I was diagnosed with pericarditis yesterday. The anti-inflammatory medicine has helped but the biggest relief of the systems (besides leaning forward), something I read from a patient, was a heating bag. I wasn't able to sleep as I wasn't leaning forward and putting heat on the place it hurt calmed it enough for me to sleep. Just wanted to pass on this tip.

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Comment from: William, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 25

I have a pacemaker, at this moment in time I have pain in my chest which radiates either way. I cannot bent down to pick anything up. I have had pericarditis before but then I blacked out.

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Comment from: gwl, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 21

I had an attack in December 2013. I had a day and a half in hospital, my pain was eased by sitting up. I had the condition diagnosed about 3 years ago. This was the first attack I have had, no problems since leaving the hospital. All heart tests came back negative.

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Comment from: MadWriter, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 19

I was working some long hours and lifting some heavy merchandise when I felt my left shoulder blade start to hurt. I thought little of it, probably just a strained muscle. Then a week went by and it felt worse and I felt a little feverish, still I thought it was from the overtime. I had a vacation coming up and felt I could just sleep it off. That night I felt the pain move from my left shoulder right across my chest to my right shoulder. I tried going to bed, but no matter how I was positioned in the bed the pain got worse. Eventually I managed to get ten minutes of sleep standing up propped up against the bathroom sink. For the pain, I took about seventeen Aspirins over the course of five hours. My breathing was little shallow puffs as my lungs were collapsing. The pain felt like someone twisting my left arms until it was about to break, while someone else was sticking an icepick in my neck, while a third person was sitting on my chest and rubbing my chest with sandpaper from the inside. I didn't react to any pain medication except morphine which worked for a mere twenty minutes, then it was back to the grueling pain. I was given some antibiotics and some sort of pain killers and was sent home after two days in the hospital. I was also given a warning that it would recur about every two to three years. Well so far, nothing. And I wish this on no one.

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Pericarditis - Symptoms and Signs Question: What symptoms and signs did you experience with your pericarditis?
Pericarditis - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment or procedures did you or a relative receive for pericarditis?
Pericarditis - Causes Question: Did an inflammatory disease or infection cause your pericarditis? What was the cause?

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