DISEASE MANAGEMENT

 

MANAGING PERICARDITIS STARTS WITH A TEAM APPROACH


You may need to see a number of different healthcare specialists. Most of your care may be given by a cardiologist (heart specialist). Depending on your situation, you may also see:

 
rheumatologist

A rheumatologist (someone who treats autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis—and has a special understanding of autoinflammation)

immunologist

An immunologist (a specialist in infectious diseases)

radiologist

A radiologist (an expert in different imaging tests)

social worker

A clinical social worker or other therapist (specialists who can help you cope with stress)

 

This is not a complete list. The care you receive will depend on your medical history and the kind of care available to you.

 

 

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ACUTE AND RECURRENT PERICARDITIS

Treatment_Illustration

ACUTE PERICARDITIS

After you have been diagnosed with the first acute pericarditis episode, your doctor will prescribe medicines to ease your symptoms.

  • If you have an infection, you may receive medicine to target the bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite
  • You may also receive medicines that relieve pain and inflammation, such as aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

 

Recurrent Pericarditis

If you have recurrent (repeat) pericarditis, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that may include a number of different medicines.

  • NSAIDs
    • Treatment of recurrent pericarditis often begins with aspirin or NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen)
    • These medicines reduce inflammation and ease pain by reducing the chemicals that promote inflammation, pain, and fever
  • COLCHICINE
    • Colchicine relieves inflammation 
    • It works by interfering with cells involved in the inflammatory cycle
  • CORTICOSTEROIDS
    • If you continue to have symptoms, your doctor may suggest corticosteroids
    • These medications work within your immune system to reduce chemicals that cause inflammation
    • Corticosteroids are very powerful in reducing inflammation (and the pain it can cause)
  • Immunomodulating Medications
    • Immunomodulating medicines target the source of autoinflammation
    • Your doctor may describe these medicines to you as “steroid sparing,” but these medicines also carry possible side effects
 

Please note that side effects may occur with any type of medication (prescription or over-the-counter).

Some side effects observed with medications used to treat pericarditis may include upset stomach, diarrhea, increased risk of bleeding, mood changes, or osteoporosis (brittle bones).

Discuss possible side effects with your doctor.

 
 

CURRENTLY, most medicines used for treatment are Not FDA APPROVED SPECIFICALLY FOR RECURRENT PERICARDITIS


Some of the medicines your doctor uses, such as NSAIDs and pain relievers, have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat a condition or disease. However, these medicines have not been studied specifically for the treatment of recurrent pericarditis. Your doctor is permitted to use them and they have been accepted by the medical community as the best way to treat your symptoms.

 

Kiniksa is committed to improving the lives of individuals with recurrent pericarditis through dedicated treatment research.

 
Active Flare

 

 

The steroids aren't the best. They may stop the pain, the pressure, but they do bring their own pain.

Vanessa, Living With Pericarditis

TAKE CHARGE

 

THERE ARE ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THAT MAY HELP RELIEVE YOUR SYMPTOMS OR POSSIBLY REDUCE THE RISK OF RECURRENT PERICARDITIS

Talk to your physician to determine your best treatment plan. Some individuals with pericarditis have reported that the following tips have helped them manage their situations:

 

  • Be sure to allow yourself to recover completely from an existing episode
     
  • Get plenty of rest
     
  • Follow the treatment plan worked out with your doctor, keep your doctor appointments, and take your medicine as directed
  • Don’t return to physical activity until your doctor tells you it’s okay
    • Exercise may further damage the delicate tissues of the pericardium or the heart itself

MANAGE YOUR STRESS AND PAIN

Discuss management options with your doctor to determine what works best for you. Ask about:

Breathing exercises (shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure)

Breathing exercises (shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure)

Trying meditation (also shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure)

Trying meditation (also shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure)

Different options

Different options that may help mitigate pain when lying down. You may want to try elevating your head and chest, including a wedge under your mattress, or look into an adjustable bed

AVOID TRIGGERS

Everyone who suffers from recurrent pericarditis may experience different triggers. Some individuals have reported that the following precautions may help avoid triggering flares. This is not a comprehensive list. You may wish to talk to your physician about:

Limiting caffeine

Limiting caffeine, alcohol, excess heat, stress, and periods of elevated heart rate

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Trying to regulate strenuous exercise. Exercise may trigger a recurrence, and physicians have advised individuals to keep their heart rate under 100 beats per minute with moderate activity. Some individuals with pericarditis have reported using a fitness tracker to keep track of their heart rate


notebook

You may wish to track your triggers. If you have a repeat pericarditis flare, consider what you may have been doing or how you were feeling. Did you drink caffeine or feel stress before your symptoms began? Was it a hot day? Were you exercising? By identifying and tracking your triggers, you can work to avoid future pericarditis recurrences.

Myth Fact

 

THE IMPACT

 

PERICARDITIS AFFECTS EACH PERSON DIFFERENTLY. EARLY CARE CAN HELP AVOID COMPLICATIONS.

 
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Some people may experience pericardial effusion.

This happens when fluid builds up in the pericardium. Your doctor will detect if you have pericardial effusion by ordering an echocardiogram or MRI.

Comp 2

When pericardial effusion worsens (too much fluid builds up or the fluid builds up too quickly), people can experience cardiac tamponade.

In cardiac tamponade, the fluid-filled pericardium can affect the proper function of the heart. This can be serious and life threatening. If cardiac tamponade occurs, your doctor will discuss options to ease the buildup of fluid. Fluid can be removed with a needle or tube (a procedure called pericardiocentesis) or by creation of a small window in your pericardium to drain the fluid (a procedure called pericardiotomy).

Comp 3

Another risk, although rare, is constrictive pericarditis

The pericardial sac becomes scarred and stiff, limiting the heart’s pumping action. This can occur in someone during the first (acute) episode or after recurrent (repeat) pericarditis flares. In some cases of constrictive pericarditis, the pericardium may need to be partially or completely removed. This surgery, called a pericardiectomy, can have serious risks, so it is considered a “last option” your doctor will work with you to avoid.

Doctors were very quick to attribute it to some sort of mental or emotional stress, and that made even the path to getting acknowledgment of these acute episodes very, very difficult.

Anna, Living With Pericarditis

IF YOUR RECURRENT PERICARDITIS HAS CAUSED ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION, YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Physical pain is often followed by a fear of recurrent (repeat) flares, which can affect your emotional well-being.

Because it often occurs when lying down, pericarditis pain can lead to lack of sleep, which, in turn, can cause sadness, anxiety, and feelings of being alone.

Individuals with recurrent pericarditis have reported that the condition can affect their emotions and quality of life.


 

34of the respondents said they have depression
37of the respondents said they feel anxiety

 

In a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers conducted a web-based survey of 83 adults aged 18 and older with recurrent pericarditis. The goal of the study was to understand the clinical characteristics and the quality of life burden that the condition has on their daily life. For these patients, almost half said they feared the next flare "quite a bit" or "very much."

Drguife

PERICARDITIS AND COVID-19

 

Pericarditis is one more reason to avoid COVID-19.

COVID-19 has been shown to affect those with compromised immune systems more severely.

This includes individuals with pericarditis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask and social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19. Research now indicates that the virus can have an impact on the heart (and has been shown to trigger some cases of pericarditis). If you develop COVID-19 symptoms or suspect you may be infected, be sure to tell any healthcare providers you see that you have a history of pericarditis. This will help them manage your care appropriately.

Living With Pericarditis

LEARN FROM PEOPLE LIVING WITH PERICARDITIS

Living with

With the significant physical and emotional burden of recurrent pericarditis, people just like you are learning how best to live with the challenges of the disease. 

 

After 5 years, I've learned once I feel the symptoms, I start immediately taking colchicine.

Jill, Living With Pericarditis

Vanessa, 34

This mother of 3 isn’t letting pericarditis win, using the most powerful weapon she has found to battle the disease — a big smile and a positive attitude.

Watch her story
Vanessa
Vanessa

I still have to live my life. I have to take care of my kids. I have to work. So, at this moment, I just push through it.

Vanessa, Living With Pericarditis

Jill, 50

She has a preplanned response when she feels a flare approaching that includes the support of family and a close relationship with her cardiologist

Watch her story
Jill
Jill

Dona, 51

Dona had hoped that after multiple episodes and rounds of medication, it would be a quick road to recovery. Listen as she navigates the path toward “getting healthy again.”

Dona, 51

Dona’s Podcast Episode 3

Audio file
Resources

See more stories

Hear and see the full stories from others who have experienced the pain, frustration, and fallout from recurrent pericarditis.

See all stories

KEEP UP TO DATE ABOUT PERICARDITIS

Access the latest information about recurrent pericarditis community resources, news, and research, including information about services and programs that Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals offers or sponsors.