What is it?
The pericardium is the thin, sac like membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium. Pericarditis is the most common form of heart involvement in Lupus. In active Lupus, immune complexes can be made that cause inflammation in the pericardium. Pericarditis may be acute or chronic. Acute pericarditis may cause severe chest pain when the pericardium rubs against the heart's outer layer.
Symptoms may include
Sharp chest pain (may change with changes in position, may be relieved by leaning forward, may feel like a heart attack)
Shortness of breath when reclining
Low grade fever
An overall sense of weakness, fatigue or feeling sick
Tests used to diagnose pericarditis include blood tests, chest x-rays, EKGs, echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), CTs and MRIs.
NSAIDs are the first line of treatment for Pericarditis. If it does not respond to NSAIDs, corticosteroids are usually needed. Antimalarials are sometimes used for persistent disease.
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