I had pericarditis in my early 20's - twice within a 6-month span. Some people do experience complications (restrictive(?) pericarditis), but I understand this is pretty unusual. There is also a tendency for it to reoccur months (or even a year) after it was initially treated - could this be what you are experiencing?
About 15 years ago, I was told that the sack around my heart was thickened and that I had had pericarditis at some point in my life. I believe it most likely occured when I was 12 years old following a severe respiratory infection. My first symptom was that it hurt to breathe in deeply. My heart would race just going up a flight of stairs and I would get out of breath easily. I would have skipped beats as well - something I had never experienced before. Whatever it was, it approx a year before I was completely okay. That was back in 1964. The doctor did not know what was going on and ended up thinking it was most likely anxiety on my part.
Then 15 years ago I was told I had had pericarditis and that the sack around my heart was thickened. When I looked it up - everything fit the difficuties I had that year as a child.
I'm asking about it because in a couple of weeks the doctor is going to be looking at my heart to see if indeed the sack is thickened. He thinks there is a small possibility that my heart could be a little restricted in its capacity to relax and fill.
If it is true, it would explain several minor but annoying symptoms.
Of course it could be that he will find nothing and that everything is normal. I guess I will find out soon.
[This message has been edited by rainonwindow (edited 10-27-2003).]
Hi again rainonwindow:
I was fortunate my pericarditis was treated quickly, as I've experienced no complications over the years. From what I remember reading about restrictive pericarditis, the treatment is to remove the sections that are thickened and/or are interfering with the actions of the heart. May I ask how they determined your pericardium was thickened? Echo?
Pain often has no memory, but I recall the first episode very clearly. It was an intense, radiating pain throughout my left, upper chest area. I could not take in a normal breath without excrutiating pain. Although I was only 21 at the time, I was convinced I was having a heart attack. Off to the MIR (I was in the military at the time), where an EKG was performed. I was told it was pericarditis, prescibed what I believe were antibiotics, and returned to my unit. Several months later, the same thing - only this time I didn't bother going to the MIR. I found that if I ignored the pain and simply took a huge, quick intake of air, the pressure or whatever it was disappeared and I was fine.
Does this sound like what you experienced?
Yes, my first symptom was sharp pain on inspiration. Your pain symptoms though sound like they were possibly more severe than what I experienced. Did you ever experience shortness of breath or your heart racing with mild exertion?
You mentioned that you were given medications and sent back to your unit - does that mean that you were expected to go about your normal routine? I have a hard time imagining that a doctor would want you to do that. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you said.
Did the diagnosis scare you? It would have given me the creeps.
[This message has been edited by rainonwindow (edited 10-31-2003).]
Sorry I haven't responded sooner - haven't had a chance to visit the site lately. In answer to your first question, yes - it was difficult to breathe (because of pain) but I didn't have shortness of breath, per se. The doctor I saw returned me to my unit with a "reduced workload" script. Basically, I was required to take it easy for about a week (no PT but otherwise normal activity). He was so nonchalant about the entire episode that I was led to believe it was nothing to be concerned about. My present doctor wasn't all that concerned that I ever had pericarditis, she just noted it in my history. This, presumably because I didn't have the complications you're experiencing. I realize now I pretty lucky.
Thank you for your reply. I appreciate that you have shared your experience with me. I have never met anybody else who had been told by a doctor that they had this. It's just not something I hear about. I also have told doctors over the years about the pericarditis. They never seemed concerned either. And now suddenly I am having a stress echo to see if the sack is thickened ( like I was told) and if that thickening is impairing my hearts ability to fill. It was just a suprise to me. It is entirely possible that everything will be okay. I will be having the stress echo on the 18th - will find out soon after that I guess.
Last edited by rainonwindow; 11-05-2003 at 10:07 PM.