The animated videos in NORD’s Rare Disease Video Library provide brief introductions to rare disease topics for patients, caregivers, students, professionals and the public. NORD collaborates with medical experts, patient organizations, videographers and Osmosis to develop the videos, which are made possible by individual donations, educational grants and corporate sponsorships. NORD is solely responsible for the content.
Recurrent pericarditis is a disease characterized by recurrent episodes of inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac containing the heart. The main symptom associated with an episode of pericarditis is chest pain that is typically sharp and worse when taking a deep breath (pleuritic). Shortness of breath (dyspnea) also occurs frequently. Recurrent pericarditis can develop in individuals of any age. The first-line therapy for pericarditis, including for recurrent cases, is a combination of colchicine and either aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Although recurrent pericarditis can significantly affect quality of life, it is typically not life threatening or associated with serious illness, and patients are usually well between episodes.
As discussed below, there are numerous causes (etiologies) of pericarditis. Most cases of recurrent pericarditis are idiopathic, that is, the specific cause is not known. Pericarditis is often classified based on the timing of symptoms. A new-onset episode of pericarditis is called acute pericarditis. Episodes lasting more than 4 to 6 weeks but less than 3 months are called incessant pericarditis, while episodes lasting more than 3 months are known as chronic pericarditis. Recurrent pericarditis is defined as an episode of acute pericarditis that occurs at least 4 to 6 weeks after the resolution of a prior episode. Recurrences can occur months or even years after an initial episode.