Recurrent pericarditis: new and emerging therapeutic options

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Abstract

Recurrent pericarditis is one of the most common and troublesome complications after an episode of pericarditis, and affects 20–50% of patients treated for pericarditis. In most of these patients, the pericarditis remains idiopathic, although an immune-mediated (either autoimmune or autoinflammatory) pathogenesis is often presumed. The mainstay of therapy for recurrences is aspirin or NSAIDs, with the adjunct of colchicine. Corticosteroids are a second-line option to be considered for specific indications, such as connective tissue disease or pregnancy; contraindications or intolerance to aspirin, NSAIDs, and/or colchicine; or insufficient response to these medications. Furthermore, corticosteroids can be added to NSAIDs and colchicine in patients with persistent symptoms. In patients who do not respond adequately to any of these conventional therapies, alternative treatment options include azathioprine, intravenous human immunoglobulins, and anakinra. An improved understanding of how recurrent pericarditis develops after an initiating event is critical to prevent this complication, and further research is needed into the pathogenesis of recurrences. We discuss the aetiology and diagnosis of recurrent pericarditis, and extensively review the treatment options for this condition.

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