Lupus can contribute to pericarditis – inflammation of the pericardium, a part of the heart. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect many areas of the body, including skin, joints and kidneys. Lupus can also affect the heart in numerous ways as the heart consists of many tissues that can become inflamed and scar. Arteries leading to the heart can narrow, causing damage and disrupting blood flow.
Pericarditis is a common heart complication as a result of lupus. The pericardium is a protective cushion that surrounds the heart and cushions the chest. Lupus can cause the pericardium to become inflamed, which can lead to chest pains. This pain can become worsened with deep breaths and through the changing of bodily positions. Although the condition is not life threatening, it can be quite painful, and when a lupus patient develops it medical attention should be sought out to ensure a heart attack is not taking place.
Lupus is a condition categorized by tissue inflammation. As an autoimmune disease the body’s immune system begins to attack its own tissue thus contributing to inflammation.
Although anyone can develop pericarditis, it is quite common in those with lupus so it is sometimes referred to as lupus pericarditis. Rates of pericarditis are generally higher in those with lupus than the general public.
Aside from pericarditis, lupus can affect the heart in other ways, including the following conditions:
Symptoms of lupus pericarditis include:
Diagnosis of pericarditis involves the use of different tests to get a proper diagnosis. Medical tests that your doctor may request are:
The main form of treatment for lupus patients with pericarditis involves the use of anti-inflammatory medication. If this treatment is not effective, corticosteroids may be used instead for a shorter duration.
Treatment is generally short and discontinued when the patient is feeling better. This is to ensure minimal side effects and complications by the corticosteroids. In patients with large or loculated pericardial effusions, pericardial drainage may be performed as well. This form of treatment is rare and is only necessary if function of the heart needs to be restored.
Lifestyle habits, too, have been shown to improve lupus pericarditis. A combination of healthy eating and physical activity can help reduce the recurrence of symptoms.
In order to minimize the risk of complications, speak to your doctor about treatment options and consider alternative remedies, such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, chiropractic treatment and dietary supplements to help improve the outcome of lupus.