Glossary of Terms
Acute pericarditis: Inflammation of the pericardium that usually causes chest pain and comes on rapidly. It is often accompanied by other symptoms. According to the ACC (American College of Cardiology), pericarditis accounts for about 5% of all emergency room visits for chest pain.
Biologic: In the context of pericarditis, we are referring to “biopharmaceuticals” when we refer to biologics. These are made from or contain molecular components of living organisms or modifications of such molecules. They are currently used for many diseases and conditions. Anakinra (brand name Kineret) is a biologic which has been used for the “off-label” treatment of pericarditis.
On March 18, 2021, rilonacept (brand name Arcalyst) became the first FDA approved treatment for recurrent pericarditis. See more details: https://www.arcalyst.com/
Cardiac tamponade: Impaired function of the heart due to a pericardial effusion. This is a life-threatening medical condition.
Centers of Excellence: Centers of Excellence are comprehensive teams of healthcare professionals with dedicated facilities who provide leadership, best practices, research, training and support for specific conditions and/or diseases. Typically, these are located at large medical centers. There are a number of cardiologists who are highly knowledgeable about the most current diagnostic modalities and treatments for pericarditis (see authors of the articles cited on our website), but only a small number of Centers of Excellence, for example at Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic.
Chronic or complicated pericarditis: When pericarditis lasts longer than a few months and/or causes complications such as cardiac tamponade, it is considered chronic or complicated.
Constrictive pericarditis: Constrictive pericarditis is a complication of pericarditis that occurs when the layers of the pericardium thicken or stiffen, sometimes due to scar tissue or calcification. This can result in impairment of the heart’s ability to function normally.
Corticosteroids: A class of “stress” hormones produced by the adrenal gland, or their synthetic equivalents. These hormones have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are often used to treat pericarditis, especially when it is chronic or complicated. Prednisone is the most commonly used corticosteroid in the treatment of pericarditis.
CRP: C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a marker of inflammation that is produced by the liver and can be measured in the blood. A high value is often present in patients with cardiovascular disease, especially pericarditis.
Idiopathic pericarditis: Pericarditis whose cause is not known.
Interleukin-1 (IL-1) inhibitors: IL-1 is a class of cytokine, molecules produced by the immune system that mediate inflammatory responses. Impaired regulation of IL-1 is thought to be involved in causing recurrent pericarditis. IL-1 inhibitors are a new class of drugs that have been used to successfully treat recurrent pericarditis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3644509/).
Nonischemic chest pain: Chest pain that is not caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle resulting from blockages in the coronary arteries. The pain caused by pericarditis is an example of non-ischemic chest pain.