Department of Rheumatology, Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine, Ospedale Niguarda, Milan, Italy
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To assess the efficacy of a multidrug protocol in recurrent acute pericarditis. We tried also to assess the specific role of colchicine.
We studied 58 patients (34 males) in the largest monocentric observational study. All patients received prolonged courses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; generally we do not start a corticosteroid in recurrent acute pericarditis, but if a steroid had already been started, we planned a very slow tapering; if necessary azathioprine, hydroxychloroquine, and other immunosuppressive drugs were used; 44 patients (27 males, 61.4%) were treated also with colchicine and 14 patients (7 males, 50%) were not given this drug.
After starting our protocol recurrences dropped from 0.48 to 0.03 attacks/patient/month (p < 0.00001) within 12 months and remained at the same level till the end of the follow-up (mean 8.1 years) in the whole cohort. In the 44 patients treated with colchicine recurrences dropped from 0.54 to 0.03 attacks/patient/month (p < 0.00001) within 12 months, and in 14 patients not given colchicine recurrences decreased from 0.31 to 0.06 attacks/patient/month (p = 0.002). In patients treated with colchicine the decrease was significantly higher (0.51) than in patients not taking this drug (0.25) (p = 0.006). Colchicine was discontinued by 16.3% of patients because of side effects.
A multidrug protocol including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at high dosage, slow tapering of corticosteroid, colchicine, reassurance and close clinical monitoring is very effective in recurrent pericarditis; this improvement is more dramatic in colchicine treated patients, but also patients who do not tolerate it can achieve good control of the disease.
PMID: 16539818 [PubMed]