Yasmin Vossofian wanted to believe the doctors when they told her that the pain in her chest was just acid reflux. Unfortunately, she says, her body was “certain not to believe” the misdiagnosis.
Speaking upon her return to MSNBC, the news anchor detailed how on December 20 she began to feel chest pains, which became “less and less” over the next 10 days. On December 30, she went to urgent care and was told she had reflux. “I didn’t really buy it but I’m relieved it wasn’t my heart,” she said. “My body was sure not to believe the reflux though. The next day I woke up with severe pain in my chest and left shoulder, it felt like a tightness in my chest when I took deep breaths and it got worse when I was lying down Got even worse.
Reminding viewers that she previously ran seven miles four times a week, and didn’t eat meat or smoke, Vossofian said at that moment she feared she was having a heart attack. In the emergency room she was diagnosed with pericarditis — inflammation of the lining of the heart — caused by a virus or, in her case, a common cold.
“I had fluid around my heart that had to be drained otherwise it could disrupt my heartbeat,” she said. “I was hospitalized for four nights. [On Jan. 7,] I was read when I felt a flutter in my heart, like a butterfly inside my chest. They determined that I had developed myocarditis – inflammation of the actual heart now – the heart muscle.
“I remember being herded into the emergency room by cowboys and I was thinking: ‘Is this it?’ It didn’t, thank god, instead I spent five more days in the hospital where they ran a battery of tests, adjusted my meds and made sure there was nothing more to what was going on. In the end it was still cold doing all this.
Speaking to Insider, the 44-year-old journalist said she wished she had “listened to her gut” instead of accepting a “disappointing” misdiagnosis: “Especially as women so many times, we go with our gut.” Don’t trust, we don’t trust our instincts because we are happy, society tells us to be happy.
While adding that it can be tempting to jump back in at the deep end in high-pressure jobs like journalism, he cautioned, “You don’t have to let all those insecure feelings hold you back.”
What are the symptoms of pericarditis?
According to the American Heart Association, this disease can be caused by viral, bacterial, fungal or other types of infections. Heart surgery and heart attack can also prompt the condition, as well as pre-existing medical issues, injuries and medications.
Pericarditis can be acute or chronic. Acute means that it occurs suddenly and does not last for a long time, chronic means that it develops over time and thus may take longer to treat. In extreme cases the disease can cause abnormal heart rhythms and death. The most common symptom of pericarditis is chest pain. This is because the pericardium – a two-layered sac-like structure that holds the heart in place – can become inflamed and rub against the heart.
The Cleveland Clinic outlines further symptoms of the disease, which include sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when coughing, swallowing, lying down or taking a deep breath. Another symptom is the feeling that the discomfort subsides on sitting and leaning forward. Further symptoms include pain in the patient’s back, neck or left shoulder, dry cough, palpitations (irregular heartbeat), anxiety, fever, fatigue and, in severe cases, swelling of the ankles, feet and legs.
In Vossofian’s case, he had both pericarditis and myocarditis. The two differ because they are related to different points of inflammation in or around the heart. The latter can also be identified when a patient suffers from pericarditis, they feel better when sitting and moving, people with myocarditis feel more tired and weak.
Dr. Greg Katz was Vossofian’s cardiologist while she was being treated at NYU Langone Hospital, and said that “strangely” he had seen more of these cases post-COVID. Speaking on Vossoffian’s MSNBC show, he explained, “Nobody knows exactly why this is and whether it’s a standard blip or whether my anecdotal experience is a little skewed. It could be that this season has a little more virus than usual.” -Huge, maybe our immune system is a little different than before because we’ve been doing masking and social distancing for a few years now.
As well as outlining the main symptoms of illness, Katz tells people to listen to their bodies: “The feeling is ‘something is wrong with my body’. Fever, chills, non-specific symptoms Kind of. The feeling that something is wrong is the time when you should be thinking: ‘I should get this checked out.’… [W]Everyone’s had a cold and we’ve all recovered from it and sometimes if this recovery is a little different it’s not a bad idea to make sure you’re getting tested.
What is the treatment for pericarditis?
The Mayo Clinic states that pericarditis can be treated in several ways. Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers may be advised such as Advil or Motrin IB. A medicine called colchicine may also be used as it works to reduce inflammation but can interfere with other medicines. For those suffering from symptoms for a long time, corticosteroids may be prescribed which are stronger drugs also used to fight inflammation.
If, like Vossaughian’s, the condition results from an infection then drainage may be needed, or antibiotics may be needed to fight the underlying problem. The drainage technique is called pericardiocentesis and is performed using a sterile syringe or small catheter. In extreme cases requiring the removal of the entire pericardium in a procedure called pericardiectomy, it is often advisable to allow the sac to harden completely.
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