Background: Colchicine is effective for the treatment of recurrent pericarditis. However, conclusive data are lacking regarding the use of colchicine during a first attack of acute pericarditis and in the prevention of recurrent symptoms.
Methods: In a multicenter, double-blind trial, eligible adults with acute pericarditis were randomly assigned to receive either colchicine (at a dose of 0.5 mg twice daily for 3 months for patients weighing >70 kg or 0.5 mg once daily for patients weighing ≤70 kg) or placebo in addition to conventional antiinflammatory therapy with aspirin or ibuprofen. The primary study outcome was incessant or recurrent pericarditis.
Results: A total of 240 patients were enrolled, and 120 were randomly assigned to each of the two study groups. The primary outcome occurred in 20 patients (16.7%) in the colchicine group and 45 patients (37.5%) in the placebo group (relative risk reduction in the colchicine group, 0.56; 95% confidence interval, 0.30 to 0.72; number needed to treat, 4; P<0.001). Colchicine reduced the rate of symptom persistence at 72 hours (19.2% vs. 40.0%, P=0.001), the number of recurrences per patient (0.21 vs. 0.52, P=0.001), and the hospitalization rate (5.0% vs. 14.2%, P=0.02). Colchicine also improved the remission rate at 1 week (85.0% vs. 58.3%, P<0.001). Overall adverse effects and rates of study-drug discontinuation were similar in the two study groups. No serious adverse events were observed.
Conclusions: In patients with acute pericarditis, colchicine, when added to conventional antiinflammatory therapy, significantly reduced the rate of incessant or recurrent pericarditis. (Funded by former Azienda Sanitaria Locale 3 of Turin [now Azienda Sanitaria Locale 2] and Acarpia; ICAP ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00128453.).