Tuberculous pericarditis with and without HIV

Mpiko Ntsekhe, Bongani M Mayosi
Heart Failure Reviews 2013, 18 (3): 367-73
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has altered the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, treatment considerations and natural history of tuberculous (TB) pericarditis with significant implications for clinicians. The caseload of TB pericarditis has risen sharply in TB endemic areas of the world where co-infection with HIV is common. Furthermore, TB is the cause in greater than 85 % of cases of pericardial effusion in HIV-infected cohorts. In the absence of HIV, the morbidity of TB pericarditis is primarily related to the ferocity of the immune response to TB antigens within the pericardium. In patients with HIV, because TB pericarditis more often occurs as part of a disseminated process, the infection itself has a greater impact on the morbidity and mortality. HIV-associated TB pericarditis is a more aggressive disease with a greater degree of myocardial involvement. Patients have larger pericardial effusions with more frequent hemodynamic compromise and more significant ST segment changes in the electrocardiogram. HIV alters the natural history and outcomes of TB pericarditis. Immunocompromised participants appear less likely to develop constrictive pericarditis and have a significantly higher mortality compared with their immunocompetent counterparts. Finally co-infection with HIV has resulted in a number of areas of uncertainty. The mechanisms of myocardial dysfunction are unclear, new methods of improving the yield of TB culture and establishing a rapid bacterial diagnosis remain a major challenge, the optimal duration of anti-TB therapy has yet to be established, and the role of corticosteroids has yet to be resolved.

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