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RA affecting the heart

I’ve been diagnosed with RA for 6yrs now . While it at first slowly progressed , it suddenly progressed fast. Even my RA doc shocked how it progressed.

Heart issues with RA

Not only most days I can’t even make a fist, it has affected my liver , kidneys, lungs (pleurisy horrible pain) and now it just now affecting my heart. I ended up at the ER with my blood pressure 200/110. I was admitted. Course they accused me of doing drugs like usual. But once I took a drug test for them . They was then trying to find the problem. Course the only thing they think was the RA inflame my chest and heart .. I am scheduled to go to a cardiologist but that’s in July! I have never had high BP unless I’m in very bad pain. I’m wanting to know if anyone else has this problems

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  • priyanka.singh
    2 months ago

    I don’t know about high bp. But I feel weakness in my heart. Like it’s heavy. And it feels minor flick whenever any sudden noice happen around me. Even my phone vibration.

  • crna@ummc
    4 months ago

    Hi Lilbit2, yes RA, like many other of the autoimmune diseases can cause heart disease. I was first diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) in my 30s, so I understand your concerns. A year later I developed pericarditis, which is inflammation of the pericardium or the lining around the heart. This results in fluid accumulation in the space between the lining and the heart itself. If severe enough, this fluid build up acts to strangle the heart and decrease its’ ability to pump blood to the body. Common symptoms are chest pain, especially with deep breathing and/or laying down, also shortness of breath. My pericarditis was blamed on the medications used to treat my high blood pressure. After three episodes of pericarditis in ten years, a bright young ER resident put it all together and and decided I most likely had an autoimmune disease. Three hours later, rheumatology made the diagnosis of SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) or RA based on symptoms and history (10+years pain of multiple joints, morning stiffness and a facial butterfly rash). You can think of SLE and RA as fraternal twins, very similar and difficult to differentiate.
    Sorry I was a bit long winded on my story, but I wanted to give an illustration of how an autoimmune disease can affect the heart. I want all of us with an autoimmune disease to know how serious heart disease is. It is the number one killer of men AND women, 10 times more likely than any form of cancer. For patients with RA, the risk of heart disease is 2-3 times higher than the general population. So take it seriously. One more thing, your elevated blood pressure is most likely not due to RA, but rather some other cause (genetics, other diseases, etc.) and the cardiologist will do a thorough work up to determine the cause and best treatment for you. Also, I assume the ER put you and some medication for your blood pressure. If not, check with your family practice physician ASAP, don’t wait to see cardiology. If you are on meds, be sure to check your BP at least daily and record it so the cardiologist can see how your doing. Good luck and let us all know how you’re doing!

  • ruthmg
    4 months ago

    I have also found the RA heart issue confusing. All the RA literature states that RA can cause heart disease. It does not specify what type. Yet when reading cardiology literature RA is not listed as a potential cause of heart disease. I have high blood pressure. My rheumatologist doesn’t want to talk about heart, my cardiologist doesn’t want to talk about RA.

  • Larry Sawyer
    5 months ago

    Lilbit2. I have soft tissue RA, I have had it for 38 years and am now 76. It scares the hell out of me from time to time but I am still alive. and that is both a message and hope . be well

  • Richard Faust moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi Lilbit2. Sorry you have been having these cardiovascular issues. Unfortunately, there are cardiovascular disease risks connected to RA and this article from our editorial team goes into more detail: In addition, you may want to look at this article from our contributor Andrew on the topic: Concerning the time until your cardiology appointment, your concerns are understandable. If you haven’t already, you may want to contact your GP and rheumatologist about this issue. They may be able to help with a plan until your appointment, coordinate care, and identify potential causes not identified or considered by the ER. Wishing you the best and please feel free to keep us posted on how you are doing or ask additional questions. Richard ( Team)

  • 2mra
    5 months ago

    I haven’t had Pleurisy, liver or kidney problems YET. I do however have breathing problems when I’m walking too far or doing too much work at home, etc.

    I did go to the Pulmonologist and Cardiologist and the first one found that I have minor P. Fibrosis, so far. I, however, have had severe RA for 36 years, since I was age 24.

  • David Advent moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi Lilbit2, I am so sorry to hear about the progression of your RA! It’s terrifying to think that so many things beyond joints can be affected by this disease. I know that this is a scary time for you, but please know that this community is here to support you throughout your RA journey. Thank you for being a member of this community!

    -David ( Team Member)

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