Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1. Head over to this page:

    2. Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3. Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at

    Heart Attack Risk Quickly Follows RA Diagnosis
    Byroney_WebMD_Staff posted:
    Hello RAers,

    I found a news item about RA and heart risks I thought you'd be interested in. "Heart attack risk significantly increases one year after rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis, new research suggests.

    "The new study, which appears in the December issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, is not the first to link RA and heart disease, but it does show that an increased risk of heart attack begins one year after RA diagnosis."

    Has your rheumatologist or doctor talked with you about heart risks? Have you had any heart-related problems since your RA diagnosis?

    DIYSTER responded:
    Interesting. I suspect the heart attack risk goes up by combining the RA effects along with side-effects of Rx's prescribed to treat the RA, especially Prednisone.
    ciratb responded:
    Is there any coralation between the biologic drug class for RA and heart disease?
    chriswalker55 responded:

    Interesting article Byroney. My doctor hasn't discussed heart risks nor have I had any heart related problems since my diagnosis 5 years ago.

    mecranford responded:
    Yes, I have had RA for 25 years. I was diagnoised with
    A-Fib nine years ago, was given medication to treat it, and was hospitalized in 2007 with a very irregular heartbeat. While I was on the heart monitor, my heart actually stopped completely for four seconds. My doctor recommended a pacemaker which I received a month later. I also take medication to help regulate my heart and blood pressure.

    Also, in 1999, I suffered a brain hemorrhage, which could have been fatal, but through the grace of God I was saved and made a complete recovery. Two years later, I had a mild stroke, which affected my right side for a short time. Through PT and OT I regained the strength and made a complete recovery from that also. During the time I had those problems and for a few years after, I was having problems with bouts of high blood presure which I took medication for. I think that some of the RA medications I have taken over the years may also have been a contributing factor in all of these serious health issues. I know that RA increases the risk of numerous health problems, but the medications used to treat it can also be a contributing factor. I have been on so many different medications over the years, that I have lost count and was taking Vioxx when I had the stroke. It was later removed from the market because of the stroke and heart risks it posed.
    RA patients are already at greater risk of serious health problems, because of the systemic nature of RA But those risks are increased even more by some of the medications used to treat the disease, so it puts us in a "catch 22" situation and a constant balancing act to try and control the RA without suffering serious side affects from the medications.
    JanRichards responded:
    I was diagnosed with RA 6yrs ago and in June of 2010 after being treated for a severe infection in my jaw after surgery I started having chest pain. The first thing my doctor instructed my husband to do was to call an ambulance. I was taken to the ER and they began doing test on me to see if I was having a heart attack.

    They did EKG, X-rays, CAT scan with contrast, and finally I went through a stress test. My doctor was concerned that I may of had an inflammation of the lining of my heart. After all was said and done I came out of it OK with all the test being negative. It was a very scarey thing to go through, but I am glad that my Rheumatologist was on top of things and made sure that all the tests that needed to be done were done. I was lucky this time and I won't take chest pain likely especially with all I've read about having heart problems with RA.
    a1poll3o responded:
    I was diagnosed two years ago and my Dr. wants me to have a chest and lung xray every 2 years while I am appearing healthy. Yes she did tell me about this. I have not had any heart related problems but again only diagnosed with RA and Sjogrens two years ago although we suspect it "kicked" in in 2003 when I had one stress after another happen. Currently all blood work is now not even showing me with an RA factor or Speckled ANA (sjogrens indicater) so we are on Maintenance, blood work every 6 months just prior to dr. visit. So I am lucky it was caught very early. I just try to stay healthy through diet, exerzise and SLEEP.
    pegf55 responded:
    As of late have been having increased palpitations. Was diagnosed with RA year and a half ago. Have had alot of external family stressors which have led to increased anxiety. Unsure if the palpitations are from stress or RA. I see my Rheumatologist next week and plan on mentioning all this to him then.
    zuliza1 responded:
    Hi byroney

    I was diagnosed with ra almost a year ago, im 21 & would like to know if these heart related issues could effect me?. my docter has'nt mentioned anything to me about it.
    Ammaof3 responded:
    I have been living with RA for 20 years, my daughter with RA, Lupus and Scleroderma for 25 years ( diagnosed at age 11). She has many health issues especially with heart, lungs, and kidneys.
    Both my parents were diagnosed with RA and my father had open heart surgery at 49 yrs old and died 6 yrs later. My mother had open heart surgery at 61 continues to deal with the daily challenges of RA. My father did not take anything more than over the counter meds for his RA. My mother has taken prednisone, plaquinel and vicodin and has not been on methotrexate because of other medical issues.
    However, 2 years ago, when sharing my concern regarding heart problems, my doctor gave me a copy of an article from a Medical Newsletter that explained how Methotrexate actually aided in preventing heart problems and heart attacks. I am on 1 baby aspirin daily because I also take celebrex. . I too experience the palpitations but realize that at the time I experience this I am feeling extremely overwhelmed and anxious from pain and/or fatigue. I do my deep breathing routine until I feel better and then take my anxiety medication. This has worked thus far. My blood test results are good and I had CT, and a cardiogram recently and was told I had a good heart with a wink and a smile. In my immediate family four of us have had very different experiences and I believe this is quite characteristic of any disease. You get to KNOW your body and how it works or doesn't...You be honest with your doctors and develop a good relationship with them. You eat and drink healthy and exercise. Find support ... Not much more to do than that.
    lcover responded:
    I just started looking into the heart risks related to RA. My father had dilated cardiomyopathy and had a heart transplant. He lived for eight years after that. Today I read on the Virginia Cardiovascular Specialists website that autoimmune diseases like lupus and RA can be a risk factor. I plan on talking to my rheumatologist about it in May. Will be curious to see what he says.
    anowlin responded:
    Years ago I was taking plaquenil and I thought it was to decrease the joint aches from my lupus. It didn't 'do' anything, so I stopped.

    Then I started seeing another rheumie (we moved) and she asked if I was taking Plaquenil. "No" and I gave her the reason. Her counter was that I should because of it's 'cardio-protective effects.' So back on I went. I've had no side effects.

    I hear there are rare, but documented eye effects, but every visual field study is normal. If it's prescribed, please do take it.

    lcover responded:

    That was a very interesting article. Do you have any recommendations on obtaining more information on RA and heart complications?

    I have also read some articles about TNF blockers and whether or not they can increase the risk of heart failure in RA. Unfortunately for me, the information was somewhat hard to decipher.
    dianeh1223 replied to mecranford's response:
    I know this is an old post, but if you are still reading your email , I have a question-
    My mom is 80 and is very frail from living for 40 years with RA.

    She was diagnosed with a-fib about 1.5 years ago - and her heart stopped beating this week, for 6 seconds.

    The dr. wants her to get a pacemaker right away.

    She does not have anyone who can tell her, how you will feel after having this done.
    Did you feel much better after the pacemaker? She is very unsteady on her feet - will it help with that?
    lilbit1827 replied to dianeh1223's response:
    My mom is 88 she had her pace maker for 8 yrs now she has been doing wonderful it takes time to mend give her time and do the exercises she was given she will do fine after she heals it does take time my mom is now back to work and has worked for a few yrs now again. I will keep her in my prayers. God Bless you & your mom.

    Helpful Tips

    prednisolone may be more effective than prednisone in some patientsExpert
    Rarely I will find a patient who is not getting the response I would expect with prednisone. In those patients, I will sometimes prescribe ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    36 of 40 found this helpful

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.