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How is heart disease related to rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Rheumatoid arthritis generally does not cause heart disease. It is often confused with Rheumatic Fever or chronic Rheumatic Heart Disease. The former is an autoimmune disease which causes primarily painful and disfiguring joint destruction. The latter is heart disease caused by the early or late manifestations of a Streptococcal infection. Rheumatoid arthritis may occasionally cause problems in other organ systems. From a cardiac standpoint, there may occasionally be mild or moderate inflammation of the pericardium (the membranous sac surrounding the heart), called pericarditis. Pericarditis can cause chest pain, usually easily treated with medications. Rarely pericarditis can cause an effusion, or fluid buildup, within the pericardium that can require drainage.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.