As mentioned in a previous post, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease , patients with RA have a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke and a shorter life expectancy as compared to the general population. Rheumatoid arthritis may cause the the outer lining of the heart to swell ( pericarditis ) and cause heart complications. Inflammation of the heart muscle, called myocarditis , can also develop. Both of these conditions can lead to congestive heart failure (weakening of the heart’s pumping ability) which is more common among people with rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Congestive Heart Failure (also known simply as Heart Failure)?
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shares key points related to heart failure :
* Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can't pump blood the way it should. In some cases, the heart can't fill with enough blood. In other cases, the heart can't send blood to the rest of the body with ...
Not really. In fact, heart failure is newly diagnosed in more than half a million Americans per year and may be somewhat different for men and women. Most of the time, a physician can make the diagnosis on the basis of symptoms given by the patient. On some occasions, however, it is more difficult to make this diagnosis if there are other problems such as lung disease (asthma, emphysema) present. First, the symptoms: • Fatigue • Shortness of breath on exertion • Diminished capacity to exercise • Heavy, swollen legs Second, the signs: • Abnormal heart sounds or heart rhythms • Abnormal lung sounds • Evidence for fluid in the ankles
Diagnosis Doctors can often make a preliminary diagnosis of heart failure by medical history and careful physical examination. A thorough medical history may identify risks for heart failure that include: High blood pressure Diabetes Abnormal cholesterol levels Heart disease or history of heart attack Thyroid problems Obesity Lifestyle factors (such as smoking, alcohol use, and drug use) The following physical signs, along with medical history, strongly suggest heart failure: Enlarged heart Abnormal heart sounds Abnormal sounds in the lungs Swelling or tenderness of the liver Fluid retention in legs and abdomen Elevation of pressure in the veins of the neck Laboratory Tests Both blood and urine tests are used to check for problems with the liver and kidneys and to detect signs of diabetes. Lab tests can measure: Complete blood counts to check for anemia Kidney function blood and urine tests Sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes Cholesterol and lipid levels Blood sugar (glucose) Thyroid function Brain natr...
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