Atrial fibrillation?

Hi, I've been getting strange 'fluttering' feeling in my heart and an uncomfortable tightness of my chest, and the odd dizzy spell. As I've only been on Sulfasazaline for a couple of months i thought it might be that. I rang rheumy nurse who said she thought it was unlikely to be that but I should urgently see my gp ito get it checked out. Looking up symptoms on Internet (bad idea, I know!) I came across AF. Apparently it can be caused by RA. Just wondered if anyone had come across this? Thanks

27 Replies

  • Oh dear, Dr Google. You could just have a flutter because you are laying on the wrong side. Some people feel the flutter more than others.

    See your GP, but stay off Dr Google. It could be nothing.

  • I got af just after I got diagnosed. Quick trip to GP and some tests and on adizem tablets once a day and been controlled for four years!

    Best to get a check up xx

  • Thanks, that's good to know !

  • Interesting I was just about to post on a similar thing. I'm eight weeks into sulpalazine and too have been feeling like my heart is racing which is why I'm awake now. I've rung my helpline and waiting to hear back. Medicine information leaflet did mention fast heartbeat as uncommon side effect. Would you be able to update on your progress. I will do the same. Good luck. Mary

  • Please get it checked properly. I had that and pain in jaw/throat. Eventually they decided it wasn't tmj but the arthritis in my neck causing it. That was mid last year. I was taken to hospital on 23rd July due to severe chest pain, after suffering the above symptoms for over 2 years. They sent me for an angiogram which shows 2 main arteries are 70-80% blocked and another blocked centrally! Now waiting for angioplasty. The doctors are all too keen to allocate any symptoms to existing health problems.

  • Hi benijen, I have the sore throat/jaw and af too, did they connect the two things with your heart condition?

  • Apparently, symptoms of heart problems can present differently especially in women 'of a certain age' (i'm 62). My diagnosis is unstable angina. Pity they didn't check for that before it got this bad!! There is also a history of heart disease in both sides of my family. I'm not an unhealthy eater and have never smoked. I get a bit fed up of people telling me to eat healthily!

  • My parents both have heart disease and I'm 50.

    I've got to go to ENT specialist for my throat so I will ask him too!

  • Good luck. Hope it's something straightforward.

  • Thanks benijen, good luck with your surgery.

  • I had that and was told I had anxiety- which I didn't! I think mine was a hiatus hernia. I take an extra omeprazole now. I also think antinflammatories didn't help as when I stopped taking them I felt less chest pain. Certainly get things checked but try not to worry too much as I'm sure that will make you feel more anxious. I take sulfasalazine as well and they haven't exasperated my pains but I know from reading on here that some people don't get on with them.

    Take care 🙂

  • I've had the same symptoms and extensive tests this Summer which revealed some mitral valve thickening, nothing serious (yet) but the cardiologist advised me to cut out caffeine from my diet and would you believe it, no more symptoms! Plus far fewer headaches which I blamed on my fused neck. Maybe give that a go before adding another drug - with the blessing of your HP of course. Take care and hope you feel much better soon. It's uncomfortable and a bit scary isn't it?

  • I'd forgotten that I gave up caffeine too! I'm sure that helps. M&S make a good decaf tea: can't tell the difference ☺

  • I have AF diagnosed after mentioning to the nurse taking my blood that I often felt my heart racing. After she did an ECG I was referred to a cardiac specialist. Medication started and no problems since. I had had RA for about six years at the time. Now four years on I'm well controlled with medication. RA is a pain in many ways eh !

  • I was just thinking after reading this thread that we can sometimes assign new symptoms to the overpowering, all pervading RA, but sometimes they are a separate condition.

    Worth being aware of other conditions too.


  • Always get it checked out by gp and if you do read anything read valid medical articles but these can scare you even more and increase anxiety. What I've gathered so far is that yes medication can cause side effects yes gp/rheumy can help and yes ra is not a straight forward and uncomplicated disease which is why seeking medical advice is an unfortunate must. Think we're all hyper aware of our bodies now and the medications are scary at first. The nras website is full of useful information in easy to understand terms. This is where I go if I need to read and the professionals if I'm concerned.

  • Hi tracylux, I started getting symptoms of chest pain going into my jaw and the roof of my mouth, racing heartbeat and breathlessness about 5 year's ago. Like Benijen said gp,s rheumatologist and nurses all put it down to rheumatoid in my breast bone, everytime I've had any problems its always been put down to RA.

    Last September I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in my lungs, symptoms were exactly what I was experiencing. This is a rare condition and to be fair it is a result of RA but I feel It should have been picked up earlier but everyone insisted it was just a joint pain.

    I'm not saying for one minute that you have anything like this but I do think you need to get it checked because not everything is down to the aches and pains from rheumatoid. RA can effect any part of your body so we need to look after ourselves and not worry about visiting the doctor frequently ( I know I used to ) but the professionals need to look outside the box more and not just say oh thats down to RA, they still need to do tests because some illnesses may come about because we have RA but they are an illness in their own right. My rheumatologist can't treat my lungs I need a lung specialist for that.

    Hope you get to see your gp and all goes well.Linda x

  • Can I but in and ask how that was diagnosed lesley_Ann?

  • Hi Moomin, after repeatedly going to my doctors I saw a locum dr who knew a little about lung conditions. She first of all ruled out any heart problems by sending me for various tests. I was then refered to a lung consultant who gave me a lung function test which shows how well your lungs are working and sent me for a ct scan, its the ct scan that really gives the diagnosis. This showed that I have numerous rheumatoid nodules in both upper and lower lobes of both sides of my lungs and I had probably had this for a few years as I have scaring also in both sides, its the scaring that mainly causes the pain and difficulty in breathing.

    I was really shocked at the diagnosis as I didn't even know that RA could attack other area's of the body, but it can effect any of your muscles,organs or tissue. Yes its a very scary disease but as I said very rare. This is why I think there should be more information on what other conditions RA can lead to because I know I'm not the only person who needs to be aware of what I'm up against.

    This is why a lot of rheumatologist s would prefer RA to be renamed rheumatoid disease.

    Hope that helps but anything else you need to ask then ask away.

    Take care Linda xx

  • Thank you for sharing. Didn't you have x rays? I had one a year ago...

  • X rays won't show up pulmonary fibrosis Moomin. A ct scan looks more in depth than an x ray. Its like it can look through the layers of organs where x ray looks at the outer section. If in doubt all you can ask for a scan.

    Let me know how you are getting on x

  • Hi! I too suffered from AF when on Sulphalazine after other heart related conditions (pericarditis, pericardial effusion) I too was told by the Rheumy 'specialist' nurse it was probably nothing (that I couldn't breathe!!) and that I'd be seen at my usual appointment. I ended up in our local A&E 3 times getting the AF reversed. By the time that appointment came the Consultant had a look of horror on his face I was so ill. And immediately put me on Steroids and referred me to a Cardiologist and chest consultant. Anyway the long and the short of all this is I was taken off Sulphalazine (although nothing was admitted to it being this at the time) put on Steroids and the Cardiologist said the AF was probably due to the inflammation, as my other heart tests were fine, and that it wouldn't return whilst on high doses of steroids. I was put on Flecainide when needed and bit by bit the AF got less and less. It was only when I saw the recent letters sent to my GP from the consultant Rheumatologist that I see as a patients history it says the pericarditis was possibly due to Sulphalazine. Interesting!

    Hope you get sorted soon but please don't just take what the Rheumy nurses tell you as the only answer if the AF. Lasts more than half an hour it needs checking in A&E If it feels wrong get it checked out x

  • I've recently been diagnosed with the same problem and I've been put onto Beta Blockers, so it's worth getting it checked out by a cardiologist.

  • Interesting as my rheumatologist told me recently that sulfasalazine wouldn't affect the heart or lungs, and my symptoms were more likely to have been caused by Ibuprofen. I'm supposed to be being checked for drug induced asthma. My irregular heartbeat has improved since stopping Ibuprofen, but my chest still doesn't feel right. But then, I have sneaked in the odd Diclofenac because I had swelling in two of my finger joints.

    I feel the SSZ has increased my heartrate though, and this stops me from relaxing deeply.

    It is very hard to know what do when you don't know whether medications are alleviating symptoms or causing them.

  • Well, I had AF for about two year. I've just been diagnosed with RA and waiting to see doctor. You need to get GPS to check you out. Probably not your meds.

  • Update....I spoke to rhumy nurse who said try stopping sulpalazine and see gp in next few days....heart is getting back to normal and seeing gp on Monday.

  • Good , step forward x

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