RA and palpitations

Does anyone get palpitations with their RA? I've always been prone to palpitations which were checked out about 6 years ago and weren't serious.

Since my diagnosis though I feel I've been getting uncomfortable bouts of a racing pulse and palpitations. One evening they started and went on for 8 hours with my pulse super fast and long runs of palps I couldn't stop. I felt funny but not dizzy and no chest pain. I saw the doctor and had an ECG. This was normal. I've been told to keep a watch. I don't know if they've got worse or it's just that since my diagnosis everyone has been telling me I'm at double the risk of a heart attack. I was already cardiac phobic as I have a family history of heart problems and strokes. I do feel constantly stressed now worrying about the illness which isn't responding to treatment, my employer who is being a nightmare and just the constant worry of feeling unwell. My doc thinks all this may be contributing to the palps but they seem to come out of nowhere

12 Replies

  • What medication are you on? I ask because I had this problem with sulfasalazine. My heart literally felt like it was going to fly out of my chest cavity! Had fast pulse and tremor too.

    Could well be a reaction to meds.

  • Just the methotrexate at the moment as I reacted to the sulfasalazine. But this happened when I was waiting for treatment too, though they had given me amiltryptaline

  • Thyroid??

  • It does sound like stress, it's amazing how it can cause such physical problems. Have you had your thyroid checked though, might be worth another visit to the GP. All the best.x

  • Yes thyroid checked. No problems there

  • I get this too but I have thyroid disease and Sjogrens with dysautonomia which can cause heart beat to race. Like you mine have been checked out lots of times and all they find is ectopic beats. My parents both died prematurely of cardiac arrest so I did used to find it very worrying but have given up fretting now as nothing has happened beyond the unpleasantness of it. I find it happens most after eating or drinking so I think mine is autonomic in origin.

    Do you smoke and have you got longstanding and erosive RA? If yes then you should have a full cardiovascular screen once a year I believe. Otherwise I was told by two rheumatologists that the risk isn't that much higher than for the general population.

    There is a circularity about worrying about having RA or a CTD and palpitations - and it's hard to know which comes first I find. But as I have been checked out thoroughly a few times now I think anxiety and stress are more likely give me cardiac arrest than ectopic beats or my connective tissue disease. So I'm learning to take a Zen approach.

  • Pains in the chest are or can be because of other ills BUT like all chest pains we MUST get them checked, I've been sufferer in chest pains for yrs and yrs, it turned out that I have Costochonderitis, and I have fibromyalgia which can do the same. Once you find out about an illness your unable to stand against it and if you learn about your illness the better control you have over it.

    Good luck


  • Please don't panic but please do get checked out.

    You are correct that you have an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes but this risk is due to uncontrolled inflammation. Therefore, if you are on medication and being treated to get the disease under control, this should reduce the risk. This is what NRAS says about it; nras.org.uk/cardiovascular-...

    Your GP surgery should screen you every year but I know not all do. Having a diagnosis of RA is one of the questions on the cardiovascular and yes, it does increase your risk but it is really isn't as scary as it sounds especially if your risk is minuscule to begin with. That said, it depends on your age and health.

    There are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk further; ensure your BMI is healthy, ensure you exercise as much as possible, keep your cholesterol low and manage your stress levels as much as possible.

    Take care.

  • I had heart palpitations and extreme high blood pressure that sent me to the ER a few times the first year after being diagnosed with RA. The doctors ran test after test on me. My blood pressure reached 220/125...scary....it turned out to be panic attacks brought on my extreme stress.

    Once I "got it" through my "thick skull" that I needed to make a choice. I either had to calm down and relax or drop dead of a heart attack. It was hard, but I forced myself to "put one foot infront of the other" and accept the scary RA diagnose. We do not know how are future will be. We just have to live, love and laugh...not worry about being disabled. I am thankful that there are meds to control this disease. We just need to find the right "cocktail" and we will be fine.

    I wish you peace,


  • I developed a pounding heartbeat which just seemed much stronger than usual when I initially started treatment with Methotrexate and steroids. Could feel it pounding at every pulse point and it was loud in my ears. Some nights I couldn't get to sleep because of it. It reduced in frequency, intensity and duration as my Steroid dose reduced. Been off steroids now for a few months, and only occasionally feel it for a minute or two at a time. I assumed it was Steroid related.

  • Hi, I too developed palpitations around the time of my diagnosis of RA. My heart rate went up to 160 bpm lasting for over 6 hours at a a time. several times I was taken to A&E. Eventually I have been diagnosed as having Atrial Fibrillation, which can cause a stroke and therefore requires anticoagulant medication. I would request further tests if I were you. I don't know if there is any connection between RA and Atrial Fibrillation or whether it's a coincidence.

  • Hi Linda yes there is a strong link between RA and AF. Apparently my rhythm is normal

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