Internal organs and RA?

Hi again,

After reading that lungs and rarely heart may be affected by RA I wonder how common this is? does anyone suffer here from it? how does it get treated? and is does it normally happen with severe RA? how quick can it develop? and what are the warning signs?


Can severe RA respond just as well to medications as moderate RA? I asssume it would be more difficult to control....

Thanks :)

15 Replies

Hi Wiliby, I have severe ra or chronic whichever one, I try not to think about it affecting my internal organs although one day it possibly could. The reasons being for me would be the fact that I was diagnosed very late allowing the RA to continue and get a hold of my body and do the chronic damage it as already done. To me this is when it affects the organs, when the RA as been very difficult to control over the years even with the most recent of drugs. Today though it can be quite different as lessons have been learned from this and more drugs have become available, stopping the ra in it's tracks is the key.

However we are all different and so can't say what the future will hold for any of where RA is concerned we need to keep a close eye on our bodies and report any significant changes to our consultant where he will be able to investigate further.

Severe RA is more difficult to control as i know myself and have exhausted many drugs over the years, spent many times in hospital and had numerous operations.

Mandy xx


Thanks Mandy,

I ask for many reasons but appreciate your experience. I've been diagnosed very early but as none of the meds are working and after my RF result was 2010; I may be wrong in assuming that I've got an aggressive form.

Consultant tomorrow and hopefully a biologic next :) x


You know I asked my consultant this question when I was diagnosed. I was so ill and so scared I asked him if I would be ok, that I wouldn't go home and have a heart attack or something as I was so sure my end had come. It seems silly to worry like that now but at the time it seemed a very real scenario/risk of the RA. I'm not entirely sure how it RA manifests itself on your insides but I'm sure the others will be able to answer that bit for you! Just wanted to let you know you're not alone in wanting to know about this side of RA ;) xx


Thanks Jo, I have my consultant appointment tomorrow and did feel a bit melodramtaic asking him!

It's a horrid question and only now managed to actually get it out, kept putting it off, I think I've coming to terms with RA and ready to cope with this, so far I feel more positive now, I just assumed the worst!

:) x


Hi Beeper here, I'm no doctor or expert. Have had RA for 14 years myself and feel it is a double edged sword if you read to much to see what's happening or don't read anything. You can put your mind at rest or worry. If you read all the side effects n the pills we all take they would never be taken. Some time it's best not to know. I take whatever is thrown at me if it misses, great, if it sticks what the heck. I know we are not all the same. But we have been dealt a card, we must play the hand and make the most of life. Sorry to feel if I don't care I do for all with RA and those who have to put up with us who have it. As long as I try and keep active and eat health and smile what more can we do.

Hope this helps.


I agree about side effects and pills, I've decided not to read these anymore but bother everyone on this site instead if somethings not right!

I ask this question, as after loosing my mum due to both lung and heart problems I want to make sure I do whatever I can (If I can) to make sure I see my own children grow up(and grandchildren!)

I think I just want to have as much knowledge of this as possible so if I do encounter any problems (whether inherited or RA) I could deal with it best I can; still getting my head round it all being newly diagnosed

Thanks Beeper ;)


very good beeper.. good attitude.. some times my knowledge puts me at a disadvantage!! xx


Hi Wiliby,

There are some good guides on the forum and if you check on here go to tags for heart you will find some information. I'm on a trial seeing if taking a statin to control cholesterol can help problems in RA, its called Trace RA and they have a web site. Try not to worry though as that never helps either. Take care



thanks Tricia, will check it out, sorry this is short, we have a smelly nappy! x


ps, have a baby by the way!!! not me :)


thats funny Wiliby!


I was also put on a cholesterol lowering med, when diagnosed, my chole was 5.1, but the LDL (bad stuff) was 3 of that! the consultant said the statin would protect me as i got older! Apparently RA does significantly increase your risk of heart disease! I have a family history of heart disease (my mum has heart issues, but she still here at 83). as if we did'nt have enough problems!

xxx Gina.


By the way I have always eaten low fat etc etc. With the statin my ldl is 2 now and overall read is 4.3.

so those pills work anyway!


Hi Wiliby, I believe the reason for attacking the organs is to do with the inflammation, the untreated or even treated to a certain extent inflammation leads to organ damage.

This then takes us back to the connected question of severe RA, this being untreated inflammation markers that causes the damage!

Mandy xx

PS, Lyn will be able to give you a more detailed explanation.


I've developed a lung problem (18 m ago) as part of my RA. The systemic effects of an auto-immune disease are what causes heart and lung problems - raised levels of inflammation throughout the body. It can also affect you eyes.

As Lyn always says, the more recently you've been diagnosed the less likely you are to have these kinds of complications as the inflammatory element of RA is being brought under control faster with a much wider range of drugs. Your RA being well-controlled is what's important here - whether by DMARDs or Anti-tnfs. I've been diagnosed for around 14 years now but my rheumy agrees that I've probably had it since my 20's but being on steroids for kidney disease has masked the problem.

I've been on statins for about 18 years as my cholesterol levels were high [12] and there is a genetic factor for this. I'm vegetarian and apparently it's difficult to eat enough animal fats as a veggie to significantly raise your cholesterol levels. Part of the ARMOR Gold Standards for treatment of RA are the requirement to check cardio-vascular risk factors and a cholesterol level check annually. My level is now at 4 - if you've not had it done ask for a fasting cholesterol check at your gp surgery - the British Heart Foundation have a good booklet explaining RA and Heart Disease and I'm sure that there's info on the NRAS site too:-)

If you smoke then you need to stop as this is an additional risk factor - see today's blog!

Cece x


You may also like...