Pmr and heart problems: Hi, I’ve had pmr for... - PMRGCAuk

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Pmr and heart problems



I’ve had pmr for 18months now and have tapered down from 15 to 3 steroids daily.

I started getting breathless a few months ago and my doctor put it down to the side effects of steroids.

Then on a recent visit to South Africa I had sharp chest pains in the middle of my chest. I went to see a cardio consultant who got me in hospital the next morning for an angiogram, whilst doing this he had to fit four stents into the arteries going into my heart.

I was never made aware that pmr could cause problems with these arteries. Furthermore he said that in South Africa I would always have been given blood pressure tablets along with statins when on steroids.

I feel I was very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

Still struggling with the lower doses of pred but at least I’m still here to tell the tale.

23 Replies

I have atrial fibrillation - which started about the same time as the PMR symptoms and the cardiologist is confident it is due to the same autoimmune process that causes PMR.

But I have had all sorts of tests and there is no problem like yours. I live in Italy - and am not on statins and only on BP meds because of the a/f.

Your GP was wrong to dismiss the breathlessness out of hand - a few tests would probably have identified a problem. Breathlessness CAN be caused by pred - but you still need to check. Doctors SHOULD be monitoring BP, blood sugar and cholesterol - but I doubt most healthcare systems would automatically prescribe BP meds and statins without due cause. BP, BS and cholesterol don't rise in everyone. Lord only knows, given the automatic prescribing of other stuff, we'd be on 10 or a dozen different drugs if you combined those!!! And that brings its own problems.

Do hope it all goes well now you have the stents. Not quite what one wants on holiday though, however good the system is!

poly-susie in reply to PMRpro


Thanks for your reply. That was my first post on here.

I am feeling well now since the stents, it was such a shock, I had always put all symptoms down to either pmr or steroids.

Drs here have eight minutes for each patient, but often it’s less. Not much time for overall heath care.

I hope things go well for you.

stellafmdm in reply to PMRpro

Have they also put you on blood thinners threatening stroke if you don't? My GP says if I have AF then I must also be on thinners and I hate them. Makes me bleed copiously if cut and get bruises allover the place!

PMRproAmbassador in reply to stellafmdm

Absolutely - the most important medication in a/f. I was on a warfarin clone for some years until suddenly we couldn't get the INR stable. So now I'm on one of the new generation ones. Never had bruising with the sintrom but do have some gems with the Pradaxa, mostly on my legs so that doesn't matter. Bleeding isn't a problem though except when the phlebotomists forget. And I had a week of high dose NSAIDs by infusion recently - that led to some crackers!!!


stellafmdm in reply to PMRpro

Seems I'm in good company then! must not complain!!!

Hi, poly-susie,

First, I'm certainly glad that you got to the doctor and was able to be treated before a MAJOR event happened. Not saying that what you experienced wasn't major, but it could have been worse, right?

I don't have any answers for you other than than my Rheumatologist recently allowed me to stop statins. I was on Simvastatin. (I have GCA/PMR). I was already on blood pressure meds before I was diagnosed. (Still am on them.)

I'm sure the others will be along that will have more knowledge on your questions.

Also, I feel compelled to say OHHHHHHH!!! @ the picture that you posted. Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous! Did you take the picture? Where is it?

jinasc in reply to Insight329

One eminent Cardio Professor will not prescribe Simvastatin for any of his patients, read the paper that comes with the common side effects in the packet with your pills.

Insight329 in reply to jinasc

Yes. After joining this forum, I learned to question more. Imagine my shock when I learned a possible side effect of this drug was PMR. I stopped taking it and then had to confess that I’d stopped taking it to my doc. Totally surprised that his responses was ‘I’m fine with that.’


Thanks for your reply, the picture was taken in Plettenburg Bay, South Africa. An absolutely stunning place. 😁

Thank you. I could sit and look at that view for hours.

Gorgeous pic. Reminds me of a trip to SA a few years ago. Variable impressions, but my 'best' memory is of a place like this, near Cape Town, where I sat on a rock for ages, mesmerised and loving that there was nothing but sea between me and the antarctic.

Welcome to the forum.

Stunning photo.

Bit hard to know if it was the pred or other processes that caused the cardiac problem I guess. But PMR without pred may have caused worse problems????

Glad the stenting has been successful, and was done before a ‘major’ problem.

What a lovely picture. I love sunsets. I am glad for you that you found yourself in a wise doctor’s hands when this pain struck. It should be a warning to us all, symptoms can be dismissed too readily. I am on Atenolol for raised blood pressure but refused Statins ( would have been on them for years now). I do get breathless with a extra whistle in my breathing sometimes. You make me think I ought to go to the dreaded GP. I will be told to get off Pred because that’s the culprit though.

Oh and welcome to the site albeit with a bombshell. Keep us updated on your progress. Lucky lady.

Hi Jane,

I am lucky but it wasn’t the Pred that caused the problem it was PMR. It can attack the arteries going into your heart, can also change your heart rythem.

After all I guess the heart is a muscle.

Pred can sometimes give you higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol which adds to the problem.

I had slightly swollen ankles and breathlessness, I know now I should have asked the doctor for an ecg.

Just came on here really to highlight the problem, but it’s nice to hear from others people.

Thank you for your reply 😀

Many thanks for the info and the 'heads up'. Glad you are ok.

I have been on Pred. for nearly 3 years for PMR, starting on 20mgs and am now down to 4.5/ 5mgs. I started suffering from breathlessness last September and then developed chest pain. My GP referred me to cardiology and put me on a beta blocker and aspirin while waiting for a Cardiology Appt. which turned into a rapid chest pain clinic referral. I was seen at that clinic in February and referred for an angiogram -- which will hopefully be in late May or June. You were fortunate to be in South Africa which sounds to be sounds far more advanced.

Sorry I was going to add - perhaps in being aware of a potential problem from either Pred. or Pmr and speedy treatment. I worked for nearly 40 years in the NHS. which did a great job but is now so heavily overloaded and under financed.

Hi E150

It must be so worrying for you waiting so long, especially as you know what can happen.

At least your on a beta blocker and aspirin.

I wish you well and hope you get your appointment soon.

Since I have been back from SA I have not even as yet managed to get an appointment with my Doctor, waiting times are way over a month. I can honestly say I have never seen the same doctor twice in the last eighteen months.

All the best, keep in touch ......susie

El50 in reply to poly-susie

Thank you Susie -- I hope that you are feeling better,what a shock for it to happen to you while on holiday in a strange country-- but it looks now, waiting list wise, as if it could have been for the best. I would love to visit Capetown some day --hopefully when I dont' have PMR as a companion or should I say baggage!!! In the light of what happened to you - I would have thought that the GP's really should see you soon. Your email actually threw a bit more light on my problem - my C reactive protein was sky high when first diagnosed with PMR. At my Surgery, I have to queue outside the surgery door on the day I need an appt. from before 7-30am -as there is usually a long queue before it opens at 8am. -that way you can usually get to see the desired GP ---I have never yet managed to get through on the phone before all the appointments have been taken. BUT from talking to you this method doesn't seem so bad after all !!!

Very Best Wishes,


Hi poly susie,l hope that you are recovering well after the having the stents fitted.l have had problems with an irregular pulse accasionaly and have had several ecg,s but the missed beats never seem to happen during the ecg. I often wonder if the PMR was caused by statins,l could only take them for about a month because they caused cramp and pain in my legs and a very nasty rash. The cardiologist said l was allergic to statin. It was not long after that l developed PMR. I always hoped that l would never have to take steroids but had to take them for thePMR. I was very relieved though that the steroids had a miraculous effect on all the pain,l would be very disabled without them.l love the beautiful picture you have posted.

I have been walking the dogs 1 mile every day, and have done so for years. But looking back, at some point I started finding myself very much out of breath after the walk. The timing seems to align with the start of my PMR 16 months ago, and seems worse since starting Pred, 3 months ago. The doctor ordered up an EKG, chest x-ray (both which came out normal), and a stress test, which is scheduled a few weeks away. Until reading this thread, I thought the breathlessness was unrelated to PMR, but now I suspect it may be related.

I have been on Pred for nearly two years. As soon as I started taking it I became breathless. I have had 2 ECGs, a chest xray and a lung function test. Nothing physically wrong with me. The consensus of opinion was "it was the steroids". I have been down to 3.... currently on 6 because of exhaustion. Still breathless. Hope when I eventually get off it will disappear.

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