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Pulmonary Hypertension

Rheumatoid arthritis and lung problems

09/26/2008

Question:

I have sevre RA and it has affected my lungs. I have developed pulmanary hypertension and pluresy from my RA. I don`t know a lot about how RA affects the lungs. When my RA flares does that mean that my lung would flare too? Will I get short of breath and find it hard to breath when I flare?

Answer:

Rheumatoid arthritis does not usually cause pulmonary hypertension without other problems being present. Typically patients with RA will develop pulmonary fibrosis (scarring) and this can lead to pulmonary hypertension but PH as an isolated finding in RA is unusual. There are many other ways that RA can affect the lungs (fibrosis, pleurisy, etc.) and sometimes these lung diseases will flare when the joint disease flares. However, given the rare nature of PH in rheumatoid arthritis we don't have any data to tell us whether or not the PH will flare at the same time as the joint symptoms.

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Response by:

Douglas W Haden, MD Douglas W Haden, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University