A Rare Case of Cardiac Tamponade Induced by Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tariq Yousuf, Jason Kramer, Adam Kopiec, Zachary Bulwa, Shuvani Sanyal, Jeffrey Ziffra


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease primarily involving the joint synovium. RA is a systemic disease which has many known extra-articular manifestations. We present a unique case of a patient with long standing RA who presented with a primary complaint of chest and back pain. Echocardiography revealed borderline normal left ventricular function and a large pericardial effusion with the finding of elevated intrapericardial pressure suspicious for cardiac tamponade. Infectious workup was all found to be negative. The presence and elevation of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, rheumatoid factor and C-reactive protein (CRP) confirmed the patient was having an active flare-up of RA. It was determined that this flare-up was the cause of the cardiac tamponade. A pericardiocentesis was performed and 850 mL of bloody fluid was drained. The patient remained stable following the pericardiocentesis. At his follow-up visit, repeat echocardiogram showed no signs for pericardial effusion. Although there has been extensive study of RA, there are only a few documented cases noting the occurrence of cardiac tamponade in these patients. Therefore, it is important for the clinician to be aware of and recognize this potentially serious cardiac outcome associated with a common rheumatologic condition.

J Clin Med Res. 2015;7(9):720-723
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.14740/jocmr2226w


Cardiac tamponade; Rheumatoid arthritis; Echocardiography; Pericardiocentesis; C-reactive protein

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