How is rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pericarditis diagnosed?

Updated: Apr 02, 2019
  • Author: Sean Spangler, MD; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pericarditis is suggested by serous or hemorrhagic pericardial fluid with a glucose level of less than 45 mg/dL, a white blood cell (WBC) count higher than 15,000/µL with cytoplasmic inclusion bodies, a protein level higher than 5 g/dL, a low total serum hemolytic complement (CH50), a high immunoglobulin G (IgG) level, and a high rheumatoid factor. Cholesterol levels may be high in the fluid of patients with RA who have nodules.

For pericarditis due to RA and other systemic autoimmune diseases, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2004 guideline, and its 2015 update, on the diagnosis and management of pericardial diseases recommends intensified treatment of the underlying disease and symptomatic management. [3, 4, 32]

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