Cardiac (Heart) Involvement in Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma)

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Overview and Video
Correlation with Other Diseases
Systemic Scleroderma
Personal Stories

Overview and Video

Scleroderma Heart Involvement Video
Video: Scleroderma Heart Involvement

Presented by Amanda Thorpe
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The systemic forms of scleroderma can cause cardiac (heart) problems. One of the earliest symptoms reported by diffuse systemic scleroderma patients is heart irregularities. Systemic scleroderma can cause arrhythmias, pericardial effusion, and heart failure.

Formation of scar tissue in the heart and lungs has recently been recognized as a general pattern probably contributing to overall fatigue. It is very important for people with diffuse scleroderma to see a listed scleroderma expert and to report any heart-related symptoms if or when they arise. (Also see What is Scleroderma? and Types of Scleroderma, and Scleroderma Experts)

Life–saving heart devices often inaccessible in public places. One in five cardiac arrests outside of hospitals occurred near an automated external defibrillator (AED) that was inaccessible at the time, researchers' study found. Reuters Health, 08/19/2016.

Sitting Really Can Kill You, Heart Experts Say. Evidence is building that sitting for too long can cause heart disease and diabetes – even in people who exercise, the American Heart Association said Monday. NBC News, 08/15/2016. (Also see Causes of Diabetes)

Cutting Sugar Rapidly Improves Heart Health Markers. Obese children who cut sugar from their diets saw improvements in markers of heart disease after just nine days, a study in Atherosclerosis found. Time Healthland, 07/19/2016.

Hospitalizations for heart failure spike after major holidays. The number of people admitted to hospitals for heart failure drops on major holidays but then climbs in the days that follow, a new study suggests. Reuters Health, 06/17/2016.

Optimism good for your heart, but gratitude, not so much. After surviving a heart attack or severe blockage of blood flow to the heart, optimistic people are more likely to make healthy lifestyle changes and less likely to end up back in the hospital, a U.S. study suggests. Reuters Health, 12/10/2015.

How Low Should We Go? (When It Comes To Blood Pressure). A new study suggests getting blood pressure as low as possible may not be critical for people with hypertension. Time Healthland, 06/17/2014.

Working Too Hard? Physically Demanding Jobs Tied to Higher Risk of Heart Disease. While physical activity can lower the risk of heart disease, two studies suggest that jobs involving hard manual labor may harm, rather than help the heart. Time Healthland, 04/19/2013.

Cardiac (Heart) Symptoms

Cardiac (Heart) Symptoms. Common symptoms of heart failure include breathing difficulties, fatigue and exercise intolerance, and coughing. ISN.

Heart Symptoms in Women
Chest Pain
Common Symptoms of Heart Failure
Fainting (Syncope)

Correlation Between Cardiac and Other Diseases

Heart Health Is Linked to Brain Health: Study. Having a healthy heart can help preserve brain processing and cognitive function over time, according to a new study published. Time Healthland, 03/16/2016.

Nocturia in Patients With Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Continuous positive airway pressure has the potential to reduce nocturia and risk factors for SDB, which may be beneficial in older men with CVD and obstructive sleep apnea. PubMed, Circ J, 10/19/2015. (Also see Sleep Apnea)

Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease, Stroke. When a snorer repeatedly stops breathing for brief moments, it can lead to cardiovascular problems and potentially be life-threatening. American Heart Association, 09/16/2015. (Also see Sleep Apnea)

Cardiac Involvement in Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA). Cardiac involvement in GPA is rare and heterogeneous and was not associated with a higher rate of relapse or premature death. PubMed, J Rheumatol, 05/01/2015.

Screening men with erectile dysfunction (ED) for heart disease could save money, lives. If every man with erectile dysfunction were screened for heart disease, more than a million events like heart attack or stroke could be avoided, according to a new estimate. Reuters Health, 03/11/2015. (Also see Erectile Dysfunction)

Myopathies related to systemic sclerosis: a case-control study of associated clinical and immunological features. Heart monitoring of SSc patients with myopathy should be undertaken regularly because of the association of myocardial and skeletal myopathies in such patients. PubMed, Scand J Rheumatol, [2010]. (Also see Myopathies)

Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) and Heart Disease. ISN.

Systemic Scleroderma Heart Involvement

Systemic Scleroderma Cardiac (Heart) Involvement. The systemic forms of scleroderma can cause cardiac (heart) problems. One of the earliest symptoms reported by diffuse systemic scleroderma patients is heart irregularities. ISN.

Aortic Stiffness
Asymptomatic Pericardial
Cardiac Remodeling
Carotid Artery Disease
Left Ventricle
Lipoprotein[a], Thrombotic
Mitral/Tricuspid Valve
Myocardial Ischemia
Right Ventricle
Stroke and TIA

Vascular Disease and Systemic Scleroderma. The vascular system is our circulatory system. It consists of all the vessels that carry blood and lymph through the body, to and from organs. Vessels include arteries, veins, and capillaries. Any condition that affects the vascular system, all of in part, is considered a vascular disease. ISN.

Vascular in Scleroderma
Types in Scleroderma
In Other CTDs
Personal Stories
Related Information

Complications with Systemic Scleroderma Heart Involvement

Complications with Systemic Scleroderma Cardiac (Heart) Involvement include atrioventricular heart block, cardiogenic shock, myocardial infarction, and skeletal myopathy. ISN.

Aortic Valve Insufficiency
Atrioventricular Heart Block
Cardiogenic Shock
Cardiac Tamponade
Diastolic Dysfunction
Macrovascular Disease
Myocardial Infarction
Skeletal Myopathy


Diagnosis of Systemic Scleroderma Cardiac (Heart) Involvement. It is common for patients with systemic scleroderma to develop heart involvement even without any overt cardiac symptoms, so mandatory assessment of systemic scleroderma heart involvement requires a thorough baseline screening and follow-up monitoring. ISN.

CT Scans
--ECHO (General)
--Tissue Doppler
Heart Rate
Holter Monitoring


Treatments for Systemic Scleroderma Cardiac (Heart) Involvement include Bosentan, and calcium channel blockers such as nicardipine (Cardene) and nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia). ISN.

Beta Blockers
Bosentan, Tracleer
Combination Therapy
Calcium Channel Blockers
Nicardipine, Nifedipine
Coronary Artery Bypass
Dietary Approaches
Pericarditis Treatments


Research about Systemic Scleroderma Heart Involvement. Topics include antibodies, autoimmunity, case studies, and causes of scleroderma heart involvement. ISN.

Autoimmunity and Heart Disease
Causes of Heart Disease

Personal Stories: Cardiac (Heart) Involvement

Patient and Caregiver Stories: Cardiac (Heart) Involvement. ISN.

Anastasia: Surviving Granddaughter of a Diffuse Scleroderma Patient Traveling to a different hospital finally we heard scleroderma…

Angela S: Overlap Syndrome I am twenty-five years old and I was diagnosed with polymyositis and scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, mitral valve prolapse, a heart murmur, and pericarditis…

Angiola: Progressive Systemic Scleroderma (Italy) I would very much like to find other people that find themselves in a similar situation…

Read more stories…

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