There are a lot of articles written about shorter life spans for people with RA. We have all read them, having rheumatoid arthritis is considered a risk factor for heart disease. Could it be that cardiac problems associated with RA are due, in part, to a lack of physical activity due to disability or chronic fatigue? Many RA patients are diabled within 15 years after diagnosis. It is common knowledge that muscles that aren’t used will atrophy. The same would be true for the heart, since after all, it is a muscle.
This is why I try to push myself to workout, at least a little bit, even on days when I don't feel like it. It doesn't have to be a grueling 90 minute workout that pummels you into a sweat induced, dehydrated coma. A simple 20 minute workout of walking or some light dumbbell exercises each day will help. The main thing is just getting started. Believe me, I know it's hard, but once you feel it working, you will want to do more. Also, weight bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis, another secondary effect of RA.
It is important that we, as RAer's, manage our risk for heart disease by monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Easier said than done, I need to lose weight, but I do work out, monitor my blood pressure twice weekly and have yearly physicals with bloodwork done. It's our responsibility to make healthy lifestyle choices for ourselves, our doctors can not do that for us.