Arthritis Increases Risk of Heart Disease

A new study has found that people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are at an increased risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint, but is common in the wrist and fingers. More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. The disease can last for a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime. An estimated 1.293 million adults aged 18 and older (0.6%) has RA.

A new five year study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy showed that the risk of cardiovascular disease for people with RA is due to disease-related inflammation as well as the risk factors, which affect the general population.

Treatment of arthritis with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) has been found to reduce the patient’s risk of heart disease.

In the study over 400 people with Rheumatoid arthritis were followed, and the progression of their disease measured using chemical markers of inflammation and physical appearance.  Treatments were monitored along with risk factors for heart disease including; weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

After five years of study, 97 percent of the participants that had been treated with DMARDs improved. The DMARDs reduced both the chemical markers of inflammation and the physical appearance of their arthritis. Patients were also looking after themselves better, fewer smokers and their BMI, blood pressure had diminished

Analysis of the participant’s data revealed that new cardiovascular events such as heart disease, stroke, or DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) could be predicted by the intensity of their arthritis and by the presence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high level of triglycerides.

"Inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis increases patients risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular events. However it is possible to reduce this risk in a two-pronged attack by treating both the inflammation and traditional risk factors for heart disease." said Dr. Wållberg-Jonsson

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