Does carpal tunnel syndrome, a common neurological condition, have any connection to heart failure? A new study says there is a potential link between the two seemingly unrelated diseases.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common issues that affect the hand. It is caused by the narrowing of the carpal tunnel or the passageway in the wrist, resulting in increased pressure within the median nerve. The patients suffer pain, numbness and general weakness in the hand and wrist.

Heart failure, on the other hand, is a condition that happens when the heart does not pump enough blood. It can be due to coronary heart disease, heart inflammation, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy or an irregular heartbeat.

In the study, published in JAMA Network Open, a group of researchers found that elderly patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are 39% more likely to develop heart failure (HF) compared with those without the condition during a 10-year follow-up.

"The increased rate of HF among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome requires attention because HF is a common disease associated with high mortality. Early diagnosis of HF is a key to successful treatment, particularly for [transthyretin] cardiac amyloidosis, which has been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome in a recent study," the researchers said.

Researchers believe the link between the two diseases might be that patients with carpal tunnel syndrome have an increased build-up of faulty proteins called fibrils, similar to that of transthyretin (ATTR) cardiac amyloidosis patients who face heart failure.

In a retrospective study, researchers analyzed data from 81,898 adults in Germany with an initial diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome from 2005 to 2020. Ten years later, 6.2% of people who did not have carpal tunnel syndrome and 8.4% of people with carpal tunnel syndrome were diagnosed with heart failure.

In the regression analysis, researchers found an association between carpal tunnel syndrome and subsequent heart failure diagnosis in patients aged 60 and above.

However, researchers caution that their study does not indicate that carpal tunnel syndrome directly causes heart failure. The study also does not suggest that people with carpal tunnel syndrome need to panic and check for heart failure. "These two diagnoses are very different and there is no direct link between them," Karel Kostev, study author said.