Fibromyalgia is associated with the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, according to research. The researchers arrived at this conclusion by comparing fibromyalgia patients to individuals without the condition.
In fibromyalgia – a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain – patients may also experience heart palpitations, chest pains, and heartburn. Unfortunately, these symptoms often go overlooked, especially if there is no current or past history of heart problems. The researchers in Taiwan have found that fibromyalgia patients have a higher risk of heart disease based on information from the Longitudinal Health Insurance Database.
There are many factors that could contribute to this increased risk of heart disease in fibromyalgia. Some researchers believe it may be a result of genetics, while others believe the conditions contributes to greater health problems as it progresses. At this time, the researchers have only found an association between fibromyalgia and heart disease, and not a cause-and-effect relationship.
Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, and they experience different symptoms of heart disease than men. Because of this disparity, oncoming heart complications often go undiagnosed. Fibromyalgia on its own is still not well understood, so it makes treating and spotting other ailments even more difficult.
In an alternative study, fibromyalgia has also been found to be associated with a higher risk of stroke. Even after accounting for comorbidities, which could contribute to stroke, fibromyalgia still remained a large risk factor for a higher risk of stroke. Furthermore, age was found to have the biggest impact on the risk of stroke in fibromyalgia patients. The association between fibromyalgia and stroke was seen highest among younger patients rather than older ones. The researchers recommend that fibromyalgia patients be closely monitored for stroke risk factors.
Tips to improve your heart health with fibromyalgia
There are many reasons why cardiovascular issues may coexist in fibromyalgia. For example, lack of exercise or inability to exercise due to pain can contribute to gaining weight, raise blood pressure and cholesterol, and promote inflammation. It’s important to keep your heart healthy whilst living with fibromyalgia in order to avoid greater complications to your overall health. Here are some tips to improve your heart health with fibromyalgia.
- Try massage therapy, which has been shown to slow down your heart rate.
- Reduce stress, as it can contribute to heart-related problems.
- Try to exercise as much as possible, but don’t overdo it – research has shown aquatic exercises are a good effective option for fibromyalgia.
- Try and get proper sleep – poor sleep can affect a person’s health, negatively impacting the heart health over time.
- Diagnose and treat depression – depression is common in fibromyalgia patients, but leaving it untreated can take a toll on your heart. Research has shown that depression increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
If you are living with fibromyalgia and are concerned about your heart, speak to your doctor about your risk factors and make a plan to help improve your heart health.