A new study has identified shoulder pain as a risk factor for heart disease. Study lead author Kurt Hegmann explained, “If someone has rotator cuff problems, it could be a sign that there is something else going on. They may need to manage risk factors for heart disease.”
Shoulder-related problems are often associated with the overuse of the shoulder, for example, in baseball pitchers who are constantly using the same motion to throw a ball. Although physical exertion does play a role in shoulder pain, there are other factors as well. Studies have shown that those individuals who are at a higher risk for heart disease are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, and tennis elbow.
The researchers found that the more heart disease risk factors a patient had the more likely they were to suffer from shoulder pain. Thirty-six participants who had the most severe collection of risk factors for heart disease were 4.6 times more likely to experience shoulder pain. Those with mid-level heart disease risk factors were 1.5 to three times more likely to experience shoulder pain.
Hegmann added, “What we think we are seeing is that high force can accelerate rotator cuff issues, but is not the primary driver. Cardiovascular disease risk factors could be more important than job factors for incurring these types of problems.”
Hegmann suggests that shoulder pain may be alleviated by controlling heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure.