Recent research suggests that people who suffer from inflammatory joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease that could be better controlled if only preventative measures were adopted.
Although there is no definitive proof that inflammation causes cardiovascular disease, research tells us that inflammation is common in people who suffer strokes and heart disease. It is, therefore, very important to understand inflammation and what it can do to the body, including the heart. The new research indicates that people who live with inflammatory joint disease like rheumatoid arthritis or spondyloarthritis are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) because too few are prescribed preventative therapies.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation in multiple joints. It can limit the function and motion of affected joints. Studies suggest the inflammation may also impact internal organs.
Sadly, about 1.3 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or spondyloarthritis, which can include the following inflammatory diseases: ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and reactive arthritis.
The latest research was presented at the ACR/ARHP, the annual meeting of the premier educational event for physicians and scientists who treat people with arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases. The presentation pointed out that anti-hypertensive and lipid-lowering therapies are widely available to prevent cardiovascular disease. Researchers at Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Norway conducted a large study to evaluate the use of anti-CVD therapies among people suffering from inflammatory joint disease. They discovered a “huge unmet need” for cardiovascular disease preventative measures in people who are at high risk.
Anne Grete Semb is a consultant and cardiologist at Diakonhjemmet Hospital and was the lead author of the study. In a recent news release, she stated, “This is the first step in CVD prevention, and it may lead to improvement of CVD preventative medication in patients with inflammatory joint diseases.”
Heart disease impacts so many people. Every year, one in four deaths in the United States are attributed to heart disease. Today, it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a large percentage of deaths from heart disease can be prevented if people avoid being sedentary, indulging in too much alcohol, letting their weight get out of control, and eating unhealthy. This doesn’t address the issue of inflammation, which comes into play when you are suffering from an inflammatory joint disease like rheumatoid arthritis. While the recent findings presented at the ACR/ARHP annual meeting can serve as an eye-opener to healthcare professionals, much more research on the subject of inflammatory joint disease, as well as its link to cardiovascular disease and prevention, is required.
Living with rheumatoid arthritis or spondyloarthritis is not easy. Many people who suffer from these diseases are forced to make dramatic changes in their lifestyles, careers, and daily activities. While there is a lot of resources and help for those who suffer from inflammatory ailments, there is no doubt that nobody living with these diseases wants to add cardiovascular problems to their list of ailments. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, or reactive arthritis, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about your risk of cardiovascular disease and any preventative measures you might be able to adopt.