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Arthritis Leads to Cardiac Problems

Arthritis is a commonly heard disease, but many don’t know that inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus can put you in danger of cardiovascular diseases. Research says that arthritis increases 60% chances of its patients dying of heart problems than those who don’t have arthritis. It has been seen that arthritis patients are 2-3 times more prone to develop blood clots leading to myocardial infarction (heart attack) or cardiovascular diseases. Also, there is an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), which is an important factor for causing the stroke.

There are 2 common types of arthritis that are also related to causing cardiac problems:

  1. Osteoarthritis: Cushiony material between joints wears away and leads to stiffness and pain
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the health tissue mistakenly, which causes swelling and inflammation.

In a 2015 study, researchers said that people with arthritis are more likely to have atherosclerosis. In fact, the risk of ischemic stroke in arthritis patients is doubled.  Ischemic stroke is caused by a clot in the artery which supplies blood to the brain.

Why are arthritis patients at a high risk of heart problems?

The process of inflammation in arthritis and heart conditions is similar. In arthritis, inflammation affects the thin layer of tissue that lines your joints. And as inflammation starts affecting the other organs such as heart, its risk of damaging the blood vessel lining increases. Inflammation leads to re-structure of the blood vessels, making the deposited fat in the arteries more prone to rupture. While there is no certainty, but cardiologists do believe that continuous inflammation in arthritis patients, collides with other factors such as abnormal cholesterol levels and thus can lead to cardiovascular ailments.

The longer you have arthritis the more likely you are to develop cardiac problems.

Arthritis and Heart Disease: The link

  1. Less physical activity: Exercising is necessary for a healthy heart, but since arthritis affects the joints it is difficult for patients to be active.
  2. Obesity: Obesity is a common factor in both, arthritis and heart problems. As excess body weight pressurises both heart and joints, it starts taking a toll on the heart health.
  3. Diabetes: Patients with type-2 diabetes have the high risk of developing severe arthritis, which can lead to joint replacement and heart ailments.

What can you do?

Dealing with arthritis and heart disease is difficult, it’s imperative that you look after yourself. You can lower the chances of having heart problems by taking simple steps towards a healthy heart and healthy life.

  1. Control cholesterol: You should always keep a check on your cholesterol level; it is a form of fat which gets deposited in your arteries, slows the flow of blood and makes one vulnerable to heart diseases.
  2. Exercise: Physical activity is a good option, except for those who are wheelchair bound. People with mild joint pain can try walking. Also, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise.
  3. Quit smoking: Smoking lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and promotes hardening of arteries.
  4. Know your family history: Cardiac problems are a killer, with or without arthritis. If your family has a history of heart diseases, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, consult your doctor.

Having a proactive lifestyle is the solution to all heart problems. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating the right kind of food is also a necessity to reduce the risk of heart problems. Take initiative and ask your doctor about the risk and problems involved with arthritis and what kind of diet and exercise regime you should follow to lower your chances of cardiovascular diseases.

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