Link Found Between Arthritis and Surprise Heart Attacks
A recent study has shown those with rheumatoid arthritis may be at increased risk of a surprise heart attack. The research showed that a number of arthritis patients have sudden heart attacks despite having no history of heart disease.
Researchers studied 91 patients with the condition who had suffered a heart attack, and had traditional cardiovascular risk factors (such as smoking), but had no symptoms of heart disease. They found that almost a quarter of the patients had heart disease, despite the lack of symptoms.
“Our study suggests a quarter of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and no symptoms of heart disease could have a heart attack without prior warning,” says cardiologist Dr Adriana Puente, of Mexico’s National Medical Centre. “Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.6% of the population. It nearly doubles the risk of a heart attack. But most patients never knew they had heart disease and were never alerted about their risk.”
55% of the patients has high levels of fat in their blood, 32% had high blood pressure, 14% were smokers and 10% had type 2 diabetes. Rheumatoid arthritis was still found to increase the risk of heart disease even when the possible impact of these other factors was taken into account.
The researchers have suggested that the inflammation in the body caused by arthritis may contribute to the clogging of arteries, thereby restricting the blood flow to the heart and increasing the risk of heart attack. However, the results of this study cannot demonstration any significant correlation between such inflammation and the presence of a heart attack.
The key thing that the results indicate is that arthritis patients should be aware of their potential increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and should be tested accordingly.
Dr Puente says: “The results highlight the importance of conducting diagnostic tests in patients with rheumatoid arthritis to see if they have cardiovascular disease, even if they have no symptoms and regardless of whether they have cardiovascular risk factors. This is essential to prevent and reduce cardiovascular mortality.”