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Are arthritis and heart disease related? Several studies show that they are, including a study published October 13, 2015, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Why do these two conditions seem to go hand in hand? If you suffer from arthritis, should you be concerned?

One of the biggest causes of arthritis in modern industrialized society is metabolic syndrome. This is what happens to many Americans as they hit middle age. Because they exercise too little, eat too many starchy and sugary foods, and gain weight their blood pressure begins to creep upwards and triglycerides in their blood skyrocket. All of this increases the risk for both heart disease and arthritis. While the weight gain puts more pressure on the joints, the larger issue is that metabolic syndrome causes low-level, whole-body inflammation and other chemical changes that are, for arthritis patients, the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire.

The study reported in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology looked at a huge population of patients across 15 studies, some 32 million people! About a third of the patients with arthritis had heart disease, and the arthritis patients were three times as likely to have heart failure as were the patients who didn’t suffer from arthritis. Interestingly, there was no difference between the two groups for heart attack or stroke risks.

This seems to be happening because patients with arthritis are less active and many have metabolic syndrome, which also is a risk for heart failure. In addition, the same type of low-level inflammation caused by metabolic syndrome also can fry the heart over time.

If your joints ache, you may want to change your lifestyle. Cutting out carbohydrates and exercising regularly likely will help your arthritis, but these health measures also may save your life.


“Arthritis and Heart Disease” first appeared as a post on the Regenexx blog.
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