As reported by WebMD, the quality of life for people with arthritis is getting better and better each year, as long as the necessary steps are taken to alleviate the pain. Needless to say, if you have the condition you need to take special care of yourself, and also consider other ailments that may arise. For example, if you have arthritis you are more likely to get heart disease, with people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) having the highest risk. Read on to find out why the conditions are connected, and how to reduce the risk factors.
Why are the conditions connected?
Firstly, inflammation. Regardless of the cause, inflammation can increase the risk of CVD. Secondly, some of the same risk factors that cause arthritis can also cause heart disease such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity, obesity and diabetes. Thirdly, unfortunately some drugs that help arthritis might increase the risk of CVD such as Tocilizumab, Prednisone and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. On the flip side, some arthritis medications can actually reduce the risk of heart disease such as Methotrexate, Hydroxychloroquine and Tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors.
How to reduce heart disease risk for people with arthritis
As stated above some of the same risk factors for arthritis can also cause heart disease and many of these are controllable. To reduce your risk of heart disease quit smoking, eat a balanced diet, stay active within your capacity and lose weight if you can. In addition, stress can contribute to heart disease although scientists are not yet sure why this is. Obviously living with a chronic pain condition like arthritis can be stressful, this can’t be helped. You may not be able to cure arthritis but you can use techniques to relieve arthritis pain such as applying heat or cold, gentle exercise, topical creams or massage therapy. You could also consider seeing a counselor experienced in patients with chronic illness to improve your mental health. Using these methods, not only will you improve your quality of life improve but you will reduce your risk of heart disease.
Double jeopardy: living with arthritis and heart disease
Of people with heart disease, almost 60% also have arthritis. Managing the two conditions together can be tricky but here are a few tips. Exercise is very important for both arthritis and CVD but be careful with what you choose: many doctors recommend swimming because it takes the pressure off the joints. As discussed above, some arthritis medication can be problematic regarding heart disease so discuss your medication programme in detail with your doctor and make sure he or she is thoroughly aware of the details of both your conditions.
If you have arthritis make sure to take special care of your heart too.The positive is many things you can do to help your arthritis will also help your heart as well and help you live a healthy happy life in general. Stay informed, take care of yourself and focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. Modern medicine has progressed a lot and people with arthritis can live better lives than ever before!
By Sally Phillips