8 Facts About RA and Heart Disease

Allison Tsai | Feb 4th 2014 Feb 21st 2017

1 of 8
1 of 8

RA doubles the risk for heart disease

Two studies presented in 2008 at the Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism found that people with RA had double the risk for heart disease, which was comparable to risk for people with type 2 diabetes. More studies in 2013 confirmed those findings, and also found that early treatment of RA could reduce the risk for heart disease.

2 of 8

More severe RA has a higher risk

Mayo Clinic studies presented in 2013 at the annual American College of Rheumatology meeting also found that patients with more severe RA are more likely to have heart problems. Particularly, people with severe RA had a higher risk within the first year of their disease. Researchers noted that the risk decreases as time goes on if RA is treated and managed well.

3 of 8

Women with early menopause and RA have a higher risk

Another study found that women with RA who experienced menopause before age 45 also seem to have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Researchers think that hormones may influence rheumatoid arthritis, which may in turn increase the risk for heart disease.

4 of 8

Body-wide inflammation may be a factor

Rheumatoid arthritis creates inflammation in the body that affects not only the joints, but also organs. This systemic inflammation may be the cause for increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people with RA.

5 of 8

Biologics may lower the cardiovascular risk

A 2012 study showed a remarkable reduction in heart attacks in people taking anti-TNF medication. The study looked at 100,000 people taking anti-TNF drugs over time, and found that the longer someone is treated with it, the lower their risk of heart disease. After one year, the risk was lowered by 24 percent, after two years by 42 percent and after three years by 56 percent.

6 of 8

People with RA should have annual cardiovascular risk screenings

Although people with RA generally go to the doctor frequently and are on treatments to control their inflammation, sometimes cardiovascular health gets lost in the mix. The Arthritis Foundation recommends that all RA patients be annually screened for cardiovascular risk. This is also true for ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis patients.

7 of 8

Statins and anti-hypertensives should be considered

Experts say that treatment with statins and anti-hypertensives should be considered for patients with RA. In addition, cardiovascular management should be set according to guidelines, and treatment should be considered based on the new cardiovascular risk calculators that include RA as a risk factor.

8 of 8

Lifestyle changes may reduce risk

In addition to medication, lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk for heart disease. A balanced diet and exercise are two important factors, as well as stress management and quitting smoking.

NEXT: 10 Ways to Make Daily Life Easier with Arthritis
More on this topic

Yes, You Can Garden with RA

Marianna Paulson

How Do Biologics Treat RA?

Allison Tsai

Custom Orthotics Soothe RA Feet

Vanessa Collins

4 Surprising Joints Affected by RA

Lene Andersen

Complement Your RA Treatment with These Awesome Therapies

Amanda Page

Do You Know How to Manage Your RA Pain?

Allison Tsai

Tips for Traveling with RA

Lene Andersen

Simple Exercises for All Levels of RA

Allison Tsai

Finding a Good Doctor

Leslie Rott

10 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Chronic Illness

Lene Andersen

Different Types of RA

Mark Borigini, M.D.

Wrist splints pros and cons

Christine Miller

What Are the Extra-articular Effects of RA?

Lene Andersen

Biologics Q&A with Dr. Peng

Yumhee Park

Study Finds Possible RA Trigger in Gut Bacteria

Lene Andersen

How to Get a Disability Parking Permit for Your Car

Lene Andersen

How Micael Kuluva Keeps RA Fashionable

Lene Andersen

Emotional Impact of Side Effects from RA Meds

Lene Andersen

Becoming Empowered With RA

Britt J Johnson

Lene's Update on Life with RA

Finding Joy in Life with RA

Lene Andersen

Myths and Misperceptions about Biologics

Lene Andersen

RA Resolutions for the Holidays and Beyond!

Marianna Paulson

A Profile of Mariah Leach: Mom, Blogger, Bicyclist

Lene Andersen

How I Learned to Redefine Myself as an Athlete with RA

Anna Legassie

Do Not Be Afraid to File for FMLA

Vanessa Collins

10 Best Ways to Distract Yourself from Pain

Lene Anderson

What's Causing Your RA Fatigue?

Lene Andersen

How to Get Mobile after Surgery

Marianna Paulson

The Struggles of Finding a Job with RA

Leslie Rott

The Must-Read Guide to Biologics

Lene Andersen

How a Dietitian Can Help with RA

Lene Andersen

Winter and RA: Surviving the Cold

Lene Andersen

Practical Tips for Managing RA Pain

Britt J Johnson

A Beginner's Guide to Biologics

Lene Andersen

10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About RA

Lene Andersen

How to Reinvent Yourself

Lene Andersen

10 Essential Relationship Tips with RA

Lene Andersen

How to Find a Rheumatologist?

Lene Andersen

Getting a Total Hip Replacement with RA

Lene Andersen

Joy as a Coping Tool for Chronic Conditions

Lene Andersen

Which Doctor Do You Really Need?

Lene Andersen

What to Know About Using Biologics

Lene Andersen

Eye Health and Aging

Lisa Emrich

Finding Support Online

Vanessa Collins

How to Have a Good Planning System

Marianna Paulson

Changing RA Treatments

Lisa Emrich

"I'm Fine" (AKA I'm Most Definitely Not Fine)

Britt J Johnson