8 Facts About RA and Heart Disease

Allison Tsai | Feb 4th 2014 Apr 10th 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: 8 Tips for Traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis
More on this topic

Tips for Traveling with RA

Lene Andersen

Becoming Empowered With RA

Britt J Johnson

Emotional Impact of Side Effects from RA Meds

Lene Andersen

How Micael Kuluva Keeps RA Fashionable

Lene Andersen

How to Get a Disability Parking Permit for Your Car

Lene Andersen

Study Finds Possible RA Trigger in Gut Bacteria

Lene Andersen

Biologics Q&A with Dr. Peng

Yumhee Park

How Do You Define Yourself?

Anna Legassie

The Struggles of Finding a Job with RA

Leslie Rott

6 Questions to Consider before Starting Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen

How a Dietitian Can Help with RA

Lene Andersen

10 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Chronic Illness

Lene Andersen

Winter and RA: Surviving the Cold

Lene Andersen

What's Causing Your RA Fatigue?

Lene Andersen

10 Essential Relationship Tips with RA

Lene Andersen

4 Surprising Joints Affected by RA

Lene Andersen

Getting a Total Hip Replacement with RA

Lene Andersen

Joy as a Coping Tool for Chronic Conditions

Lene Andersen

What Are the Extra-articular Effects of RA?

Lene Andersen

Finding a Good Doctor

Leslie Rott

How to Have a Good Planning System

Marianna Paulson

A Beginner's Guide to Biologics

Lene Andersen

Changing RA Treatments

Lisa Emrich

Yes, You Can Garden with RA

Marianna Paulson

Do You Know How to Manage Your Pain?

Allison Tsai

Simple Exercises for All Levels of RA

Seth Ginsberg

Complement Your RA Treatment with These Awesome Therapies

Amanda Page

How Do Biologics Treat RA?

Allison Tsai

10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About RA

Lene Andersen

How to Reinvent Yourself

Lene Andersen

Do Not Be Afraid To File For FMLA Protection

Vanessa Collins

Different Types of RA

Mark Borigini, M.D.

Wrist splints pros and cons

Christine Miller

How to Modify Your Workout to Fit RA

Emil DeAndreis

Finding Joy in Life with RA

Lene's Update on Life with RA

Taking Charge of RA

TRACI MARTIN- LIVING WITH RA

Loving Baseball with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen

4 Questions and Answers about Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes

Lawrence 'Rick' Phillips

Traci Martin: Traveling the Great Lakes and Beyond with RA

The HealthCentral Editorial Team

Myths and Misperceptions about Biologics

Lene Andersen

RA Resolutions for the Holidays and Beyond!

Marianna Paulson

How to Get Mobile after Surgery

Marianna Paulson

The Must-Read Guide to Biologics

Lene Andersen

Meet Mariah Leach: Mom, Blogger, Bicyclist

Lene Andersen

What to Know About Using Biologics

Lene Andersen