A recent study undertaken by the Mayo Clinic showed people with rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory diseases are at a greater risk of developing heart disease than those without such problems.
These studies which were presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting showed that not only were rheumatoid arthritis patients at a greater risk of developing CHD, but also early menopause, a decreasing in the efficiency of the immune system, more severe rheumatoid arthritis, and a loss of immunity to a common virus cytomegalovirus.
All these thing occur shortly after arthritis strikes, so early detection and diagnosis is the key here.
Dr Matteson, chair of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic says "One thing that we learned in particular in this study is that the high disease burden on the joints in the first year of disease already is a very strong predictor of cardiovascular disease subsequently, and that seems to be mitigated as time goes on if the disease burden can be reduced too,"
Another study showed a correlation between women with rheumatoid arthritis and early menopause (before age 45), also seem to be at risk of CHD. Currently approximately two thirds of all rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are women and researchers are currently conducting studies to discover if there is also a link between hormonal influences and RA.
Dr Matteson also says "We also found patients who have had multiple children, especially seven or more, are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared with women who have menopause at a normal age or have fewer children."
Dr Wallberg-Jonsson from University Hospital, Umea, in Sweden said, "Inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis increases patients risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular events. However it is possible to reduce this risk in a two-pronged attack by treating both the inflammation and traditional risk factors for heart disease."