Heart of the Matter : Heart Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Posted Sep 30 2008 9:42am
I have 2 strikes going against me when it comes to the health of my heart.
Strike one- Marfans Syndrome, a condition that causes my connective tissue to be defective and not act the way it should. It affects my skin, bones, eyes and my heart. At present, I only have a heart murmur, but more severe cases include aortic dilation, leakage, tearing or rupture.
Strike Two- I have Rheumatoid Arthritis which can cause inflammation of the membranes surrounding the heart. Thank goodness this isn’t baseball or I’d be out next strike!! I don’t like baseball and haven’t watched it since the Jay’s won the pennant in ’92. I’m a hockey fan!
OK, back on track… heart disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. A study done by Mayo Clinic researchers uncovered some results that would suggest Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers have a higher risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths. They studied 1206 people over a period of 26 years. 603 people had RA the other half did not. The entire grouped was matched in age, gender and location. Conclusions were made that people with Rheumatoid Arthritis are 3 times more likely to have been hospitalized for an acute heart attack, less likely to have a history of chest pains and 5 times more likely to have an unrecognized heart attack because of pain medications masking pain, and twice as likely to die from sudden cardiac death.
Fortunately for me, I’m on a pretty hefty dose of blood thinners because of a blood clotting disorder so I don’t have to worry about that kind of blockage. I’m not overweight at all, and that eliminates some stress on my heart. I do however need to be vigilant about how Marfans affects my aorta and that Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause membrane inflammation. Keeping my doctors informed, educating myself on what to watch for, new possible treatments, and keeping myself fit will all be beneficial to the wellbeing of my ticker.
Is your RA affecting your heart? Got some experience you’d like to share? By all means, send me a comment!