How Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Related To Heart Disease?

About two million Americans are being affected with rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease caused when the immune cells attack the joints and organs.

Even though the rheumatoid arthritis can be seen at any age, it most commonly occurs in young women and adults between the ages of 20 and 45.

People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to die younger mostly from cardiovascular disease. It has been found that there is a link between rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis seems to raise the risk of having silent heart disease. New research says that there is likely a risk of three times of dying prematurely with heart disease with rheumatoid arthritis.

The reason for this is that the inflammation advances atherosclerosis. The marker of inflammation and elevation of C-reactive protein levels have been shown to predict cardiovascular disease in people.

Nevertheless, other inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease will not carry the risk of having premature deaths from heart diseases.

A new study suggests that the risk can be identified and modified with the same criteria that are used to identify the risk of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of cardiovascular disease, and older age.

Role Of HLA-DRB1 Gene In Premature Deaths

To know other possible suspects, researches of United Kingdom tried to investigate the genetic variants linked to the likelihood of developing RA may make the patients often die from cardiovascular disease.

This study focused on two genes, HLA-DRB1 and PTPN22 and the interaction of these two genes with rheumatoid risk factors and it is evidenced that HLA-DRB1 genotypes, which already is susceptible for rheumatoid arthritis, is a predictor for premature deaths from cardiovascular disease.

It has been found that the people who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis later are three times likely to have been hospitalized with acute heart attack and five times to have unrecognized heart attack.

After the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, the people are two times to have found they have heart attack and did not notice and die prematurely from heart attack.

Actually, the risk of cardiovascular disease exists before the diagnosis of the rheumatoid arthritis. Since the heart disease is silent in people with rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to have regular cardiovascular check ups along with the diagnosis of RA.

Physical examination, x-rays, and diagnostic studies confirm the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Because the complications of rheumatoid arthritis start within months of occurrence, early referral to the rheumatologist for the initiation of treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs is needed to prevent complications.

Many DMARDs are available such as leflunomide (Arava), methotrexate, etc. If the patients do not respond to single drug, then a combination therapy will be used.

If the disease left untreated, 20-30% of the rheumatoid arthritis patients can become permanently work-disabled within two to three years of diagnosis.

So, early diagnosis of the rheumatoid arthritis and treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) helps to prevent the joint damage and joint deformity.