ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
CAREGIVING
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Fatty Acid in Olive Oil Wards Off Hunger
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
EYE CARE, VISION
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
FITNESS
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Add your Article

Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart

MONDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- People newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis face twice the risk of a heart attack, and those who do suffer a heart attack tend to have more heart-related complications, new research says.

It seems that a condition called diastolic dysfunction, which causes the lower chambers of the heart to become stiff, is the culprit. Diastolic dysfunction impairs the ability of the ventricles to fill with blood and can lead to heart failure, the researchers said.

These are the conclusions of three reports presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual scientific meeting, which runs from Oct. 24-29, in San Francisco.

"Rheumatoid arthritis patients not only have more heart attacks and heart failures, but they also have worse prognosis once they have a cardiovascular event," said Dr. Hilal Maradit Kremers, lead researcher on one of the studies and an epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

For the study, Kremers' team followed 38 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had suffered a heart attack. Then they compared these patients with patients without rheumatoid arthritis who also had a heart attack.

The researchers found that the rheumatoid arthritis patients had a 45 percent greater risk of developing heart failure after a heart attack, compared with the general population, and a 75 percent greater risk of dying.

Kremers said patients with rheumatoid arthritis should take all the usual precautions to reduce their risk of a heart attack, including proper diet, exercise, no smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. "Try to avoid to get that heart attack," she said.

For the second study, Marie Gunnarsson, a doctoral student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues found that the risk of heart attack among newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients doubled during the first 10 years after diagnosis.

The researchers collected data on 7,954 newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients and compared that information with 38,913 people from the general Swedish population.

Over 10 years of follow-up, the researchers found that patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis had almost double the risk of a heart attack and dying from a heart attack. The increased risk grew over time, starting five years after diagnosis, the study found.

"This study shows that having rheumatoid arthritis confers an increased risk of having a myocardial infarction [heart attack], and that this risk increase is manifest already early in RA disease progress," Gunnarsson said in an ACR news release.

"The fact that there is no increased risk prior to rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis suggests that there is something in the rheumatoid arthritis disease itself, such as inflammatory processes that lead to this increased risk. Measures to bring down inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis might, thus, be beneficial also from a cardiovascular prevention point of view in this population," she said.

In the last report, a research team led by Dr. Kimberly Liang, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, found that diastolic dysfunction was more common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which could help explain the increased risk for heart problems in these people.

"Diastolic dysfunction occurred in 38.9 percent, compared to 28.8 percent in the non-rheumatoid arthritis group," Liang said. "We also found that patients in the rheumatoid arthritis group had higher average pulmonary arterial pressure, which is high blood pressure in the lungs and the right side of the heart. This is consistent with the impaired filling of the heart seen in diastolic dysfunction."

Wider use of echocardiography in patients with rheumatoid arthritis may reveal heart abnormalities before they are detected clinically, Liang said. An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Dr. John Hardin, chief science officer at the Arthritis Foundation, said these new studies highlight the toll that rheumatoid arthritis can take on the cardiovascular system.

"These studies are consistent with the idea that systemic inflammation promotes cardiovascular disease," Hardin said. "Rheumatoid arthritis creates a general state of inflammation within the body."

Hardin also noted that some arthritis drugs can increase the risk of heart problems in rheumatoid arthritis patients who already have damaged hearts. "For example, Enbrel (etanercept) can, in fact, in some people, potentiate heart failure, which can be a complication of myocardial infarction," he said.

To prevent a heart attack, patients with rheumatoid arthritis need to pay particular attention to cholesterol, blood pressure and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Hardin said. "If you have rheumatoid arthritis, the things you do to protect yourself against cardiovascular disease become doubly important," he said.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that results in pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints. The disease also can cause inflammation in other organs. An estimated 1.3 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

More information

To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Hilal Maradit Kremers, M.D., associate professor of epidemiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Kimberly Liang, M.D., assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh; John Hardin, M.D., chief science officer, Arthritis Foundation, Atlanta; Oct. 25, 2008, presentations, American College of Rheumatology annual scientific meeting, San Francisco

Last Updated: Oct. 27, 2008

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