ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
Why Am I So Tired? Could It Be Low Thyroid?
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Countdown to Hair Loss
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
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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