The science is becoming clearer that #RAWarriors are more susceptible to heart disease—specifically atherosclerosis. Learn more about RA heart inflammation and how to decrease the risk for heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease includes diseases of the heart and blood vessel. Included in this class of diseases are heart failure, rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
RA & Heart Inflammation
RA does more than just affect the joints. It can cause significant inflammation and subsequently damage the lungs and heart. But RA heart inflammation is more complex than inflammation of the lungs.
The heart is a complex organ and system. The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood vessels, and the approximately 5 liters of blood. The system is responsible for transporting oxygen, nutrients, hormones and more throughout the body. The heart is also arguably the hardest-working organ in the body.
The Connection between Stress and Build-Up in Blood Vessels
Atherosclerosis is typically the accumulation of fats, cholesterol, and other substances inside and on the artery walls. Individuals who eat a diet full of trans saturated fats tend to develop atherosclerosis. Another factor for developing atherosclerosis is stress.
Studies have shown that stress significantly increases inflammation levels, including heart inflammation. Researchers found that individuals who undergo chronic stress have elevated c-reactive protein levels in their blood. This biomarker correlates with the level of inflammation in the body.
In fact, the medical community is now expanding the understanding of the relationship between stress and heart disease. This research is highlighting the negative impact of inflammation on the heart.
Not only does inflammation make the heart work harder than it should, it also affects the other parts of the cardiovascular system—the blood, arteries, etc.
The blood is responsible for carrying cellular waste from the body. When inflammation, which is a by-product of stress, sends the body’s internal organ systems into a frenzy, things don’t work properly. The hypothesis of the connection between artery wall build-up and inflammation is that waste is not being carried away properly, resulting in the build-up inside the artery walls.
Strategies to Mitigate Cardiovascular Inflammation for #RAWarriors
Researchers and specialists of RA and heart complications are supporting the concept of monitoring and treating the heart at the forefront of an RA diagnosis. This could mean the prescription of medications like blood pressure medication preemptively to the addition of a cardiologist as part of the treatment team. The good news is, there are many resources out there for heart disease management.
And, it may be useful to add a cardiologist to your RA treatment team.
A healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables needs to be a priority for #RAWarriors. Reducing trans-fat (whether it is saturated or unsaturated), hydrogenated oils, fatty meats, junk food, etc. should become a lifestyle change. Replacing these foods—(which contribute to build-up in the artery wall and cause atherosclerosis)—with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and unprocessed carbohydrates should also be an important lifestyle modification for #RAWarriors.