Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and heart disease are closely linked. Several studies in the past have shown that chances of suffering from cardiovascular conditions are almost double in patients with RA compared to what it’s among individuals who don’t have RA. However, a new study has indicated that improved care and advanced medical facilities have succeeded in reducing the risk of heart disease among RA patients.

Inflammation resulting from RA is believed to be the primary reason behind greater chances of cardiovascular disorders in patients with RA. Inflamed tissues make the blood vessels of patients with RA narrower and thereby obstruct blood flow. Inflammation at times also aggravates breaking of the plaque chips, which enter the patients’ blood stream and obstruct their narrow arteries. These obstructions eventually can result in heart stroke and heart failure.

Inflammation occurring in the heart sac or the wall of the heart is another major cause of heart failure. Often, we find patients ignoring heart failure signs due to lack of knowledge. The most common symptoms of heart failure include fatigue, tiredness, breathlessness and swelling in the legs. The other cardiovascular problem observed in the majority of the RA patients is an irregular heartbeat.

The most convenient way of protecting RA patients against heart ailments is by getting them examined for inflammations at regular intervals. Estimates suggest that heart disease risk get doubled in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for more than one year.

During this new study, researchers observed death rates among two groups of patients with RA during a period of ten years.

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The first group consisted of a total of 315 patients who got diagnosed with RA between the years 2000 and 2007. The second group had 498 patients who got diagnosed with the condition during the 80s and the 90s. There was another group of 813 patients who only had heart disease. Two in every three patients monitored during the study were above the age of 60 years and were women.

The results showed that rates of death were much higher among patients in the second group. The death rate was 7.9% in patients diagnosed with RA during the 80s and 90s while it was just 2.8% in patients diagnosed with the condition between 2000 and 2007.