Surprising Links Between Joint Health and Maintaining a Healthy Heart

Maintaining a healthy heart has always been an essential part of living a long and happy life, whether that be by eating a proper diet, exercising, or taking recommended vitamins and medications. Unfortunately, nearly half of American adults will still suffer from some type of cardiovascular disease. Though cardiovascular diseases may have a wide array of contributing causes from smoking to even high sodium intake, research has found that poor joint health may share some of the blame.

What Can Joint Pain Do to Your Heart?

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Do you have swelling, pain, or tenderness in your knees, shoulders, or hands when performing activities? You may be suffering from inflammation in your joints, and that can put your heart at risk. Joint inflammation caused by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis has been directly linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems due to its negative effects on the heart.

A 2009 study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, an international peer-reviewed journal of rheumatology, found strong links between heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Researchers conducted an analysis of 19 studies and nearly 100,000 patients to find that RA increases the risk of cardiovascular death by 60 percent in comparison with people who don’t have the disease.

Inflammation caused by RA can cause fat to build up faster on artery walls and encourage artery-blocking clots, which restrict blood flow and can negatively affect your heart’s health. This study had also linked RA and atrial fibrillation, also known as an irregular heartbeat, which may increase your risk of stroke or heart failure.

When talking about your joints, inflammation is not the only risk to your heart health either. Some arthritis medications used to treat this inflammation can also be harmful, such as Prednisone and NSAIDs. Though Prednisone is used to lower inflammation, it can also lead to higher cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries.

How to Keep Your Joints Healthy

Mature Runner Checking Smart Watch. Checking Fitness Statistics On Smart Watch. Athletic mature woman monitoring her running performance on smartwatch

To avoid cardiovascular risks posed by joint inflammation or certain medications, it’s important to keep your body (and joints) in healthy shape, but where do you start? The following can help protect your joints and heart and increase your overall health:

  • Exercising
  • Eating healthy
  • Staying tobacco-free

Regular movement has been shown to reduce joint stiffness, reduce pain, and strengthen the muscles that surround our joints, while a healthy diet can give you the vitamins and minerals you need while maintaining a healthy weight.

Though some joint medication can be harmful to your health, others have shown to not only lower inflammation, but protect your heart as well. A 2020 study conducted by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the United Kingdom had found a direct link between drugs used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and a positive effect on the heart’s processes and metabolic profile.

Seek Professional Advice for Your Joint Health

When suffering from joint pain and inflammation, maintaining your health is a daily commitment, but one that your heart may thank you for in the near future.

For more information, or if you are experiencing joint pain, contact us today to request a consultation. We offer the most comprehensive orthopaedic care in northeast Ohio, helping you find the relief you need.