Arthritis Is Tied to Heart Disease Risk

Arthritis Is Tied to Heart Disease Risk


Having osteoarthritis may increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Osteoarthritis, the painful degenerative disease of the joint cartilage and bones that progresses with age, affects about 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women over 60. There is no cure.

Researchers studied 469,177 residents of southern Sweden who ranged in age from 45 to 84. They tracked their health for up to 11 years and identified 29,189 patients with osteoarthritis of the knees, hips, hands and other joints. The study is in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

For most cases of osteoarthritis, there was no association with causes of death. But the scientists found that people with knee or hip osteoarthritis were almost 20 percent more likely than the rest of the population to die of chronic heart disease or heart failure. The risk increased with the duration of the disease, and was most apparent after nine to 11 years.

“Our finding makes sense,” said the lead author, Martin Englund, a professor at Lund University in Sweden, “because when you have pain, you’re inactive, and this inactivity, along with obesity, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.”

If you have osteoarthritis, “you have to learn how to move,” Dr. Englund added, “and to keep moving without injury. Exercise is really important in treating this illness. There is no quick fix. We have no wonder drug.”

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