Although pain, swelling, and joint tissue damage are the common osteoarthritis hallmarks, the joints of our body are not the only parts to be affected due to this disorder. Medical research shows that heart risks are also pertinent to the condition of osteoarthritis along with degenerative damaged joints. Studies show that people suffering from osteoarthritis are likely to develop cardiovascular or heart disease or heart failures and the probability of this occurrence is more for people with osteoarthritis problems in their knee and hip joints.
Why are Osteoarthritis and Heart Disease Linked?
- Inflammation: Although osteoarthritis is primarily a tissue degenerative disorder, the cause behind tissue degeneration is mostly inflammation and according to prominent scientific studies, inflammation leads to a greater risk of heart / cardiovascular diseases.
- Aging: Growing older makes it risky for people to develop both osteoarthritis and heart diseases. The artery layers thicken with age and this can lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart damage. Joints degenerate with years of wearing and small injuries.
- Lack of exercise: Physical activity is very important for a healthy heart and body joints. Research shows that people suffering from Osteoarthritis, who don’t often indulge in exercising, are at a greater risk of having heart diseases.
- Obesity: Obesity is a risk for both osteoarthritis and cardiovascular or heart disease. Excess body weight puts stress on both the joints and heart, causing damage in a progressive manner. Fat cells also produce inflammatory chemicals which harm the body joints, blood vessels, and the heart.
- Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol, and these factors increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. Metabolic syndromes and osteoarthritis often go hand in hand and studies show that around 60% of osteoarthritis patients have these syndromes.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, relieve osteoarthritis joint pain but also increase cardiovascular risks.
How Can Osteoarthritis Patients Protect Your Heart?
- Sticking to a healthy weight: Please ask your doctor regarding your ideal weight and BMI. Accordingly, make a diet and do your share of exercises to stick to a healthy weight.
- Staying fit & active: Arthritis-friendly mild exercises like swimming to burn calories and stay fit can be done without any rigorous stress to one’s joints.
- Managing your health checkup: It is advised to consult doctors for regular checkup of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. If their levels are high, doctors should suggest ways to normalize these levels for a healthy heart and healthy joints.
- Limit use of NSAIDs: For pain managements, NSAID dose should be limited and taken with prior consultation. It is better to go for mechanical non-drug types of pain-relieving mechanisms like applying ice or heat.
- Regenerative therapy: If the arthritis pain is not under control and conventional therapies are not working out, maybe it is time to try out alternative medicine or regenerative therapies.