Rheumatoid arthritis is a cardiovascular risk factor

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with a 1.5 fold increase in heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

While obesity, hypertension,  and diabetes, common associated diseases in RA patients, may play a role, the more likely explanation is the chronic inflammatory process found in RA.

In fact, Joan Bathon, chief of rheumatology at New-York Presbyterian Columbia hearthas published work showing that heart muscle mass is 20% less in RA patients.

Her theory is that RA causes microvascular disease and damage to the heart, much like diabetes does.

Identification of high risk patients is a priority because if these findings prove to be true, it may alter the way RA is managed.

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