There is a greater risk of dying young from myocardial infarction in young adults with rheumatic diseases, according to Everyday Health.
Inflammation is the root cause of cardiovascular diseases. Much to the misfortune of those who suffer from rheumatic diseases like psoriasis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, and rheumatoid arthritis, adds to the misery.
What Are Rheumatic Diseases
Rheumatic diseases are chronic, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases, more commonly called arthritis. They are painful and progressive, i.e., they get worse with time.
Early diagnosis and treatment may slow its progression. They are more common in women than in men. These usually show signs during the prime age between early adulthood and middle age.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), there are more than 100 rheumatic diseases.
Moreover, rheumatic diseases are autoimmune, which means the body’s immune system mistakes healthy body cells and attacks them. In this case, they attack joints, muscles, bones, and organs.
As per the American College of Rheumatology, an estimated 54 million adults in the United States of all ages and genders are currently living with rheumatic disease.
More than 1 in 4 adults with arthritis report severe joint pain, and around 24 million adults are limited in their activities due to arthritis, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Gout affects approximately 9.2 million adults in the United States. It is the most common inflammatory disease among men.
According to the CDC, osteoarthritis affects over 32.5 million U.S. adults.
The causes for the most common rheumatic diseases are unknown. However, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that researchers believe some or all of the following may play a role:
- Genes and family history
- Lifestyle choices such as being overweight
- Nervous system problems
- Metabolic problems
- Too much wear and tear and stress on a joint or joints
- Environmental triggers
- Certain hormones
Some types of rheumatic diseases are more prevalent in women, e.g., lupus. Rheumatic diseases have no known treatment; they are incurable.
However, therapies can help to manage them. These therapies reduce pain and swelling in the affected areas. They also help in increasing the range of motion.
Some of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid diseases include:
- Joint Pain
- Aches and pains, often but not always involving your joints
- Limited range of motion
- Feelings of tiredness or fatigue
- Malaise or general feelings of being unwell
- Weight loss
- Swelling of a joint or joints
- Joint stiffness that lasts for at least one hour in the early morning
- Chronic pain or tenderness in a joint or joints
The autoimmune diseases can affect other parts of the body other than the joints. Each type of rheumatic disease affects different areas of the body and shows unique symptoms.
What Is Myocardial Infarction
Any blockage in the flow of blood to the heart causes a heart attack. The blockage is most often a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries)
This plaque eventually breaks away and forms a clot. This interrupts the blood flow to the heart. This interruption can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, can be fatal. However, with advancements in technology, treatment has improved over the years.
Who Does It Affect The Most
Those who have more risk factors are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. There are:
- Major risk factors: Increasing age, Male gender, Heredity (including race), etc
- Modifiable risk factors: Tobacco smoke, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Physical inactivity, Diabetes
- Contributing risk factors: Stress, Alcohol, Diet, and nutrition
Research has proven major risk factors significantly increase the risk of heart attacks. Factors that can be changed, treated, or controlled are modifiable risk factors.
Those factors that play a part in increasing risk are contributing factors. However, their significance is yet to be determined.
Before they are fifty, people who experience a heart attack have a higher mortality rate if they have systemic inflammatory diseases. According to the article in Everyday Health, known contributors to heart disease risks are rheumatic conditions.
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and AHA updated their guidelines in 2018. In this update, they state systemic inflammatory conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and even HIV are “risk enhancers” for CVD.
A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has found that people with systemic inflammatory diseases are at greater risk for future adverse cardiovascular events if they experience a heart attack at a young age.
Higher levels of inflammation in patients with the immune disease produce a higher risk for developing heart disease – typically heart attack and stroke – along with an increased risk for mortality.
Not only myocardial infarction, but some rheumatic diseases also increase mortality rates for patients with certain cancers.
This was found in a study, ‘Survival rates of cancer patients with and without rheumatic disease: a retrospective cohort analysis.’ in 2016.
Patients with lung or breast cancers who also had rheumatoid arthritis and dermatomyositis had a higher mortality rate. In comparison, patients with lung cancer who also had systemic sclerosis had a higher mortality rate.
As a matter of fact, rheumatic diseases are autoimmune; however, their root cause is still unknown.
The next field of study would be finding the cause and also trying to find whether the preventive therapies for rheumatic diseases have a positive impact in decreasing the risks of CVD.
Another area of interest is to find if treating the inflammation can lower the risk of developing any future complications.