Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Health: Things You Need to Know

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Health

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the autoimmune form of Arthritis that can affect more than just joints. This can also affect other organs, which may result in heart problems. 

However, because you have Rheumatoid Arthritis does not mean you will inevitably have issues with the heart. You can take various steps to keep the heart healthy and avoid developing heart disease. 

Autoimmune means the immune system overreacts and may attack otherwise healthy cells by mistake. When that happens, it can cause chronic swelling and inflammation, leading to pain and deformity in the affected areas. 

How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Heart Health?

Chronic inflammation from Rheumatoid Arthritis may affect the areas of the body besides the joints. This can also lead to lung, heart, and eye problems. 

Proteins called cytokines are linked with the growth and activity of the other immune system cells. All these proteins are responsible for how RA attacks the joints and damages the blood vessels in cardiovascular disease. 

Reasons Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Inflammation is not only the linking factor between heart disease and RA. Many other risk factors for RA are the same as the other risk factor of heart disease. 

1. High Blood Pressure

If you have RA, the blood pressure is likely higher due to lack of exercise, less elastic arteries, and certain medications that treat RA, like steroids. Inflammation is also linked with higher blood pressure. People with RA may have ten times the amount of inflammation than those with no sign of RA. 

2. Obesity

Obesity may be linked with the risk of developing RA. The researchers need to find out for sure how these two are linked. The Arthritis Foundation notes that sore joints are associated with RA, which may make this hard to exercise, and the lack of exercise can cause weight gain.

3. Lipid paradox

RA can affect the fats in the blood in a striking way. People with RA usually have the following:

  • Low levels of bad cholesterol
  • High level of triglycerides
  • Low levels of HDL or good cholesterol

Low LDL levels are associated with heart health, so having too much good cholesterol and high triglycerides may enhance the risk of heart disease. 

4. Smoking

People more likely to smoke may develop RA than people who do not smoke. If you smoke and have RA, you are more likely to have severe RA than someone who does not smoke. 

Types of Cardiovascular Problems in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis may affect the risk of many types of cardiovascular issues, including:

1. Heart Attack

A heart attack happens when the piece of plaque ( fatty deposit in the arteries) brakes off from the clot and blocks the blood flow to the heart, so that it can not get the oxygen it needs. 

A heart attack is also known as a myocardial infarction, which happens when the part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood. 

2. Stroke

This is called a brain attack; a stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, mostly due to a blood clot.

3. Pulmonary Embolism 

It is a blood clot in the lungs that can be fatal. People diagnosed with RA are significantly more likely than any other person to develop a pulmonary embolism. 

4. Heart Failure

Heart failure is a chronic condition that occurs when the heart is not strong enough to pump effectively, which makes you feel weak. Daily activities can become very challenging. Having RA can make you twice as likely as others to develop heart failure. 

5. Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease happens when the arteries leading to the heart become clogged with too much plaque. If the piece of plaque breaks off, that can form a clot, block blood flow to the heart, and that can cause a heart attack. This is the most familiar type of heart disease. 

6. Atrial Fibrillation 

This is an irregular and generally rapid heartbeat; atrial fibrillation can put you at risk of having a stroke. People with RA are 60 percent more likely than the general population to have such a condition. 

Read Also: Heart Failure – Symptoms, Causes, and Medication

How to Reduce the Risk

Even though people living with RA have an increased risk of heart disease, the medical guidelines in the United States do not have any specific recommendation to reduce heart disease, in case you have RA. Even if RA increases the risk of heart disease, you may work with the doctor to lower the risk.

One of the easiest ways to save yourself from heart disease related to RA is taking the medications the doctor prescribes to control the inflammation. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs can reduce the inflammation associated with RA, and that can reduce the risk of heart disease.

You may also make lifestyle changes to help lower heart disease risk. Bulat Pharmaceuticals suggest the following tips to reduce the risk of heart disease:

  • Having a balanced diet of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.
  • Balancing the moderating the weight
  • Avoiding smoking or quitting
  • Taking the medication prescribed by the doctor to prevent heart disease, like statins
  • Getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. 
  • Managing health conditions like RA, which raises the risk of heart. 

List of Medication for Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is the most common type of Arthritis, an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. This occurs when the body. Here are the medications options for RA are mentioned below

  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors
  • Acetaminophen
  • tofacitinib
  • baricitinib
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Aspirin
  • Tropical capsaicin
  • Diclofenac sodium topical gel

API manufacturers are trying their best to develop some new and revolutionary medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis. 


RA increases the risk of developing heart disease due to inflammation and shared risk factors. Even though there is increased risk, you may take steps to lower the chances of developing heart disease even though you are living with RA. For any other queries regarding Rheumatoid Arthritis, you can directly reach out to Bulat Pharmaceuticals. Our team is here to solve all your queries. 


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