People who suffer from the painful condition of rheumatoid arthritis may have their risk of heart attacks doubled. A recent study was published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology that indicates that there may be a way for people who have rheumatoid arthritis to decrease their risks of heart attack, and still manage to reduce some of the pain and swelling associated with the disease.

The study on rheumatoid arthritis

The study followed fifteen thousand people in Finland, who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Data was collected concerning the medications that the people used to control their rheumatoid arthritis, and their increased risks of having a heart attack.
The patients in the study who were taking glucocorticoids to control their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms had an increase in their risk of dying from a coronary event.
Patients who had the type of rheumatoid arthritis that is known as rheumatoid factor or rheumatoid positive had increased risks of dying from a heart attack.
Patients who were taking methotrexate had a slightly increased risk of dying from a heart attack, but a far less risk that the other two groups of patients.

What this means for doctors

Doctors who treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be aware that the treatment they prescribe can greatly affect the patient, not only in the relief of their arthritis symptoms, but in other areas of their physical well-being.
Steroids have for a long time been the “go to” treatment that doctors used to treat the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Steroids act very quickly to relieve inflammation. The problem is that while the steroids reduce some of the joint swelling and pain, they increase the patients’ risk of weight gain, bone loss, and worsening diabetes by making blood sugar levels hard to control.

Things you can do to improve your heart health

There are a lot of things that people with rheumatoid arthritis can do to reduce their risks of heart attacks. Some of these things include:
• Reducing your body mass index to lower than twenty five. It can be very hard for some people to lose that much weight, so do not discourage if you do not get that small. Simply strive to lower your weight and that will increase your heart health.
• You need to increase the number of fruits, vegetables, and natural organic foods you eat. You need to reduce the amount of sodium you take in, reduce the amount of fats you eat, and reduce your sugar consumptions. This means eliminating most processed meats, and foods that contain high fructose corn syrup.
• Smoking increases inflammation so it is bad for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and for heart health.
• Lower your cholesterol. Lower cholesterol means less plaque build-up in your arteries, and it also means the plaque that is in your arteries will be less likely to move and block the blood flow completely.
• See your doctor regularly. Chest pains, neck and back pain, profuse sweating, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue are all signs of a heart attack, but sometimes you have no warning. Regular check-ups can help you know if you are in danger.