Can Osteoarthritis Affect the Heart?

The heart is the core of your life. This is reasonable since this organ is very essential to pump blood so thus each cell in the body gets plenty of nutrients and oxygen. There are some health problems that can affect the health of your heart. How about osteoarthritis (OA) – can it cause heart problems?

image_illustration217Both OA and RA (rheumatoid arthritis) can be very bothersome since the affected joint can be painful or has limited range of motion. Other symptoms such as stiffness and swelling also can give impact on your daily routine. But overall, OA is relative easier to be treated than RA – though both forms of arthritis still have no cure!

The most common complications of OA

OA is also often familiar called as degenerative disease. The reason is due to it tends to get worse as the age. The good news, it is commonly considered as treatable condition though again currently it is incurable condition.

Some treatment options are available for this most common kind of arthritis. These include taking medicines as prescribed, stress management, physical therapy & exercise, some diet changes, and even the use of some complementary /alternative treatments (like acupuncture, Tai-chi, and yoga).

Unfortunately, OA is one of top leading causes of disability in many countries – see more in this section! Depending on the severity of the disease itself and how well you follow the treatment plan, the prognosis of OA can vary.

Can it affect the health of your heart?

In some cases, the symptoms can get worse. Joint stiffness and pain may become severe enough in which they can interfere with daily routines. Even some sufferers experience a significant loss in productivity and need to resign from their job.

In RA, it is thought that the abnormality of immune system is the major reason behind the disease. The autoimmune disorder in RA can put sufferers at high risk of other complications – one of them is the risk of heart problems.

Unlike RA, OA has nothing to do with the function of your immune system. Currently, experts believe that it has no direct link to heart problems. However OA is a joint disease that can put you at greater chance of choosing to become a sedentary individual.

The affected joint can decrease your motivation to keep active. Even you may think that keeping the affected joint in a bent position as long as possible is the best answer for coping. But this is actually not the real answer what you are looking for.

Having limited range of motion in the affected joint by OA doesn’t mean that joint doesn’t require any physical movement. Instead, keeping it in a bent position for too long will make that joint stuck in there and this can be bad for the strength of muscles around the joint.

See also the reasons of why you need to do regular exercise even though you have arthritis in here!

Though osteoarthritis doesn’t have a direct link in causing heart problems, but lack of physical activity is common in people with this joint disease. And becoming a physically inactive individual is bad for the heart in long term.

Another potential risk comes from some medicines used for OA. Anti-inflammatory medicines such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can increase the risk of the following conditions:

  1. Hypertension (high blood pressure), a common reason behind cardiovascular diseases.
  2. Heart attack.
  3. Stomach bleeding.
  4. And damage to the kidneys.

These risks are particularly true if NSAIDs are taken at high dose or used in long term! For this reason, doctors usually recommend the use of this medicine only for short-period of time with dose as lowest as possible.

Obesity and Age; same risk factors for both osteoarthritis and heart problems

While there is currently no direct link between OA and the health of your heart, but some risk factors of OA also can increase the risk of heart problems. These include the age and obesity.

Age

As mentioned before, the risk of having OA is equivalent with the age. The same thing goes for almost all heart problems. Therefore, the chance to find both problems in the same individual is pretty high.

Overweight /obesity

“The more pounds of fat /weight you gain excessively, the harder your heart works as well as you joint (especially your knee joints – the most essential weight-bearing joint of your body and the most commonly affected by OA).

An interesting fact, some foods high in calories that cause weight gain & obesity are also rich in inflammatory substance that can trigger more excess inflammation in the body.

For instance, saturated fats are not only top leading cause of raising bad cholesterol (LDL) in the bloodstream and high in calories, but also can make the inflammation in arthritis worse. See other bad foods for arthritis in here!