Heart disease is a serious health condition. But, it can be made worse by an underlying condition, like rheumatoid arthritis. That's the focus of this week's Heart Health with Doctor Ramin Artang of Mercy Cardiology.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Today on "Heart Health" we're talking about the association between rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. Dr. Artang let's get it out of the way right up front, we're not talking about the kind of arthritis that we all get as we age. This is about a much rare condition. So, what is rheumatoid arthritis?"
"Rheumatoid arthritis is a rare connective tissue disease where your own immune cells attack your joints. Usually knees, feet, shoulders, and hands," Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology said.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "That's RA. Now, let's talk about heart disease and risk factors for heart disease.
"The typical risk factors for heart disease are smoking, high cholesterol, and family history," said Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology .
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Now that we know the two terms we're talking about, let's ask why the risk of heart disease is greater in those that have RA.
"It goes back to the mechanism of how you get coronary artery disease. This is a build up of cholesterol in the vessel wall. And, these are done by immune cells. These same immune calls are much more hyperactive in a person with chronic inflammatory disease, such as RA. This process is happening much faster," added Dr. Artang.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "And, it puts them at greater risk of having a heart attack. Let's talk prevention. What sorts of steps can you take to reduce the risk of heart attack if you have RA."
"These are the same preventative steps that you do for any other person at risk for a heart attack. You should have tighter blood pressure control, tighter cholesterol control, and better sugar control, and better lifestyle," said Dr. Artang.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "And, as a doctor, you would pay much closer attention to a patient with RA if they had issues with cholesterol or blood pressure."
"Especially if its a relatively younger person. I would not usually be so aggressive with putting them on medication. But, if the person has RA, I would be much more aggressive with tighter blood pressure control, and tighter cholesterol control," said Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology.
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