Arthritis sufferers are far more likely to develop fatal heart problems and strokes, a major study reveals today. It shows that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a 40 per cent higher risk of suffering from an irregular heartbeat which can lead to heart attacks and death.
They have also been found to be at 30 per cent greater risk from suffering strokes.
Arthritis lead can lead to stroke
Danish researchers believe the inflammation of joints that occurs in arthritis may cause the heart to beat irregularly - a condition known as atrial fibrillation.
This can lead to the formation of blood clots which in turn can trigger a stroke.
Around 400,000 people in England and Wales suffer from rheumatoid arthritis which causes debilitating pain and swelling in the joints.
Scientists from Copenhagen University studied more than 4 million people of whom 18,250 had rheumatoid arthritis over a period of five years.
Those with rheumatoid arthritis were 40 per cent at higher risk of atrial fibrillation and 30 per cent higher risk of strokes than the general public.
Doctors should be aware of risk
Although this seems like a big increase, the overall risk still of having heart problems or strokes still remains low.
In a group of 1,000 normal patients, six would likely suffer from atrial fibrillation in any given year while 5.7 would be likely to have a stroke.
But amongst a group of 1,000 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, 8 would be expected to have atrial fibrillation while 7.6 would be likely to have a stroke.
However the researchers - whose findings are published on the website BMJ.com - point out that doctors need to be aware of these heightened risks amongst their patients.
Read the artickle at The Daily Mail here