Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful, disabling and incurable disease of the joints. But what many RA patients don’t know is that it also significantly raises their risk of a heart attack.
A new study by researchers in Mexico found that one quarter of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and no prior symptoms of heart disease could have a surprise heart attack. Their risk was higher even without cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and diabetes.
“The condition nearly doubles the risk of a heart attack but most patients never knew they had heart disease and were never alerted about their cardiovascular risk," said Adriana Puente, MD, a cardiologist at the National Medical Center in Mexico City.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s own defenses attack joint tissues, causing swelling, inflammation and bone erosion. About 1% of adults worldwide suffer from RA.
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