How Are Heart Disease and RA Linked?

Because you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it’s extra important to take care of your heart. RA makes you more likely to get heart disease or have a heart attack. But you can lower your chances.

Take these simple steps:

  • If heart disease runs in your family, tell your doctor.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat protein (like poultry, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy), and whole grains.
  • Limit salt and saturated fats.
  • Avoid foods made with trans fats. (Check the label for “partially hydrogenated” ingredients.)
  • Get plenty of physical activity. Ask your doctor if there are any limits on what you can do.
  • Keep up with your checkups and tests for conditions that affect your heart, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.


The Inflammation Connection

Inflammation is a major part of RA. It's also linked to heart disease and the chance of having a heart attack.

Some experts think the inflammation in RA may raise inflammation throughout the body, including in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to your heart.

Ask your doctor if your RA medicines will make you more likely to get heart disease. Ask what you can do to manage that risk.

Your doctor can help you decide if your medications and doses are right for your heart health. If you have other conditions that raise your odds of having heart disease, such as high cholesterol, she may prescribe other drugs. These could include statins, which lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 19, 2019



American College of Rheumatology: "Rheumatoid Arthritis."

Arthritis Foundation: "Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease."

Arthritis Today: "RA and Heart Disease: What You Need to Know."

The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: "Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment."

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