What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis And What Causes It?
Rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA, is an autoimmune, inflammatory disease that affects the joints. While its causes are still unclear, RA occurs when the body?s immune system malfunctions and attacks the healthy tissues of the synovium, or lining of joints, by mistake. RA triggers inflammation that quickly flares and causes severe pain and swelling in your joints. Joints can break down and become very difficult to bend or use. RA may affect other organs such as the eyes, lungs, heart or skin. 
The cause of RA is not yet fully understood, although doctors do know that an abnormal response of the immune system plays a leading role in the inflammation and joint damage that occurs. It is unknown as to why the immune system goes awry, however, there is scientific evidence that genes, hormones and environmental factors are involved.
A Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Heart Disease
Generally, patients with rheumatoid arthritis have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies. According to several studies from the Mayo Clinic, evidence shows a direct link between rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.
Dr. Eric Matteson, chair of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic, believes people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other chronic inflammatory conditions are at a much higher risk of heart disease. In fact, people with RA have up to twice the risk of heart disease and development of heart failure, according to their 2013 study published in the American Heart Journal. 
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Your Heart
RA-related inflammation causes blood vessels to narrow, which results in the formation of plaque, which can block arteries and make it hard for blood to flow. Pieces of plaque can break off and go into the bloodstream, where they may clog smaller vessels, leading to a heart attack or stroke. 
Protect Your Heart
An active lifestyle, balanced nutrition and good control of your body-wide inflammation can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Talk with Pain and Spine Specialists of Maryland about what options may be best for you. Our integrative medicine approach is supported by years of research, allowing for the use of numerous forms of therapy aimed at treating the body as a whole to help you reach optimal health and healing. Also, for preventative measures, or to learn more about our Integrative Approach visit Shakthi Health & Wellness Center.