What is Arthritis?
Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. But the term is often used to refer to any of the more than 100 diseases that affect the joints – where two or more bones meet to allow movement. Currently, there are 46 million people diagnosed with arthritis in the United States. The most common types of arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis – a condition in which the joint cartilage – the tough, smooth, shock-absorbing tissue that covers the ends of the bones where they meet – breaks down, causing pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis – a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the thin membrane (synovium) that lines the joints, causing pain, swelling, inflammation, redness, heat and, if not stopped, joint destruction.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2009, 785,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack. Heart disease is a term that encompasses an number of specific heart conditions, the most common of which is coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack.
Are Arthritis and Heart Disease Related?
Arthritis and heart diseases often occur simultaneously. In fact, a recent study found that arthritis affects 57 percent of adults with heart disease. And in the case of patients with RA, the incidence of heart disease is much higher. RA is actually a separate risk factor for heart disease just like high cholestrol, diabetes and high blood pressure.
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