People who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are more likely to develop heart disease. They may also have high levels of inflammation that are usually measured by two specific tests:
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- C- reactive protein (CRP)
High levels of inflammation present because RA is the strongest risk factor for developing heart disease in patients with RA. The increased levels of inflammation can lead to an even higher risk of heart attack and stroke compared to people without RA.
People with RA often have traditional risk factors for heart disease such as:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
These risk factors should be treated alongside the inflammation triggered by RA so that the risk for heart disease is reduced. Your risk for cardiovascular disease is calculated based on different factors that include age, sex, and cholesterol levels among others. You will need a cholesterol test so that you can calculate with your doctor your cardiovascular risk.
Reducing your risk of heart disease is especially important if you have RA. PALS can answer your questions about how to do this.