Risk of dying from heart disease is higher in people with osteoarthritis compared to others without the disease, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have investigated the link between osteoarthritis and mortality in an epidemiological study.
Using population registers, the researchers studied approximately 469 000 people living in Skåne, Sweden, who in 2003 was between 45 and 84 years old and followed them through to 2014. The group included 16 000 patients with knee arthritis, 9 000 with hip arthritis, 4 000 with wrist arthritis and 5 500 with other forms of osteoarthritis. They had all been diagnosed in 2003 or before.
This means that for every 100 000 inhabitants who have had osteoarthritis for 9-11 years, 40 more dies of cardiovascular diseases per year, compared with the population without osteoarthritis (in corresponding gender and age distribution).
The study did not investigate the mechanisms behind osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease, and the causal link is not fully known. However, Martin Englund has a theory on the reason behind the results.
"Osteoarthritis causes pain, which often results in people not being as mobile and becoming sedentary instead. Thus, there is a risk of weight gain, which we know leads to secondary diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. There are also other background factors in common for osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease. Inflammation can be a contributory cause of osteoarthritis, and can also lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease."
"Regardless, it's important to be physically active and keep body weight in check. In many countries there are special education programs for those suffering from osteoarthritis where you can get information on the disease as well as help and exercise advice", concludes Martin Englund.