Osteoarthritis and Heart Disease

sharma-obesity-knee-osteoarthritis1Given that osteoarthritis often severely limits physical activity, I have long suspected that individuals with joint problems should be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Now, Mushfiqur Rahman and colleagues from the University of British Columbia, in a paper published in BMJ Open report a rather strong relationship between osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Based on cross-sectional data from the nationally representative Canadian Community Health Survey, about 40,000 self-reported subjects with osteoarthritis were matched 1-1 by participants without joint problems of similar age, sex and CCHS cycles.

After adjusting for sociodemographic status, obesity, physical activity, smoking status, fruit and vegetable consumption, medication use, diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, individuals with osteoarthritis were significantly more likely to have angina and congestive heart failure (in both men and women), and for myocardial infarction (in women).

As this risk remained elevated even after adjusting for risk factors including physical activity, the question remains whether or not osteoarthritis and heart disease may in fact be causally linked by other mechanisms including chronic systemic inflammation.

As clinicians, we should certainly be aware to screen our patients with osteoarthritis for the presence of additional cardiometabolic risk factors and occult heart disease.

Frankfurt, Germany