How arthritis affects your risk for heart attack and stroke

When you think of factors that increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, you probably think of smoking, high cholesterol and family history. But do you think of inflammatory arthritis?

You should! Inflammatory arthritis makes you 1.5 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than someone without arthritis!

Risk Factors

Inflammatory arthritis is considered an independent risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Some of the other risk factors for people ages 40 to 80 probably sound familiar to you:

  • High blood pressure (now defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 or a diastolic greater than 90)
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Physical deconditioning
  • Family history of premature coronary artery disease
  • Inflammatory arthritis

Calculate Risk

Of course, no one wants to suffer a heart attack or stroke, and fortunately, there are things you can do about it! Begin by calculating your overall risk. You will need to know your:

  • Cholesterol level including your good cholesterol, or HDL.
  • Blood pressure, both upper and lower numbers.

If you haven’t had a cholesterol screening with your primary care physician in the last year, ask your arthritis care provider to order one for you. You won’t need to fast beforehand.

Next, go to to calculate your risk. Then, multiply that number by 1.5 to account for your inflammatory arthritis.

If your final number is greater than a 7.5 percent risk of suffering a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years, your healthcare provider should strongly consider putting you on cholesterol-lowering medicine, if you’re not already on it.

You should also share your cholesterol level — including good and bad cholesterol — and your cardiovascular risk assessment with your arthritis care provider!

At Arthritis Center, we care about your heart, as well as your arthritis! So, please take the steps to live a long and healthy life — without a heart attack or stroke!

Assess your cardiovascular risk at

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