No matter who you are, it is important to take care of your heart. If you are a woman with inflammatory arthritis and a certain thyroid problem, it is time to start taking special care of your heart.
Women with hypothyroidism (a thyroid gland that does not produce enough thyroxine) and inflammatory arthritis may be almost four times more likely to develop heart disease, compared to women who are otherwise healthy.
Over time, hypothyroidism can lead to a variety of health problems, including obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease.
Inflammatory arthritis - which includes rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis among others - is also associated with heart disease.
Knowing that both of these conditions may raise the risk of heart disease, Dr. Hennie G. Raterman, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues wanted to see if people with both hypothyroidism and inflammatory arthritis had an even greater risk of heart disease than those with one condition on its own.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism. For the purpose of this study, Dr. Raterman and colleagues were interested in the risk of heart disease in women.
The researchers found that women with inflammatory arthritis and hypothyroidism were 3.7 times more likely to develop heart disease, compared to those without either condition.
In comparison, women with hypothyroidism alone had 1.2 times the risk of developing heart disease. Women with inflammatory arthritis alone were 1.5 times more likely to develop heart disease.
According to the authors, these findings suggest that women with both of these conditions need to tightly manage their heart health.
"These data raise awareness on the coexistence of hypothyroidism and inflammatory arthritis and emphasize the importance of cardiovascular risk management in these patients, particularly when hypothyroidism and inflammatory arthritis coexist," the authors conclude.
The study, which involved 360,000 registered patients in the Netherlands, is published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.