From Spinal Pain to Heart Disease

Ankylosing spondylitis patients have increased risk of heart disease and stroke

(RxWiki News) Ankylosing spondylitis is a disease that causes inflammation in the spine. On top of dealing with the pain, patients with ankylosing spondylitis may need to pay more attention to their heart health.

Patients with ankylosing spondylitis are more likely to have heart-related problems, compared to people without the disease. They are also more likely to be hospitalized for these health problems.

"Speak with a cardiologist if you have ankylosing spondylitis."

Adrian R. Levy, Ph.D., M.Sc., of Oxford Outcomes in British Columbia and Dalhousie University, and colleagues wanted to see if patients with ankylosing spondylitis faced a greater risk for various kinds of heart disease and stroke.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a painful disease characterized by inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones. Over time, the affected spinal bones can fuse together.

Although it is not common, some patients have been known to have problems with the aortic heart valve as well as heart rhythm problems.

For their study, Dr. Levy and colleagues measured ankylosing spondylitis patients' risk for heart diseases such aortic valvular heart disease, nonaortic valvular heart disease, ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, "other" cardiovascular diseases, and cerebrovascular disease (stroke).

The researchers found that ankylosing spondylitis patients have a higher risk for all of these heart diseases and health problems, compared to people without the disease.

Ankylosing spondylitis patients had a 58 percent greater risk of aortic and nonaortic valvular heart disease, compared to the general population. They were 37 percent more likely than the general population to have ischemic heart disease, and 34 percent more likely to have congestive heart failure. They had a 36 percent greater risk of "other" cardiovascular diseases, and a 25 percent greater risk of stroke, compared to those without the disease.

Patients with ankylosing spondylitis were also 31 percent more likely to be hospitalized for all these heart-related problems.

Young patients had an especially higher risk for all these problems.

This study does not explain why ankylosing spondylitis patients have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. However, it does show that patients with the disease may need to pay more attention to their heart health.

The full results of the study are published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism

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Review Date: 
November 17, 2011