Low Activity with Knee Arthritis May Increase the Risk of Heart Disease

05.27.2019 regenesis

How does knee arthritis impact your heart? Many people may believe that the two are distinct issues. However, like anything in the body, one impacts the other.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a bone and joint disease that occurs as the cartilage and bone that protects the joint begins to degenerate. Cartilage is a smooth, slippery surface that not only absorbs shock but also allows for a nice gliding motion as the joint moves, protecting the bones from bone-on-bone contact. Injuries, toxic substances (such as certain drugs), prior surgeries on the joint, and even wear and tear could be the culprit of cartilage and bone breakdown. As the cartilage degenerates, holes and bone spurs can form as they attempt to correct the joint instability that results.

Joint stiffness and inflammation are associated with arthritis as well as decreased function and activity levels. Osteoarthritis has also been associated with an increased risk of many other health problems, and one of these is heart disease. One study set out to determine why heart disease may develop within a few years of a diagnosis of knee arthritis. Let’s review.

The Link Between Heart Disease and Knee Arthritis? Poor Function and Low Activity

The new study followed patients with knee arthritis who did not initially have cardiovascular disease (CVD). With a known association between arthritis and CVD, the purpose of the study was to investigate the hypothesis that a decrease in function was the key link between the two. At six-plus years, 16% of the knee arthritis patients had developed CVD, and all patients completed three function-based measurements: a health assessment, chair stands, and walking eight feet.

The results? Many of the patients had decreases in at least one functional area; however, the CVD patients had significant decreases in all of the functional measurements. This led researchers to conclude that the association between knee arthritis and CVD was the decrease in function common in arthritis patients.

Does this mean if you are diagnosed with knee arthritis, you just have to live with poor function and the increased risk of heart disease? Not necessarily. Just because you have knee arthritis doesn’t mean you’re condemned to your couch for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean you should stop being active; in fact, in order to keep proper function in the knee, it’s important to maintain a good exercise routine.


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