Both stroke and arthritis and major health issues facing the American public. In 2020 alone, nearly 160,000 people in the United States succumbed to stroke, while arthritis is believed to affect over 60 million Americans. What may come as a bit of a surprise, however, is that these two conditions are linked.
Putting in the Work
This was the recent conclusion of a group of Chinese-based researchers, who reviewed dozens of previous studies on this topic. Specifically, they focused on the possible connections between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and stroke.
For this report, the authors tried to filter out any research that could be misleading. In keeping with this goal, they only selected prior studies that factored in its participants’ age and biological sex. Furthermore, they also picked research that made sure to adjust its results based on the common risk factors for stroke; this list includes hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcoholism and obesity. High cholesterol and a lack of physical activity were also considered by these reports.
So what did all this work reveal? In short, compared to those without this condition, those living with arthritis were 36 percent more likely to experience stroke. The percentage increase varied depending on the type of arthritis in question; having rheumatoid arthritis increased stroke risk by 38 percent, whereas those living with psoriatic arthritis had a 33 percent elevated risk. For those with ankylosing spondylitis or gout, this figure stood at 49 and 40 percent, respectively.
Interestingly enough, this relationship was not found with regards to osteoarthritis, the most common form of this condition. Unlike the other forms of arthritis mentioned above, osteoarthritis is not considered to be a type of inflammatory arthritis.
The team argues that their work represents “the most comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of published cohort studies to evaluate the stroke risk in arthritis.” The journal PLOS ONE published the team’s research in March 2021.