If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis, it probably seems like you already have to suffer far more than anyone should, thanks to the severe joint pain, swelling, and decreased quality of life that go hand-in-hand with the disease.
Yet, to add insult to injury, rheumatoid arthritis also puts you at higher risk for heart and blood vessel disease and death.
In fact, people with rheumatoid arthritis are a whopping 60 percent more likely to die from a heart problem than those without the often debilitating condition.
Well, unfortunately, it’s been found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis can have high levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine in their blood.
And, scientific studies have proven that high homocysteine levels are linked to a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
While this may seem like an un-winnable battle, there is good news…
Brand new research has not only discovered why your homocysteine levels can go up when you have rheumatoid arthritis but it has also found a natural solution to this exact issue.
Overcoming homocysteine imbalance
The study, performed by experts at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, followed 683 rheumatoid arthritis patients over a course of 17 years, measuring their folate levels.
Folate is a B vitamin that is essential in the creation of new cells and has a known homocysteine-lowering effect. Because of this, the researchers theorized that it could be behind the connection between rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.
And, they were right!
The team found that patients with the lowest levels of folate (below 4.3 nanograms per milliliter) had a 50 percent higher risk of dying from heart or blood vessel disease than patients with higher folate levels.
In fact, the researchers say these results shed light on why having rheumatoid arthritis makes you more susceptible to heart and vascular disease and cardiovascular death.
“Our study is the first to show an association between serum folate and increased cardiovascular mortality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” said Kalyani Sonawane, Ph.D., an assistant professor at UT Health School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “It’s particularly important for patients taking disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to understand this increased risk.”
Why is it more important that you pay attention to your folate levels if you’re taking anti-rheumatic drugs?
Well, the team says that increasing homocysteine levels may be caused by those medications since drugs like methotrexate deplete your folate levels.
Upping your folate for heart protection
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, especially if you take disease-modifying drugs, it’s vital that you increase your folate levels in order to protect your heart and blood vessels.
You can find folic acid in numerous foods, including:
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
However, the researchers say that people with rheumatoid arthritis shouldn’t rely on folate-rich food alone since too many parts of the average American diet also raise homocysteine levels (like red meat and coffee).
In addition to lowering your intake of these homocysteine-linked foods and eating plenty of fruits and veggies, you should take a daily folic acid supplement for increased protection.
So, don’t let rheumatoid arthritis steal your heart health as well as your joint health. Start adding folate to your diet today.
Editor’s Note: Recently, the strongest evidence yet that tens of thousands of costly stent procedures and bypass operations each year are unnecessary for people with stable heart disease was presented to the American Heart Association. In fact, study participants who had a procedure were more likely to suffer a heart problem or die over the next year than those treated with medicines alone. Before you submit to any heart treatment, read this FREE report…