A Patient’s Guide to Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease

CreakyJoints launched this patient guide to educate people living with rheumatoid arthritis about their increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. 

About CreakyJoints

A Patient’s Guide to Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease was made possible with a grant from Myriad Genetics, Inc.

CreakyJoints® is a digital community for millions of arthritis patients and caregivers worldwide who seek education, support, advocacy, and patient-centered research. We represent patients in English and Spanish through our popular social media channels, our websites, and the 50-State Network, which includes more than 1,600 trained volunteer patient, caregiver, and health care activists.

Part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, CreakyJoints also has a patient-reported outcomes registry called ArthritisPower® (ArthritisPower.org), which includes tens of thousands of consented arthritis patients who track their disease while volunteering to participate in longitudinal and observational research. CreakyJoints publishes the popular “Raising the Voice of Patients” series, which offers downloadable patient-centered educational and navigational tools for managing chronic illness. It also hosts PainSpot (PainSpot.org), a digital risk-assessment tool for musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, and eRheum (eRheum.org), for telehealth and virtual-care support. All programming is free, always. For more information and to become a member, visit CreakyJoints.org.

Copyright © 1999 - 2021 CreakyJoints. All rights reserved. Part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

There are many different medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis and prevent disease progression. It’s important to understand the possible side effects. Download our RA drug side effects chart to learn about the common and serious side effects by various drug classes.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. CreakyJoints.org is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

People with rheumatoid arthritis have nearly a 50% greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The main reasons for the increased risk include:

Learn why you’re at increased risk, what you can do to lower it, and what tests you can take to measure and monitor your risk. 

A Patient’s Guide to Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease was made possible with a grant from Myriad Genetics, Inc.

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Step 1

Learn why you’re at increased risk for heart disease

Inflammation harms your heart and vessels

HDL (“good”) cholesterol doesn’t do its job as well

Rheumatoid arthritis medications can affect risk

Your doctor might not be keeping tabs 

Traditional heart disease risk factors get magnified  


Step 2

Learn how to lower your risk

A rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis does not mean you’re doomed to have heart problems. You are not powerless. In fact, there are many steps you can take to protect your heart and blood vessels. 


Step 3

Stay on top of your heart health

Part of the problem with monitoring heart health is that many rheumatoid arthritis patients only see a rheumatologist, yet rheumatologists often assume that managing cardiovascular issues are the domain of an internist or cardiologist.

Who is actually in charge of your heart health? In a word: you. 

Make it your job to see your internist at least annually. Talk to your rheumatologist about cardiovascular disease so that you get the tests you need to know your heart disease risk factors and keep your cardiovascular system healthy.

Tests Everyone with Rheumatoid Arthritis Needs 

  • RA disease activity assessment
  • Blood pressure test
  • Cholesterol test
  • Diabetes test
  • Obesity assessment
  • Overall heart disease risk assessment

Additional Heart Tests Worth Considering

  • Vectra Cardiovascular Risk
  • Carotid artery ultrasound

Explore Our Research On RA and Heart Health


Step 1

Start off by testing your heart health knowledge


Knowing more about how RA affects your heart — and what you can do to lower your risk — can keep you healthy and even save your life. 


Quiz: How Much Do You Know About RA and Heart Disease?