Autoimmune disorders are conditions that, for some reason, cause the immune system to go haywire and start attacking the body. There are more than 100 autoimmune disorders, with figures showing that at least 50 million individuals in America live with one or more autoimmune disorders. Of this number, an overwhelming majority are women.
We still don’t know the exact cause of autoimmune diseases, and scientists still haven’t developed a cure. A recent study sought to understand the association between autoimmune disease and negative outcomes post-heart attack.
The research found that people with autoimmune conditions are more likely to have a second heart attack, develop heart failure or die compared to people without autoimmune disorders.
We already know that autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Scientists posit that this is due to a couple of factors, highlighting that individuals with autoimmune diseases present traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Furthermore, the prevalence of autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation coupled with long-term steroid medication use in people with autoimmune disorders increase their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Amgad Mentais, an assistant professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and the study’s senior author, states that the team conducted the study to determine whether having an autoimmune disorder increased the risk of recurrent heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people who had already suffered a heart attack.
The researchers found robust evidence on the risk of adverse health events after a heart attack in people who had autoimmune diseases. They studied 1,654,862 Americans aged 65 years and older who were diagnosed with heart attacks between 2014 and 2019, using data obtained from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review File.
An estimated 3.6% (60,072) of these patients had been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition prior to being hospitalized with a heart attack diagnosis. Rheumatoid arthritis was the most prevalent condition among the patients followed by systemic lupus, systemic sclerosis, psoriasis and dermatomyositis/myositis.
The study revealed that patients with autoimmune disorders were 12% more likely to be hospitalized for heart failure, 6% more likely to require a further artery-opening procedure, 8% more likely to suffer a second heart attack, and 15% more likely to die due to any cause.
Mentais noted that people with autoimmune disorders may not have been healthy enough to undergo lifesaving procedures such as heart catheterization or bypass surgery.
Not all hope is lost for patients suffering from autoimmune conditions. Research is underway by entities such as Aditxt Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTX) to develop treatments that can alter the body’s immune system response so it doesn’t attack the body and worsen autoimmune conditions.
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