Heart Disease and Arthritis in Missouri

Do you know what the leading cause of death in Missouri is?  What about the leading cause of disability?  If you answered heart disease (leading cause of death) and arthritis (disability), you are correct.  With these chronic health conditions being very impactful on their own in Missouri, it’s very important that we take a look at the impact they have together.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. 

49% of Americans have at least one of these three heart disease risk factors.   In Missouri, 34.3% of Missouri adults had been told they have high blood pressure (2011, BRFSS).  40.4% indicated having high cholesterol, and 25% of Missouri adults indicated smoking cigarettes every day or some days (2011, BRFSS). 

Nationally, 49% of the adult population surveyed indicated having both heart disease and arthritis.  Missouri exceeds that number by quite a bit.  In Missouri, adults who indicated having arthritis was 64.1% of the population of adults with heart disease.*  This follows the trend from last week’s articles on the Impact of Obesity on Arthritis and National Diabetes Awareness Month: Missouri Focus on Diabetes and Arthritis (in Missouri, more persons with diabetes or who are obese also have arthritis than national numbers).

If you have arthritis and heart disease or a risk factor for heart diseases, you may have additional barriers to improved health.  Specifically, arthritis can be a barrier to engaging in physical activity if your joints are causing you pain.  This physical activity may not be anything “extra”, but instead may be a usual activity like climbing stairs in your home or to your apartment, walking to the end of your driveway to get your mail, or carrying groceries into your home.  Having more than one chronic health problem (such as arthritis and heart disease) can further complicate participation in regular activities.  26.8% of adults in the United States who had both arthritis and heart disease indicated limitations in regular activities as a result of their arthritis (CDC). 

One way to combat limits in your usual activities due to arthritis or heart disease is to participate in self-management education courses.  If you are a Missourian who has heart disease (or a risk factor for heart disease) and has arthritis, physical activity can help to reduce the rate and occurrence of these health problems.  The Missouri Arthritis and Osteoporosis Program (MAOP) and its Regional Arthritis Centers (RACs) offer both self-management and physical activity programs throughout the state of Missouri.  Click here to find a class near you.

As always, there are lots of resources available to persons who have chronic health conditions.  If you specifically struggle with arthritis and heart disease, consider taking a look at:


  • There are also general resources available for individuals who are caregivers of persons with arthritis and heart disease.


*Missouri’s numbers were taken from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey, 2011.  National numbers were provided from 2010-2012 data from the National Health Interview Survey.

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