For some time, doctors have observed that some diseases seem to come in pairs. The known link between migraines and cardiovascular disease is one example of these shadow diseases.
Further linked ailments are being investigated, and researchers are zeroing in on why some diagnoses appear to travel in pairs. In some cases, one disease creates damage that causes the second illness. In others, troublesome genes or poor lifestyle behaviours may trigger one problem, and then the other.
Some likely cardiovascular ‘shadow diseases’ include:
- High Blood Pressure and Diabetes – A Harvard Medical School study suggests that elevated blood pressure can double your risk of developing diabetes. More surprising, the risk of diabetes goes up if your blood pressure increases over time – even if it stays under the hypertension threshold.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis and Heart Disease – As if this painful and debilitating condition is not bad enough all by itself, researchers now report that within the first 10 years of being diagnosed with RA, your risk of having a heart attack almost doubles compared to those who don’t have the diagnosis. We know that, just as in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation is linked with heart disease and the risk of heart attack. According to the American College of Rheumatology, the inflammation with RA may cause higher levels of inflammation throughout the rest of the body. This inflammation can trigger plaque in the coronary arteries to form blood clots. Over time, this plaque can build up, rupture, and block blood flow to the heart.
- Migraine and Stroke or Heart Attack – Another Harvard Medical School study warns that those who average one migraine a month are 50% more likely to have a heart attack than non-migraine sufferers. Weekly migraines are linked with three times the risk of having a stroke compared with non-sufferers.
- Pre-eclampsia and Heart Attack – Pregnancy complications like preeclampsia typically go away after pregnancy, but such diagnoses may well be an early indicator of underlying heart conditions that may simmer for decades. In fact, studies now show that pregnant women who develop preeclampsia have more than twice the risk of having a heart attack or stroke later in life.
- Psoriasis and Heart Attack – University of Pennsylvania researchers followed half a million people for five years and found that the risk of a cardiac emergency was related to their psoriasis, and specifically to how serious the outbreak. They determined that serious cases of the skin ailment could mean a more than doubled heart attack risk.
- Metabolic Syndrome and Kidney Stones – The American Journal of Kidney Diseases reported that the risks of developing painful kidney stones go up 70% for those who have three of the five possible traits of metabolic syndrome, a serious health condition associated with heart attacks, diabetes, and even early death. The five traits are: excess abdominal fat, high blood triglycerides, low HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and impaired glucose tolerance.
Learn more about how to address these and other potential shadow disease couplings.