Possible link between shoulder problems and heart disease risk

In the Journals

Published: February, 2017

A study published online Dec. 20, 2016, by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found a connection between heart disease risk factors (such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes) and shoulder problems (such as joint pain or rotator cuff tendinitis or tear).

Researchers examined 1,226 laborers like cabinetmakers and air-bag manufacturers, and found that those with the most heart risk factors were almost five times more likely to also have shoulder joint pain or rotator cuff issues compared with those who had no such risk factors. Even those with moderate risk factors were one-and-a-half to three times more likely to experience shoulder pain.

The workers' movements, such as pulling, pushing, and twisting, were monitored in terms of repetition and difficulty. Longer work periods and more physically demanding jobs did not seem to correlate with shoulder problems, according to the researchers.

It's not clear how heart disease might relate to shoulder pain, or vice versa, but lead researcher Dr. Kurt Hegmann of the University of Utah School of Medicine notes that the area around a rotator cuff tear, for example, has poor blood supply, which suggests risk factors may impair blood flow.

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