Autoimmune

5 Serious Conditions You’re More At Risk For If You Have An Autoimmune Disease

risk of serious conditions if you have an autoimmune disease
If you’re one of the 24 million Americans who has an autoimmune disease, then you’re probably well acquainted with some of the many unpleasant effects: pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, stomach upset, swollen joints, skin lesions, and more. As if these woes weren’t bad enough, your compromised immune system also makes you more likely to develop other serious health problems. (See if a toxic liver is behind your weight gain with Rodale’s Heal Your Whole Body.) The good news is that it may be possible to lower your risk—if you know what to look for. Here are 5 that ought to be on your radar.

HEART DISEASE

heart disease

Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis aren’t just hard on your joints. Widespread inflammation weakens your heart muscle and contributes to hardening of the arteries. In fact, heart disease is one of the top killers of people with lupus. “Lupus is well known for affecting organs like the kidneys and lungs, but any organ is vulnerable,” says Noel Rose, MD, PhD, chair of the scientific advisory board for the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).

Protect yourself: There are several steps you can take to lower your heart disease risk, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a sensible diet, and exercising regularly. “Anyone with an autoimmune disease should definitely keep an eye on their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, as these also damage the heart,” says Rose.

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