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Mayo Clinic cardiologists and rheumatologists are working collaboratively to provide better care for patients. The Cardio-Rheumatology Clinic is pioneering new diagnostic tools and breaking the dangerous connection between heart disease and rheumatic autoimmune disorders.
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Patients with rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, experience many symptoms.
"These patients have a lot of joint aches and pains. They can be fatigued and uncomfortable," says Dr. Rekha Mankad, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
Those symptoms also can be a sign of heart disease, which might go unrecognized or undertreated. Rheumatologic patients are at increased risk of heart problems compared to the average person. Traditional risk factors play a role, but the other contributing factor is the rheumatologic disease itself.
"We know when we look at plaque that develops in heart arteries that one of the reasons plaque develops is actually due to inflammation," says Dr. Mankad. "So it makes sense that these two conditions should be discussed together."
And that's happening at the Cardio-Rheumatology Clinic: Mayo cardiologists and rheumatologists teaming together to diagnose, educate and prevent heart disease in those patients.
"They can be very proactive to recognize ways to decrease that risk and that they have the potential to control their disease with the rheumatologist but also take preventive measures to improve their heart health," says Dr. Mankad.
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