Osteoporosis and Heart Disease
February is American Heart month, and it is important to highlight the connection between heart disease and osteoporosis. Studies show that people with heart disease are more likely to fracture a bone due to osteoporosis. Once viewed as being independent conditions, research showing a link between heart disease and osteoporosis suggest that the conditions may have similar causes.
What’s the link?
Osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease share many common conventional risk factors such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, stress and aging. However the two conditions are further linked through menopause, inflammation, oxidative stress, and vitamin deficiencies.
The decline of estrogen in women following menopause increases the risk of both osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. For most of our life, estrogen aids in maintaining our bone density. However, with the onset of menopause, the drop in estrogen leads to bone breakdown and decreased calcium absorption. Heart attacks in women also increase dramatically after menopause, which can be attributed mainly to the lack of estrogen.
There is also an association between systemic inflammation in both cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the key markers of inflammation and has been found to be a significant predictor of fracture as well as cardiovascular disease. Inflammation affects the blood vessel walls by forming calcifications that lead to plaques, yet inflammation has the opposite effect on the skeletal system as it actually stimulates bone breakdown.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize them through antioxidants. Oxidative stress not only plays a fundamental role in the development of cardiovascular disease but also osteoporosis.
Vitamin deficiency. A significant risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease is the calcification of heart valves, and blood vessels. Ironically, osteoporosis occurs with a loss of calcium from the bone. In both instances, vitamin deficiencies could be an underlying factor. Vitamins D and K are critically important to the absorption and transportation of calcium in our system. Both these vitamins provide critical benefits to the bone as well as to the cardiovascular system.
Your body is a complex organism in which every system and organ is interrelated. No disease or condition exists on its own. The changes you make to prevent osteoporosis, or any other disease, will benefit your health in every way.