People at increased risk for heart disease could be more likely to have shoulder problems, notes a study from the University of Utah School of Medicine.

“If someone has rotator cuff problems, it could be a sign that there is something else going on. They may need to manage risk factors for heart disease,” says lead author Kurt Hegmann, MD, MPH, professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Director of the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, in a media release from University of Utah Health Sciences

According to the study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the more heart disease risk factors there were among each of the study participants—including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes—the more likely they were to have had shoulder trouble.

The study included 1,226 skilled laborers. Among the participants, 36 with the most severe risk factors were 4.6 times more likely than those with none of the risk factors to have had shoulder joint pain. They were also nearly six times more likely to have had a second shoulder condition, rotator cuff tendinopathy. Participants with mid-level heart risk were less likely to have had either shoulder condition, at 1.5 to 3-fold, per the release.

Although physical strain could be just as likely to cause the participants’ shoulder pain, the data from the study suggests otherwise, the researchers note. Every forceful twist, push, and pull was factored into a strain index assigned to each participant in the study.

From analyzing the participants’ strain indexes, the scientists observe that a more straining job did not translate to an uptick in shoulder difficulties. Nor did more time spent doing other physical activities, the release adds.

“What we think we are seeing is that high force can accelerate rotator cuff issues but is not the primary driver,” Hegmann explains. “Cardiovascular disease risk factors could be more important than job factors for incurring these types of problems.”

Hegmann adds that it may be possible that controlling blood pressure and other heart risk factors could alleviate shoulder discomfort.

[Source(s): University of Utah Health Sciences, Newswise]