Painful knee arthritis is associated with an increased risk of premature death in women, a new study suggests.
Women with osteoarthritis-related knee pain -- the type associated with normal wear and tear -- were nearly twice as likely to die early from any cause, and more than three times as likely to die from heart problems as those without knee pain from arthritis, the British researchers found.
"These findings suggest that any self-reported knee pain in osteoarthritis, as opposed to hand pain, seems to be a crucial factor leading to early cardiovascular mortality and is likely to be linked with decreased mobility," said lead author Dr. Stefan Kluzek of the Arthritis Research UK Centre of Excellence for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis at the University of Oxford.
There was no increased risk of early death among women with osteoarthritis pain in the hands.
Nor did women with X-ray evidence of knee arthritis but no pain have an increased risk of premature death, the study found.
Researchers analyzed data from middle-aged British women who were tracked for an average of 22 years.
The study is scheduled for presentation Friday at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in Milan, Italy. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
"More research is needed to understand how people adapt to knee pain, and how this leads to cardiovascular impairment," Kluzek said in a news release from the International Osteoporosis Foundation.