An article connecting fibromyalgia to coronary heart disease (CHD) caught my eye (see Tsai et al in the library). After all, I have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (an intermittent benign heart rhythm disorder) and occasional palpitations as a result of that, a light fluttering I can feel in my throat when my heart decides to race a bit. I’m always wondering what comes first, fibro or everything else everyone deals with when they have a fibro diagnosis. As usual, this article didn’t really address that question, but it does state relatively definitely that, yes, there is an association between fibro and coronary heart disease. They go on to connect the possible mitochondrial DNA damage and dysfunction caused by increased levels of reactive oxygen species (I have to come up with a good definition for this, but it has to do with the stuff that brings oxygen into the cell – I think) with atherosclerosis and CHD. At the same time, they note that mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation has been pointed to as a cause of fibromyalgia.
The connection, however, as they point out, could actually be because of the medications people with fibromyalgia are given, in particular opioids and NSAIDS, which can precipitate cardiac events. This alone makes me wonder if the connection isn’t artificial in a way. I would want to see a study between fibro patients who takes opioids/NSAIDS and those who don’t and see if there is still a connection between coronary events and fibromyalgia.
But that wasn’t the most interesting connection they mention.
The line, “Depression is increasingly being considered an inflammatory disease” was what really caught my eye. Depression as an inflammatory disease? This is something I’m going to have to read up on. One of the first symptoms I had as a teenager when some sort of chronic pain disease started rearing its ugly head was swelling, particularly in my hands, not just in the joints but in the soft tissue too. Back then, I definitely had some depression symptoms, but I’m not convinced they weren’t teenage angst. I need to pay attention to any correlation between fibro pain, swelling, and depression. When I feel down for no particularly good reason (because, let’s face it, there are often good reasons for feeling down), I should try to be conscious of tissue/joint swelling.
If it means anything, I’m very swollen today, hands, elbows, shoulders, feet, knees, from having just a bit too much fun and working too much around the house this weekend, and I’m not having a speck of depression symptoms. I am, however, having fairly regular heart palpitations. But depression as an inflammatory disease. Get rid of the inflammation and how much better would I feel? How do you get rid of inflammation, and is the inflammation they’re talking about the tissue/joint inflammation I’ve dealt with forever? Could they be talking about cellular level inflammation? What types of inflammation are there? I, again, have more reading to do. Back down the rabbit hole…. deep breath.