It is surprising that research on the relationship between chronic pain and cardiovascular disease is relatively scarce. The aim of this research project is thus to investigate whether there is an association between chronic pain and the development of cardiovascular disease, and to understand the interplay with other relevant factors.
Chronic pain and cardiovascular disease share many common biological, psychological and social risk factors. Moreover, pain activates the sympathetic nervous system, which have major effects on the cardiovascular system including raising blood pressure and heart rate. There are also studies indicating that chronic pain is associated with low-grade inflammation, a key underlying mechanism for atherosclerosis development.
We will investigate the association between chronic pain and the development of cardiovascular disease. We also want to investigate the importance of comorbidities, such as diabetes, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances, medication, physical activity, obesity, inflammation, socio-economic status and genetics.
To achieve our aim, we will use the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain (SQRP) with about 60 000 participants with chronic pain, and also a British study, UK Biobank, with half a million participants. Dalarna University is the host of a unique database, combining SQRP with several other registries, such as the National Patient Register and the National Prescribed Drug Register. This gives us very good possibilities to study the associations between chronic pain and cardiovascular disease.
If successful, we expect that our findings will lead to important new insights of the interplay between chronic pain and cardiovascular disease that may have implications for the routine care of chronic pain patients in clinical practice.