“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,” said the study’s lead author Kurt Hegmann, Professor at University of Utah School of Medicine in the US.
For the study, the researchers examined data from 1,226 skilled labourers.
The more heart disease risk factors that each of the study participants had racked up — including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes — the more likely they were to have had shoulder trouble.
The participants with the most severe collection of 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, showed the findings published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
“What we think we are seeing is that high force can accelerate rotator cuff issues but is not the primary driver,” Hegmann said.
“Cardiovascular disease risk factors could be more important than job factors for incurring these types of problems,” he added.
It is possible that controlling blood pressure and other heart risk factors could alleviate shoulder discomfort, too, Hegmann noted.