Current limitations in the management of cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis

Department of Rheumatology, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.
Clinical and experimental rheumatology (Impact Factor: 2.72). 02/2012; 30(2):228-32.
Source: PubMed


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with excess cardiovascular (CV) disease. Many studies have shown subclinical atherosclerosis in RA is associated with CV risk factors and inflammation. Their relationship with CV events has however received less attention. Furthermore, except for hypertension CV risk factor management has not been examined in a UK RA population. We therefore evaluated the contribution of RA specific and CV risk factors to CV events alongside the management of CV risk factors in RA patients.
We assessed the prevalence, screening and treatment of CV risk factors in a cross-sectional survey of RA patients consecutively attending specialist clinics. We used binary logistic regression to examine relationships between CV events and RA and CV risk factors.
We enrolled 309 patients (81% female; median age 60 years; median disease duration 8 years). 27 (9%) had previous CV events. 56% had hypertension, 42% hyperlipidaemia, 11% diabetes, 52% were ex/current smokers and 26% obese. Lipid status was unknown in one third. 47% of patients on anti-hypertensive agents were undertreated. CV events were associated with hyperlipidaemia (OR 13.5; 95% CI 3.9, 45.9), hypertension (OR 6.4; 95% CI 1.9, 21.9), having ever smoked (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.1, 6.5), RA duration (OR 1.09; 95% CI 1.06, 1.13) and erosions (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.1, 8.2).
CV events are prevalent in RA. They are associated with CV risks and RA factors. Despite this burden we found CV risk factors were inadequately managed. A robust system to identify and treat CV risks in RA is required.

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