Current tools may underestimate the risk of heart disease danger faced by patients with rheumatoid arthritis according to a Mayo Clinic study.
Two commonly used tools for assessing heart disease danger were found to substantially underrate cardiovascular disease danger in women and men with rheumatoid arthritis. The problem was particularly evident in older patients and people who test positive for rheumatoid factors, proteins produced by the immune system and often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
On a personal level, this study is interesting to me as I have risk factors for both cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis in my family. The key problem seems to be that inflammation plays a key role in creating a greater risk factor in those with rheumatoid arthritis, but the two most commonly used tools for assessing heart disease danger — the Framingham and Reynolds risk scores —don’t factor it in.
“This study emphasizes that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk for heart disease, and that conventional predictors of risk are not adequate for estimating this risk. Physicians caring for patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be aware of this heightened risk even when conventional risk factors seem to indicate no increased risk, and consider measures to assess and lower CV risk in these patients,” says co-author Eric Matteson, M.D., chairman of Mayo Clinic’s rheumatology division.
Sounds like good advice to me.