HealthDay News — Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors alone, or in combination, are associated with higher disease activity and disability in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a study recently published in Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease.

Kangping Cui, MD, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues used data from the Ontario Best Practices Research Initiative RA registry to examine whether CVD risk factors alone are associated with RA disease activity and disability. The analysis included data for 2033 patients.

The researchers found that 50% of patients had at least 1 CVD risk factor, even in the absence of established CVD. There was an independent association between the presence of at least 1 CVD risk factor and higher scores on the Clinical Disease Activity Index (β coefficient, 1.59; 95% CI, 0.29-2.90; P =.02), Disease Activity Score 28 (β coefficient, 0.20; 95% CI, 0.06-0.34; P =.01) and Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (β coefficient, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.08-0.22; P <.0001). More than 1 CVD risk factor was associated with higher disease activity and disability compared with 1 or no CVD risk factors.

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“In summary, we identified the presence of CVD risk factors to be associated with higher disease activity and disability,” the authors write. “This knowledge can help practicing rheumatologists identify at-risk patients who may benefit from closer follow up or tailored therapeutic strategies, according to their CVD status.”

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