Washington DC: Rheumatoid arthritis patients are twice as likely as the average person to develop heart disease, but a new study shows that efforts to prevent heart problems and diagnose and treat heart disease early may be paying off.
Despite the heightened danger, deaths from cardiovascular disease among people with rheumatoid arthritis are declining, the research found. The study was among Mayo Clinic research being presented at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting.
In the study on rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, researchers looked at heart disease deaths within 10 years of rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis among two groups of people: 315 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis from 2000 to 2007 and 498 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the 1980s and 1990s.
They also looked at heart disease deaths among 813 people without the rheumatic disease. Roughly two-thirds of patients studied were women, and the average age was 60.
They found a significantly lower rate of deaths from heart disease in the more recently diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients than in those diagnosed earlier: 2.8 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.
More research is needed to confirm why heart disease deaths among rheumatoid arthritis patients have declined, but potential factors include earlier and more vigilant screening for heart problems, improved treatment for heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and in general, more attention to heart health in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, says lead author Elena Myasoedova.