Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Increased Risk of Stroke
Posted Jun 05 2010 7:46pm
Researchers in the United Kingdom recently investigated the incidence of stroke among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. They analyzed data from the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database of over 7 million patients. These records include diagnosis and prescription medication information.
The team looked at histories from 33,191 RA patients compared to 99,570 patients without RA. They analyzed several risk factors including age, sex, smoking, diabetes, body mass index, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and cholesterol. They also considered the treatments and therapies used by these patients including corticosteroids and anti-rheumatic drugs.
The conclusion was that, when considering multiple variables, patients with RA have a significantly higher risk of stroke. In addition, traditional risk factors were associated with increased risk of stroke in both RA and non-RA patients. They also found that there was no significant effect on the risk by using anti-rheumatic drugs, although there was a slight increase in risk for those patients using methotrexate.
According to lead investigator Dr. Christopher Edwards, “Rheumatoid arthritis is known to be associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. These unique data suggest that the disease is associated with an increased risk of stroke as well. Appropriate risk assessment and intervention for this important cause of morbidity and mortality in rheumatoid arthritis is clearly a critical issue.”