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Autoimmune Woes May Raise Risk for Lung Clots
Date:11/28/2011

FRIDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Patients hospitalized for autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease, may be at greater risk for a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, a clot in a main artery of the lung, a new study finds.

Reporting online Nov. 25 in The Lancet, researchers warned that steps should be taken to prevent this condition among patients admitted to the hospital for autoimmune diseases.

In conducting the study, researchers analyzed data on more than 500,000 patients admitted to the hospital in Sweden for one of 33 autoimmune diseases, which can also include Grave's disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and chronic rheumatic heart disease.

The team, led by Dr. Bengt Zoller of Malmo University Hospital in Sweden, found the overall risk of pulmonary embolism in the 12 months following hospitalization to be six times higher for patients with autoimmune diseases than for those without this type of disorder.

They noted that all of the 33 autoimmune disorders included in the study were associated with a significantly higher risk of pulmonary embolism, although the most notable increases were associated with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a clotting disorder, which carried an 11-fold increased risk; polyarteritis nodosa, a form of vasculitis (13 times the risk); and polymyositis, which involves chronic muscle inflammation (16 times the risk).

The rise in risk did decrease over time, however. Between one and five years after hospitalization, overall risk dropped to a 50 percent increased risk for those with autoimmune disorders, the researchers found. The risk dropped even further, to 15 percent five to 10 years after admission, and fell to just 4 percent after 10 years or more.

The researchers pointed out the risks were the same for men and women, and did not vary across age groups.

Zoller and colleagues said in a journal press release that pre
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