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Rheumatoid Arthritis Boosts Heart Disease Threat
Date:11/9/2007

But checking typical risk factors can help head off problems, research says

FRIDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis run a greater risk of developing heart disease.

But that risk can be spotted and hopefully modified by using the same criteria used to identify heart-disease risk in the general population, a new study suggests.

Those screening checks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, older age, and family history of cardiovascular illness. And people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should be screened using those risk factors as soon as possible following their diagnosis of RA, the study authors said.

"The bottom-line is that RA patients are at increased risk of heart disease," said lead researcher Dr. Hilal Maradit Kremers, a research associate with the Mayo Clinic Department of Health Sciences Research in Rochester, Minn.

"But we need to know how can we predict which RA patients are at a higher risk than others, so that we can then put more effort in the prevention of heart disease in these people," she added. "And so, here we attempted to do just that, by using a typical cardiovascular risk profile to predict heart disease among these patients."

Kremers and her colleagues presented their findings this week at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, in Boston.

The study findings follow a 2005 Mayo Clinic report that suggested that the increase in heart disease risk among RA patients may be due to the systemic inflammation brought on by the disease, which, in turn, prompts arterial plaque to form blood clots. The new findings also come on the heels of a Mayo Clinic study released last month that said RA patients are more than twice as likely to develop heart failure over a 15-year period than people who don't have the disease.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and of
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