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Studies show dramatic decline in rheumatoid vasculitis in US veterans
Date:8/26/2009

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health examined records of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients from the national Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system to determine the prevalence of rheumatoid vasculitis (RV) in this population. The study found a downward trend in the number of RA patients who go on to develop RV, with a significant drop of 53% among inpatients and 31% among outpatients between 2000 and 2001. Full details of the study are published in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Rheumatoid Vasculitis is a complication of severe RA, an autoimmune disease that causes painful inflammation of the joints. Approximately 2%-5% of RA patients develop RV, an extraarticular (occurring outside the joint) manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis, affecting small and medium-size arteries in the body. RV can involve many body organs including the skin, eyes, heart, lungs, nerves to the hands and feet, as well as blood vessels in the fingers and toes.

In this cross-sectional study, Christie Bartels, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine analyzed data on patients admitted to VHA hospitals over a 22-year period (1985-2006) or seen in outpatient settings over a 10-year period (1997-2006). More than 37,000 patient records where a diagnosis of RA was noted qualified for the study and 92% of those being men with a mean age of 64.9 years. To determine a RV diagnosis, researchers included those patients who had one of the following: arteritis, mononeuritis multiplex (damage to multiple individual nerve fibers), peripheral neuropathy due to connective tissue disease, gangrene, or chronic ulcers.

A past study of data from California hospitals also showed hospitalizations for RV declined between 1980 and 2001. But analysis of only inpatient data raises questions of whether RV cases escaped detection
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Contact: Dawn Peters
medicalnews@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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