Prevalence of atherosclerosis in patients with inactive rheumatoid arthritis
MetadataShow full item record
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) exhibit higher cardiovascular morbidity and mortality than the general population. The common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) measured by ultrasound is a validated surrogate marker of atherosclerosis. We studied the prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with inactive RA. CCA-IMT was measured at the level of the carotid bifurcation in 35 patients with RA and 35 age- and sex-matched controls. CCA-IMT measurements more than two standard deviations above the mean measurement of the control group were defined as abnormal. Patients and controls with known cardiovascular risk factors were excluded from the study. The following data were taken into consideration for each patient: age, sex, duration of RA, and medication received by the patient. These variables were adjusted in data analysis. The patients were required to have had normal C-reactive protein levels for at least 1آ year and no clinical signs or symptoms of active disease. An independent t test and chi-squared test were used for statistical analysis. Nine patients with RA (25.7آ %) and two controls (5.7آ %) had an abnormal IMT. Patients showed more carotid atherosclerotic plaques and a higher mean CCA-IMT than did controls (48.6 vs. 14.3آ % and 0.705 آ± 0.140 vs. 0.580 آ± 0.125, respectively). An abnormal CCA-IMT was more prevalent in patients >50آ years of age with >5آ years of involvement (P = 0.001). These results support the theory that chronic inflammation in patients with inactive RA is associated with atherosclerosis and suggest the use of carotid ultrasonography as a useful tool with which to establish the risk of cardiovascular disease. é 2015, International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR).