, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 769-774
Date: 15 Feb 2014

The role of rheumatologists vis-à-vis assessment of traditional cardiovascular risk factors in rheumatoid arthritis

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Abstract

This study was designed to estimate the burden of care that would be placed on rheumatologists to undertake cardiovascular (CV) risk assessment of traditional CV risk factors in their patients. This cross-sectional study was set in a rheumatology ambulatory clinic of a tertiary care, university hospital. Consecutive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were recruited over 6 weeks and matched 1:1 on age and sex to patients with non-inflammatory problems who presented to the same clinic. CV risk was calculated using the Framingham Risk Score. We recruited 68 RA patients and 64 controls. The distribution of CV risk factors in RA patients and controls was similar. Ten-year Framingham CV risk scores based on traditional risk factors were moderate and similar in RA patients and controls (13.7 and 14.3 %, respectively). Nevertheless, the proportion of RA patients with a history of coronary artery disease was more than twice that of controls (13 versus 5 %, respectively). Approximately 20 % of RA patients and controls did not have a primary care physician. In rheumatology practice, the problem of elevated CV risk due to traditional risk factors is not unique to RA patients. The burden for rheumatologists of undertaking CV risk assessment in their clinic could be considerable. Rheumatologists should manage inflammatory disease and health services should be improved to ensure the optimal management of traditional CV risk factors for all rheumatology patients.