, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1311-1317
Date: 19 Apr 2011

Lack of cardiovascular risk assessment in inflammatory arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus patients at a tertiary care center


The purpose of this study is to evaluate cardiovascular risk assessment at a Canadian rheumatology center and describe the cardiovascular risk of inflammatory arthritis (IA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients using the Framingham risk score. A retrospective chart review of 504 patients attending nine rheumatology practices at the University of Alberta Hospital was performed. A pre-specified case report form detailed patient demographics, cardiac risk factors, variables for the Framingham 2008 score, disease activity, and medication use. In this group of 504 patients, 64 (12.7%) had SLE (male (M) to female (F) ratio = 60:4) and 440 (87.3%) had an IA (M to F ratio = 117:323). Of the SLE patients, 31 (48.4%) met four or more American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria, 33 (51.6%) had less than four ACR criteria. Of the IA patients, 156 (35.5%) were CCP positive and 257 (58.4%) were RF positive. Utilizing the chart data, retrospective Framingham risk scores were calculable for one (1.6%) SLE patient and three (0.68%) IA patients. The most common cardiac risk factors not documented in the medical records of both the SLE and IA patients included: (1) positive family history of MI, (2) diabetes, and (3) lipid status. The blood pressure was more frequently documented in the SLE patients (93.8%) compared to the IA patients (56.1%). While traditional cardiac risk factors only partially contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk in these patients, cardiovascular risk assessment was suboptimally performed amongst a large group of rheumatologists. A dedicated cardiovascular risk reduction clinic for inflammatory rheumatic diseases has been established at this site to fulfill this need and evaluate treatment strategies.