Original Article

Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1311-1317

First online:

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

  • Stephanie O. KeelingAffiliated withDivision of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta562 Heritage Medical Research Center, University of Alberta Email author 
  • , Michelle TeoAffiliated withDivision of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
  • , Daisy FungAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, University of Alberta


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.


Cardiovascular risk reduction Framingham risk score Inflammatory arthritis Systemic lupus erythematosus